My Two Cents on Gut Health
I’m sure you’ve heard these two words being thrown around quite a lot, especially in the last few years. Phrases like “feed your gut” and “these are the good bacteria” seem to pop up everywhere (or is it just me?)
Either way, there is more to this fad than just hipster hype. More and more research is confirming what we’ve all suspected for a long time – having a healthy gut matters, perhaps even more than you realize.
As someone with a sensitive stomach, and a lifelong history of gut issues of all sorts, I have accumulated my own little bank of knowledge on the topic.
Maybe you’re like me, and you’re looking for ways to make your gut healthier & happier. Or maybe you’re like my husband, and you’ve never really given it much thought – whatever your personal situation may be, learning more about this topic certainly can’t hurt.
Before we dive in – I’m not a doctor or an expert. I’m just a fellow health & wellness enthusiast, always looking for ways to optimize my life & habits to increase my enjoyment of life.
Your Gut is your second brain
Recent years have seen a rise in research on what our role our gut plays in our body at large. Many scientists are now calling your gut your “second brain” or the more scientific term enteric nervous system (ENS).
Turns out that ENS is responsible for more than just digesting your food, making sure that all nutrients go to the correct locations, and all waste matter comes out. Turns out that ENS communicates with bacteria inside of us. These are completely separate creatures that make up our microbiome, and there are just as many of them inside of us as our own human cells!
Turns out that ENS communicates with bacteria inside of us.
As a result, ENS controls your mood, happiness levels and other emotion related processes that were previously ascribed solely to our “main brain”. For example, ENS can trigger huge emotional shifts in people suffering from IBS or any other of the plethora of gut issues that we as humans experience (constipation, diarrhea, bloating, etc). For decades, researchers believed that depression & anxiety contributed to these issues, however research now shows that it may be the other way around.
Studies now show that those with a healthy gut biome, are less likely to suffer from depression or anxiety.
Just think of sayings like “go with your gut” or having “a gut feeling”. As with most other things (like essential oils) our society has had this knowledge on some level in the past.
Many of us who grew up in too clean environments, frequently took antibiotics, and ate junk food have a decidedly unhealthy microbiome
How I keep my gut healthy
Over the years, I’ve tried almost everything in the book to make my gut a happy camper. As with all things, it’s a balancing game. Since being on this journey, I’ve had times of immense success but also huge failure. Here are a few of my go to habits & products that have worked for me.
It’s important to remember, that health & wellness (including that of the gut) is a lifestyle – a series of daily habits, decisions & practices.
Different probiotics work for different people – it comes down to the specific bacteria that live in your specific gut, so a little trial and error is going to be necessary in this area. I’ve been through many probiotics over the years, and the one I’m currently loving is the Young Living Life 9 probiotic.
I take it every single night before going to bed, and I’ve seen dramatic results in how my food gets digested. With consistency I have enjoyed reduced bloating as well as improved bowel function when I wake up.
Pro Tip: Probiotics are EXPENSIVE y’all. I remember how much I hated walking into Whole Foods, buying one small bottle of probiotics that would last me a month, and walking out $60 lighter. Now I have my probiotics delivered to my front door every month in my monthly Essential Rewards order. It counts towards my 50PV minimum, AND I get 25% back for future purchases.
2. Bulletproof Coffee
Chances are you’ve probably heard me talk about my most beloved hot beverage of all time before. Not only does this amazing cup of deliciousness give me a wonderful morning wake up (this is literally what I get out of bed for every day) but my gut LOVES bulletproof coffee. It gets everything moving, if you catch my meaning….
If you want to know more about this wonderful beverage, I wrote an ode to it here.
3. Digestive Enzymes
These guys are great to help your stomach do some of the heavy lifting. I try to take them daily before my largest meal of the day, although I’m not as religious about it as I am about my probiotics (I probably should be TBH).
They help your digestive tract properly break down foods that contain difficult-to-digest proteins, fats and carbohydrates. By releasing important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and macronutrients from your food, you gain more nutritional value from each meal. They also help relieve uncomfortable symptoms of indigestion and food sensitivities, such as gas, bloating, constipation and other complications.
They are particularly helpful if you feel like you might have some food sensitivities or an enzyme insufficiency.
There are a plethora of digestive enzymes out there, I’m currently using the Essentialzyme by Young Living . I love the peppermint-coated caplet and also the fact that they combine pure essential oils, herbs, plus pancreatic and plant-derived enzymes to support overall digestion.
Pro Tip: once again, I love getting this delivered to my door in my Essential Rewards box & getting 25% back in points!
Yeah yeah, we’ve all heard this one before, but guys, it really works. I’m a proclaimed workaholic, and without some firm boundaries, I’m capable of working myself into the ground – especially since I get to work on things I love!
But getting regular rest has been so beneficial for me, my digestion, and my life in general. I’m talking regular (and early) bedtime, same wake up time every day, chill time, play time, workout time..all the various forms of rest you can think of.
Try looking at your day and assessing where you could carve out a few minutes for a quick stretch, meditation or prayer, and how you can make sure that your body gets enough sleep. I guarantee you that even just a few small lifestyle changes are going to leave your gut feeling SO MUCH BETTER.
5. Essential Oils
Using Essential Oils to help my digestion has been one of the first things that made me fall in love with those little plants in a bottle. As someone with constant digestive worries (just ask my mom), discovering that there is a way to get immediate and completely natural relief, has been revolutionary.
I use a bunch of different essential oils to help me with my digestion, but this is hands down my all time superstar:
This little bottle goes with me everywhere I go.
Digize is a blend of: Tarragon, Ginger, Peppermint, Juniper, Fennel, Lemongrass, Anise and Patchouli Essential Oil.
You probably recognize a bunch of the ingredients from other digestion remedy recipes or tips. The best part about using them as essential oils is that they are so many times more concentrated than they are in their fresh or herbal form.
Young Living essential oils are of the highest quality on the world market. The Vitality line is Project Non-GMO certified and they are FDA approved for ingestion.
I like to place a few drop of DiGize under my tongue, or alternatively put a few drops in an empty vegetable capsule and swallow. It also works wonders when rubbed on the outside of my stomach, if I’ve had an especially late social engagement.0