4 Tips For Belly Balance
I firmly believe that health begins in the belly. For centuries our mood, physical health, and mystic intuition were all linked to our gut - modern science is only now catching up. Unfortunately so are the impossibly fast and unavoidably toxic lifestyles we lead (see: autoimmune disease, rising food sensitivity, hormone imbalance, cancer). So, whether you’re already on the journey to healing your gut or just trying to stay your best self, these tips can help.
One of the primary reasons behind gut imbalance is almost always inflammation, so a massive step towards balancing and healing the belly is to reduce inflammation and irritation in the intestinal lining by limiting inflammation causing habits. Speaking generally, high amounts of gluten, dairy, sugar, processed foods, pesticide-treated foods, and alcohol all reduce the integrity of the sensitive cells that line your gut. Reducing or eliminating these foods for a few months will give your intestines time to rest and rebalance. A short term elimination diet is also an excellent alternative to clinical tests for pinpointing your unique source of inflammation.
Protect Your Cells
The bedrock of intestinal health is maintaining the integrity of your gut membrane by preventing intestinal permeability. Intestinal permeability, or leaky gut, is when the cells that line your intestines separate, allowing for food debris and toxins to enter the bloodstream, which is super problematic. Incorporating L-glutamine and collagen into your diets can help maintain the health of your gut lining.
L-glutamine is an essential amino acid that has gained popularity with athletes for its ability to repair and rebuild muscle tissue. It’s also the preferred way intestinal lining cells gather fuel and is critical for the health and growth of cells in the gut. That means L-glutamine is vital in maintaining the integrity of the gut membrane and preventing permeability. Because L-glutamine is used by the body in states of extreme or chronic stress, people with high-stress lifestyles (most of us) may be deficient. The amino acid is abundant in protein-rich foods such as spinach, lentils, beans, chicken, and fish.
Collagen acts as the “glue” of the body and is found in our skin, bones, organs, eyes, and inside the digestive tract. Consuming collagen and gelatin provides belly-healing benefits by supporting the health of connective tissues, including those of the gastrointestinal tract. Collagen can be found in traditional bone broths and in convenient and versatile powders.
Feed The Good Bugs
Yes, probiotics are essential. They can help improve a myriad of bodily ails from digestion and mood to immunity, but they don’t work (well) without their other half: prebiotics. Prebiotics are a form of soluble fiber that feed the good bacteria in your intestines - they’re what gives your microbiome the fuel to do all those fantastic things. Recent research shows that when microbes are starved of fiber (prebiotics), they can start to feed on the protective mucus lining of the gut, possibly triggering inflammation and disease. Meaning, prebiotics are very important. You can find them in foods like onions, garlic, oats, bananas, asparagus, sweet potatoes, dandelion greens, and jicama. Many probiotic supplements now include probiotics, and there are quite a few powders you can incorporate into beverages or smoothies. But, when you can, always opt for whole foods.
Incorporate Gut Nourishing Herbs
There are hundreds of healing plants that can be worked into the diet to help rebalance the gut, here are a few of the most widely available and potent:
Slippery elm is a type of elm tree works as a demulcent to soothe and calm irritated tissues in the gut. According to one study on IBD, slippery elm may also have antioxidant effects within the intestines.
The marshmallow plant has been a gentle and nutritive ally to humans for thousands of years. It has a soothing influence on the intestines and is helpful for inflammation and irritation of the GI tract as well as the bladder. Its root assists in repairing damaged gut linings from leaky gut syndrome by coating the stomach.
Burdock root is an incredible herb for improving digestion as it contains inulin, a potent prebiotic that feeds the gut microbiome. It is mildly bitter and stimulates the secretion of bile, this helps to improve appetite and digestion, thereby benefiting the health of the whole body.