Imagine a day when your body feels in perfect harmony, free from the discomfort of bloating or unpredictable visits to the bathroom. Gut health is the cornerstone of such well-being, yet it’s often overlooked in our fast-paced lives.
The thing is, your digestive tract is a complex ecosystem—one that influences your mood, energy, and immunity. And when you restore your gut health, you’re essentially rebooting your body’s natural rhythm, allowing every system to work in sync.
“The foods that we eat absolutely impact our microbiome,” says Hilary Keiser, a biochemist and supplements expert at Viome, a pioneering health technology company specializing in personalized nutrition based on microbiome analysis.
By making small, conscious choices about what you consume, you can fine-tune your body’s responses.
Why Is It Important to Keep a Healthy Gut?
Your gut is the powerhouse of your body, turning the food you consume into energy and essential nutrients. Its health is vital because it meticulously regulates what gets absorbed into your system and what gets expelled, ensuring your body functions optimally.
According to Hilary, a staggering 70–80% of your immune cells reside here, ready to fend off any unwelcome invaders. Research, also reveals that a balanced gut microbiota may play a protective role against the onset of metabolic disorders.
To put it simply, when your gut microbiome is in balance, you’re in a state of health. When it’s not, you may open the door to “leaky gut,” a condition where unwanted substances seep into your bloodstream. This can potentially lead to inflammation and a host of other health issues.
How long does it take to restore gut health?
The time it takes to restore gut health can vary significantly from person to person, according to Hilary. Typically, though, it takes several weeks to several months of consistent efforts to see significant improvements in gut health.
Several factors influence the timeline for gut health improvement:
- Severity of gut issues. If you’re dealing with minor digestive discomfort or irregularities, you may notice improvements in a matter of weeks or a few months. However, for individuals with more severe gut issues, the process may take longer.
- Diet and lifestyle. Making positive changes, such as incorporating more fiber-rich foods, prebiotics, and probiotics, while reducing processed foods and stress, can expedite the process.
- Consistency. Following a gut-friendly diet and lifestyle consistently over time can lead to more lasting improvements. It’s not just about a short-term fix; it’s about adopting healthier habits for the long term.
- Individual variability. As mentioned, each person’s gut microbiome is unique. What works quickly for one person may take longer for another, depending on their specific microbial composition and health history.
- Underlying conditions. If you have underlying medical conditions or have taken antibiotics frequently, it may take longer to restore gut health. In some cases, complete restoration may not be possible, but significant improvements can still be achieved.
- Supplements. If you choose to take gut health supplements, such as probiotics or prebiotics, the effectiveness and speed of results can vary based on the specific supplements used and individual responses.
- Medical guidance. If you have chronic gut issues or suspect a more serious underlying problem, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional or gastroenterologist. They can provide personalized guidance and treatment options.
In general, it’s best to approach gut health as a long-term commitment to a healthy lifestyle. While you may start noticing improvements relatively quickly, achieving and maintaining optimal gut health is an ongoing journey. Patience and consistency are key factors in the process.
What Are the Symptoms of Poor Gut Health?
When your digestion is off, your body cues you in with a list of discomforts. Here’s what to watch for:
- Persistent bloating
- Unpredictable bowel movements
- Excessive gas
- Sudden food sensitivities
- Unexplained skin irritations
- Joint pain
- Mood swings or irritability
These symptoms signal a potential imbalance in your gut microbiome, which is essential to address for maintaining overall wellness.
5 Expert-Backed Ways to Restore Your Gut Health
If you’re looking to restore gut health naturally, Hilary provides some things you can do:
- Manage stress. Your gut and brain are in constant communication, and stress can impact this conversation, leading to gut health issues. Learn stress management techniques to keep your gut-brain axis running smoothly.
- Eat a healthy diet. It’s no secret that your diet directly affects your gut health. Opt for balanced meals rich in fiber, lean proteins, and healthy fats to nourish your gut.
- Get on a regular sleep schedule. Just like you, your microbiome thrives on a routine. Disrupting your sleep can disrupt your gut, so aim for a consistent sleep pattern.
- Exercise. Regular physical activity can boost the diversity of your gut microbiome, enhancing your overall digestive health.
- Stay hydrated. Adequate hydration is essential for maintaining a healthy gut. Water helps in the digestion and absorption of nutrients, supports the mucosal lining of the intestines, and promotes overall digestive well-being.
Even the smallest changes to your lifestyle can absolutely help improve your gut health. As long as they’re done consistently, the impact can be monumental.
10 Best Foods to Restore Gut Health
Your microbiome is unique to you. So the best way to restore gut health is to first understand the state of your own.
“It depends on the underlying biology,” explains Hilary. However, she adds that, in general, the following are some of the best foods for gut health:
- Olive oil
- Berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries
- Fatty fish, like salmon, mackerel, and sardines
- Nuts and seeds, like almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds
Incorporating more of these foods into your diet can be a delectable way to enhance your gut health.
Frequently Asked Questions
The food industry is filled with foods that are anything but friendly to our microbiomes. And that can raise questions when you’re looking into how to restore gut health.
With Hilary’s expertise, here are some answers to three common queries:
1. How to restore gut health after alcohol
After a night out, alcohol can disrupt your gut lining. And that can lead to inflammation.
To soothe your gut, Hilary suggests reaching for bone broth and low-sugar fermented foods.
These are some of the best probiotics to restore gut health, helping to reduce inflammation and nourish your gut lining.
Additionally, sipping on calming teas like chamomile can also provide comfort and aid in recovery.
2. How to restore gut health after stomach flu
Post-stomach flu, your gut needs gentle, easy-to-digest foods. Hilary’s choices for this are:
- Bananas and apple sauce, both of which provide polyphenols without overwhelming your digestive system.
- Bone broth can calm and repair your gut lining.
- Peppermint tea helps with nausea and aids digestion.
- Coconut water for electrolytes.
3. How to restore gut health after antibiotics
Antibiotics can be a double-edged sword, eliminating harmful bacteria but also depleting your gut of the good ones. So if you’ve taken this medication, here are a few of Hilary’s suggestions that may help to restore your gut health:
- Low-sugar fermented foods, like sauerkraut and kimchi, to help increase the diversity of the gut microbiome after it has likely been wiped out by antibiotics.
- High-fiber foods to help feed the gut microbiome, like beans and whole grains.
Great Change Starts Here
Restoring your gut health is an investment in your overall well-being. It’s as Hilary says: “If we don’t have our health, we really don’t have that much in this life.” So with the right foods and habits, you can set the stage for a healthier, more vibrant life.
If you want to deepen your understanding of nutrition and help others on their health journeys, consider exploring the Mindvalley Viome Certified Nutrition Coach program. With insights from Naveen Jain, the founder of Viome, and his team, you’ll master the art of selecting gut-nurturing foods and supplements.
This program isn’t just about personal growth—it’s about empowering you to inspire change in others. When you step into your potential, you create ripples of wellness that can transform lives.
Images generated on Midjourney.