• Jamie Sculley, ND

4 Lifestyle Tips You Can Do for Better Gut Health



There are many lifestyle and dietary changes you can do to take care of your gut and help it heal. Here are four tips you can do in your own life to improve gut health!


Mindful Eating

This means being mentally present when you're eating, paying attention to what you're eating and how much. Take time to chew your food well, take small bites, and eat slowly and thoughtfully. You'll digest your food better and get more nutrition out of it this way.


Distractions like TV and cell phones can disrupt mindful eating. When we're distracted, we tend to eat more and may overeat due to missing signals of fullness. This can cause indigestion, heartburn and weight gain. Try to avoid being distracted by your cell phone, TV or doing work while you eat. If you're out on the road, stop to eat either in your car or find a spot to sit outside.


Use Antibiotics Sparingly

Antibiotics can be useful in cases where someone is very sick, but they've been overused in the past for conditions where they aren't even effective. Now that we know more about the importance of the microbiome, it's important to use them only when needed to prevent killing off the beneficial bacteria and creating resistant bacterial strains. If you have to take one I recommend taking a probiotic as well and getting plenty of probiotic-rich foods in your diet.


Manage Your Stress

Chronic stress can change the composition of your microbiome resulting in increased anxiety and depression. Stress management techniques like exercise, meditation, journaling, gratitude, counseling, adequate sleep, and botanical adaptogens are all good ways to keep your stress level low and your microbiome healthy.


Don't Block Stomach Acid

Stomach acid serves an important purpose, and not just for digesting food. You need stomach acid to break down proteins into absorbable amino acids, for vitamin and mineral absorption and to kill harmful pathogens that might be in your food. Here are the many benefits of stomach acid.

  • Protein digestion - Digestive enzymes that break down proteins into amino acids are activated by the acidic environment in the stomach. If proteins aren't fully broken down there will be less amino acids available for use in important functions like muscle building, immunity, growth and repair, and neurotransmitters.

  • Vitamin and mineral absorption - Vitamin B12 has to be attached to a protein called intrinsic factor in the stomach to be absorbed. Before B12 can do this it needs to be released from our food and this process happens with the help of stomach acid. Vitamin B12 is important for proper nerve function and making new cells, especially red blood cells that are vital for carrying oxygen. Minerals that depend on stomach acid include iron, calcium, and magnesium which are vital for carrying oxygen, maintaining bone strength, cardiovascular health and nerve function.

  • Keeps the bad bugs away - The stomach is incredibly acidic around a pH of 2. Not many things can survive in that type of environment including harmful pathogens that might be in our food. Even though our digestive system is inside our body, it's technically "open" to our outside environment because our mouth is. Stomach acid acts as a defense against ingesting harmful bacteria, fungi, and viruses. A notable bacteria that may become a problem with acid blocker use is Clostridium difficile which can cause diarrhea and intestinal inflammation and be difficult to get rid of due to antibiotic resistance. Studies have also found that the risk of pneumonia can increase even in healthy individuals because small amounts of our digestive juices, along with bacteria, can travel up the esophagus and into our lungs when we sleep.


Summary

Mindful eating means paying attention to what you're eating and how much, chewing your food well, taking small bites, and eating slowly. Avoid distractions like TV and cell phones. Use antibiotics sparingly because they've been overused in the past, kill off helpful bacteria that make up our microbiome and contribute to antibiotic resistance. Manage stress because it changes the makeup of your microbiome. Don't block stomach acid because it contributes to protein digestion, vitamin and mineral absorption and protects against harmful bugs.


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In health,

Dr. Jamie





This website is not intended for the purpose of providing medical advice. All information, content, and material of this website is for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.


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