Have you heard of the term “leaky gut”?
By now, most folks have.
It refers to an increased permeability of the intestinal lining, allowing small particles of undigested or partially digested food to leak into the bloodstream. To heal it, we have methods such as those discussed in 82 Ways To Heal Your Gut — including restricted diets and certain supplements.
And yet… is there anything else? This post explores some of the lesser-known ways to address gut health — additional practical solutions and new encouragement to keep trying!
5 Ways To Heal Your Gut That You Probably Haven’t Tried
Of the 5 methods I will share with you today, notice the first 2. They’re FREE!
Although we may be inclined to reject advice if it’s too simple, clinical trials have proven these practices. They may be easy, but they work!
#1 — Eat in a parasympathetic state.
“Rest and digest.”
This axiom makes the parasympathetic state easier to remember and understand. It’s a state of healing and regeneration.
In more technical terms, the parasympathetic nervous system is a division of the autonomic nervous system, which controls the subconscious actions of our bodies like breathing and digestion. When we eat in a calm and restful manner — in other words, in a parasympathetic state — clinical studies show reduced inflammation and an improved gut barrier (source and source).
Contrast that with our sympathetic nervous system, also a division of the autonomic nervous system, which triggers our fight or flight response. When we eat while hurried or stressed, our digestion suffers. Blood flows from our gastrointestinal tract to our extremities instead, allowing our bodies to escape, hurry, act quickly, etc. (The Central Nervous System: Structure and Function, page 374.)
Unfortunately, many of us eat in a sympathetic state. We hop up from meals often, we drive while we eat, we work while we eat. This mode of ingestion actually sabotages our gut lining!
Are you a worrier? Anxiety has the same effect. Our bodies are piqued, concerned, watching for danger. They are not in a relaxed state that encourages digestion or healing. Stress has even been shown to cause digestive disease (source).
Action step: If you recognize any of these qualities in yourself, take a moment to consider how you can change your meal times. How can you reduce frenetic energy and stress during meals, and replace it with relaxation, happiness, and calm?
#2 — Chew your food longer.
Have you ever heard the advice to chew each bite 30 times?
Powerful healing can actually result from these instructions! If you think about it, it must be easier for the gut to digest an almost-liquid bite versus lots of small chunks.
If you have a gut flora imbalance, undigested food particles in the intestines can cause food sensitivities, putrefaction, or fermentation. This can result in additional gut complications. (Source.)
Pathogens actually feed on undigested food. So if you’re trying to beat candida or other overgrowth, chewing your food to the point of its liquefaction is winning a battle on the front lines against pathogens.
Did you know that clinical studies show that increased chewing also increases relevant gut hormones (source)? These hormones may promote satiety and prevent overeating. Overeating bogs down and discourages digestion, so eating slightly less often helps our bodies maintain the right stomach pH, making digestion painless and more efficient.
Another benefit to chewing food longer? It takes longer to eat our meals! And we already know the benefits to eating more slowly and practicing relaxation.
Now, do we really need to count each bite? Thankfully, no! That might make us stressed or less relaxed, all over again. 😉
Action step: Take smaller bites and chew them until they are liquefied. It makes eating more pleasurable — try it and see!
#3 — Live or vacation in a sunny location…
…preferably one with sand and surf!
I talk a lot about this here. Something so simple made me feel so completely well!
Both vitamin D from the sun and the negative ions we get from connecting to the earth (called earthing or grounding) restore our bodies’ ability to detoxify and digest.
Action step: Make time to be barefoot outside in the sunshine as often as possible, even if you can’t take a vacation!
#4 — Ingest prebiotics with as much dedication as probiotics.
Prebiotics — in the form of food or supplements — promote healthy bowel movements. They feed the flora in our colon, helping the flora to produce butyrate (a short-chain amino acid), which is then consumed by T-cells.
T-cells help the body to have an accurate immune response. They also fight inflammation and are great for boosting the immune system.
Because prebiotics feed probiotics, they are an integral aspect of a healthy alimentary canal. They help to heal and maintain a healthy gut ecosystem (source).
Action step: Incorporate some or all of these 13 prebiotic foods into your diet.
#5 — Use lesser-known supplements.
Although I’m a big fan of the GAPS diet, which promotes the healing of our bodies through foods instead of supplements, I’m also a big fan of supplements. They’ve helped me so much on my own healing journey!
From personal experience, I recommend mastic gum and declycerolized licorice (read more here), slippery elm and marshmallow root (read more here), and glutathione.
Glutathione is used far less often than the supplement glutamine (which may actually cause complications). When taken orally, glutathione is well absorbed by the liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, brain, small intestine, and skin (source). It helps the body detoxify, and protects tissue health through repair and new growth (source, source, source, and source).
Effective doses (to increase body stores) range from 250 mg to 1000 mg daily (source). Here’s my favorite source of glutathione!
Action step: Give any of these gut-healing supplements a try! Be sure to check with your doctor first.
Have you tried any of these methods to heal your gut yet? Which ones are you interested in trying first?
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