If you’re an active member of the Instagram wellness world, you’ve probably seen or heard at least five people talk about gut health. Hey, it’s trendy – but truth be told, it’s also really important. The bacteria in your gut have a huge impact on your overall health, and it’s important to get the proper balance of probiotics and prebiotics in order to look, feel, and even think your best.
I’ve had my own share of digestive issues over the last few years and can finally say that I feel like I’m starting to understand my body and the foods that make me feel my best. I’m no expert (disclaimer: I’m not a doctor), but here are some of my top tips that have personally helped me improve my digestion:
1. Stress Less
Your mind is pretty dang powerful — if you think a food is going to give you an upset tummy, it probably will. Food allergies and food sensitivities are one thing, but orthorexic “clean eating” habits may also be contributing to your digestive issues. I know they did for me! I used to be petrified of eating things like gluten, oil, and refined-sugars and would either stress myself out trying to avoid eating them, or would drown myself in negative self-talk after I did.
Once I stopped obsessing over how healthy my food was and started allowing myself to eat the foods I was actually craving I noticed huge improvements in my digestion. I still eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet most of the time, because it makes me feel good! But you know what else makes me feel good? Eating popcorn while I watch a movie, snacking on chocolate as a late-night snack, and splitting a giant bowl of ice cream with my boyfriend.
Food is more than fuel for our bodies, and it’s important to acknowledge and appreciate the mental, emotional, and cultural aspects of eating as well.
2. Take Probiotics
I’ve been taking probiotics for the better part of 3+ years, and have noticed a big improvement in my gut health, digestion, and skin clarity since! My current favorite is the All-Flora Probiotic by New Chapter. It’s a unique combination of prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotic compounds, and has clinically studied DNA strains in the amount you ACTUALLY need! The product also supports Complete Gut Health with Advanced Digestion & Immune Support, and can help to balance Total Microbiome Health* and Reduce Problematic Yeast & GI-Discomfort.*
I also love it because the pills are easy to swallow and shelf stable – making them perfect for travel! I purchase mine through Thrive Market, where I like to buy all of my supplements. You can click this link to get 25% off of your first purchase of $50+!
3. Eat a Wide Variety of Foods
All foods contain different amounts of vitamins and minerals, and our bodies need all of these nutrients in order to thrive. The easiest way to achieve this is to eat a variety of whole plant foods! I still enjoy my pantry staples and go-to meals, but I also try to pick 1-2 different food items to eat every week. For example: I love to eat roasted broccoli, but every once in a while I’ll switch things up and get green beans or brussels sprouts instead.
I also aim to eat at least one food with naturally-occurring probiotics every day! This includes things like kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, or even tempeh. Each of these foods contain different strains of probiotics, so like my food, I try to mix these up too 🙂
4. Stop Eating a Few Hours Before Bed
Okay, this is not something I do every day. But, I’ve noticed that when I stop eating 1-3 hours before I go to bed I feel much more energized upon waking the next morning. And when I don’t? I feel kind of bloated and sluggish…which does not make for a good morning yoga practice.
Scientific evidence hasn’t found any concrete evidence between metabolism and late-night snacking, so you do you 😉 I just know I feel better when I give myself some time to digest before I rest.
5. Listen to Your Body
If something doesn’t make you feel good after you eat it…don’t! Every body is different, and we all react to and process foods in different ways. Just because a certain food is labeled as “healthy” doesn’t mean you have to eat it. And just because someone you know (or follow on Instagram) is avoiding a food or food group because it doesn’t sit well with them, doesn’t mean you need to do the same.
The not-so-secret key to good digestion? Listen to your body. It’ll tell you when it wants a smoothie and when it wants a chocolate chip cookie (or three 😉 ). It’ll naturally crave foods that contain the nutrients it needs, and if you really tune into it and honor your hunger cues, it won’t let you down.
The statements in this blog post have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to treat or diagnose any disease. All opinions are my own.