If you experience digestive issues, you may be wondering: what on earth can I do to help this situation out? You’ve likely tried various things, from eating yogurt to mixing collagen powder into your smoothies. #alltherage
There are three key nutrients that I consider essential for any healing protocol. Get your notepad ready because they are:
3 Gut-Healing Foods to Improve Digestion
It’s kinda weird to imagine, but you actually have a whole mini world living inside your gut. There’s good bacteria and bad bacteria, and just like in the world that you and I operate in, there’s often a power struggle between the good guys and bad guys.
Good bacteria function like a busy little society, helping you digest your food, protecting the integrity of your gut walls, producing important vitamins, creating digestive enzymes, and strengthening your immune system. (A whopping 70 percent of your immune cells reside in your gut.) [source] But without enough good guys, bad bacteria and fungus can overgrow, leading to inflammation, bloating, and even tears in your gut walls (a.k.a.a leaky gut) which can contribute to a whole cascade of more chronic issues like food sensitivities and autoimmune conditions.
If you’re experiencing digestive issues, there’s a good chance that a power war is waging inside your intestines. So it’s especially important to help your good bacteria recolonize, and that’s where probiotics come in. You can get probiotics from food, supplements, or both. They’re one of the few things that it’s pretty hard to overdo; guidelines generally recommend around 50-100 billion units daily. Good food sources include greek yogurt, kombucha, kimchi, and sauerkraut.
L to the what? Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid (a.k.a. protein building block) in the body. [source] It supports tissues that turn rapidly, like your intestines, and essentially coats the intestinal walls and acts as a repellant to irritants. Think of it as doing for your intestines what chapstick does for your lips on a windy day.
Glutamine helps your intestines rebuild and repair, decreases the likelihood of leaky gut and inflammation, balances mucus production, and boosts immune cell activity. l-Glutamine is so powerful, it’s actually been proven to lower mortality [source] in intensive care patients. It’s definitely something you want on your side as you work to heal your gut!
Glutamine comes in two forms, but l-glutamine is the kind found in foods like wild salmon, broccoli rabe, or spirulina. If you’re aiming to get all your l-glutamine from food sources, aim for three sources per day.
3. Digestive Enzymes
Enzymes are essentially molecules that make. shit. happen. They’re like little sparks that cause reactions in your body. In the case of digestion, they make the digestion (or break down) of food possible. There are different enzymes for different foods; for example, one you may have heard about is lactase, which helps digest the milk protein lactose.
The good news is, when all is working well, your body actually produces digestive enzymes. They also exist in food sources like mango, honey, and ginger.
The bad news is, when all isn’t functioning properly and/or you’re not intentional about your food sources, it can be hard to get enough of the right digestive enzymes. So make sure to rotate as many enzyme-rich foods into your diet as possible, like kimchi, kefir, tempeh, sauerkraut, onions, papaya, bananas, and garlic (my personal fave).
Implementing Your Gut-Healing Regimen
In order to heal leaky gut, bloat, inflammation, or other digestive issues, I generally recommend consuming from each of these categories each day. That will help your bacteria balance out, your gut walls heal and seal, and your organs to have the help they need in digesting your food.
Now, I get that can sound like A LOT of things to think about each and every day. So if you’re interested in seeing it all mapped out for ya, or at least pulling from easy gut-healing recipes, check out the Taste of Health Gut Healing Meal Plan. Full of nourishing, delicious, quick and easy real-food recipes chocked full of digestive superfoods that will help you banish bloat within weeks.
Or, if you’re really looking for a deep dive on this, the more intensive 5-week program The Digestion Solution may be your best route, which includes the meal plan plus personal support from me in troubleshooting your digestive issues and balancing your system. Happy healing!