In the current climate, people all around the globe are looking for ways to improve their health, with a specific focus on immunity. In the wake of COVID-19, people are asking, “How can I strengthen my immune system?” The answer is simple, heal your gut.
It is estimated that roughly 70% of the cells that contribute to the immune system are found in the gut. Armed with this knowledge, it makes sense that if your gut is healthy, you will be too.
If you are experiencing chronic gas or bloating, an autoimmune condition, unexplained weight changes, hormone imbalances, mood swings or loss of concentration, skin conditions such as acne, fatigue, etc. the gut may be unbalanced.
You can learn more about the gut, it’s functions, and symptoms of an unhealthy gut, here.
Today, we’ll look into three holistic steps you can take to bring your gut back into balance using treatment options we offer through our functional medicine practice in Oak Brook, IL. These steps to heal your gut will assist in improving your health and aid in setting the foundation for a strong immune system.
3 Ways To Naturally Heal Your Gut
Increase Water, Decrease Alcohol and Caffeine
Adding water to your diet is one of the simplest and most effective ways to start to tip the scales in your gut’s favor. Drinking water (half of your body weight in ounces daily) has been proven beneficial to the mucosal lining of the intestines and helps to balance the good bacteria in the gut. If you want to take it a step further, decrease your alcohol and caffeine consumption. Both alcohol and caffeine are digestive stimulants and will disrupt the digestive process. Furthermore, caffeine (a stimulant) and alcohol (a depressant) can increase mood swings and heighten stress levels. Which brings us to our next actionable step to improve gut function.
Manage Stress in Healthy Ways
Stress is something that all of us deal with. Let’s face it, if you’re human, you have stress. And while stress usually gets a bad rap, stress is an integral part of human nature and is designed to keep us safe. That being said, too much stress is detrimental to our health and chronic stress can lead to inflammation, cramping, and an imbalance of gut bacteria.
Many of the stressors in our life are outside of our control. What we are in control of is how we react and manage the stress we are given. Here are some tips to manage stress in ways that support your health:
- Move your body for at least thirty minutes a day. If you’re stuck inside, check out Youtube for free exercise videos, you can find everything from kickboxing to yoga and beyond.
- Talk to a professional. Times of uncertainty can take a toll on our mental health and while many counselors have had to close their brick-and-mortar offices, many are still able to provide virtual counseling. Here are some other online therapy options.
- Watch a funny show on Netflix, Hulu, or another favorite streaming network.
- Meditate. Headspace and Insight Timer are two apps that are great for beginners and seasoned meditators alike.
- Call a friend or meet with a friend in person or via Google Hangouts or Zoom.
Check-in With Your Diet
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that what we eat directly impacts our gut. Since what we eat directly affects our gut, and our gut has a profound impact on our immune system (as well as all other systems in the body) changing our diet is the single most impactful thing we can do to improve our health and quality of life.
As previously mentioned, if you are experiencing symptoms of an unhealthy gut: cramping, bloating, gas, constipation, acne, mood swings, hormone imbalances, autoimmune conditions, etc. It’s time to take an honest look at what you’re putting into your body and, maybe even more importantly, how those foods and drinks affect your unique body chemistry.
When changing your diet to improve your gut health, you’ll first want to begin with a three-week elimination diet. This diet removes all major trigger foods from your current diet such as gluten, processed foods, and dairy and then slowly reintroduces them back into your diet, one at a time, to see which of these foods is causing negative reactions such as cramping, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, etc. From here, you and your doctor will be able to create a tailored diet with foods and supplements that are designed to bring your gut back into balance and improve your health and immunity.
Along with these steps, there are numerous more lifestyle changes you can make to heal your gut and strengthen your immune system. If you’d like to learn more about how to improve your gut health, contact Vitality Family Health at your earliest convenience.
At this time we are offering virtual appointments for all new and current members of our functional medicine practice in Oak Brook, IL.