10 Ways To Get Rid Of Inflammation In Your Gut, According To Experts
Inflammation can affect your body in ways you may not realize, but overall, the discomfort you get from stomach issues can be the worst. Luckily, getting rid of inflammation in your gut doesn't have to be a hard. If you don't have any other underlying health issues, experts say, reducing inflammation requires just a few slight diet and lifestyle adjustments.
According to Dr. Daryl Gioffre, celebrity nutritionist and author of GET OFF YOUR ACID, when you are "pumping" acidic foods into you your body, such as sugar, grains, dairy, artificial sweeteners, processed foods, and too much protein, the gut can become inflamed. Because 80 percent of your immune system lives in your digestive tract, Dr, Gioffree says, "Proper digestive health is critical to your overall health and energy," he says.
When you have inflammation in your gut, a number of things can happen. As Robyn Youkilis, certified health coach and author of Go With Your Gut, tells Bustle, you may have the obvious digestive issues such as gas, diarrhea, bloating or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Beyond that, you may even have skin issues like acne or rosacea, hormonal imbalances, or symptoms of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or celic disease.
"The gut becomes inflamed due to toxins we take into our body," Dr. Gioffre says. For instance, leaky gut syndrome occurs when particles are able to "leak" from your intestines to your bloodstream. When toxins leak into your blood via your gut it can lead to other illnesses and chronic inflammatory conditions like skin problems, mood issues, fatigue, and other ailments.
The reality is, inflammation in the gut isn't limited to those with chronic diseases. It can happen to anyone. So here are some ways to get rid of it, according to experts.
1. Give Your Body Time To Process Foods
"We see a lot of clients come to us with dietary/inflammation issues and it's certainly a hot topic these days in our own lives," Laz Versalles, Development Director at Accesa Labs tells Bustle. We're all a little different, and certain foods react differently to our gastrointestinal (GI) systems more than others. So it's important to listen to your body when it's telling you something is off. As Versalles says, our gut or GI system is like a second brain. "When it's inflamed, that's a message telling us, 'Hey, give me a break down here!'"
One approach to reducing inflammation in your gut is to stop eating at a certain time each day. "If you have your first meal at 8 a.m., have your last meal of the day at 6 p.m.," Versalles says. This gives your body 14 hours to process food before you eat breakfast again in the morning. Talking to your doctor about whether this method is good for your body or not is your best bet.
2. Eat When You're In A Relaxed State Of Mind
Stress (even mental and emotional stress) can be a cause of gut inflammation. "This can happen because when the body is stressed, the digestive function can become compromised in order to deal with the stress at hand," Jaime Morocco, personal trainer and nutritional therapy practitioner, tells Bustle. This often presents itself in less saliva production and stomach acid, which are both essential to breaking down food. Food that isn't digested properly can contribute to inflammation in the gut. That's why you should think of digestion as a "north to south process" that starts in the brain. "It's important to eat in a relaxed state so that the body can properly prepare for digestion," she says. "Chew slowly and thoroughly so that food gets properly broken down."
3. Minimize Your Intake Of Processed Foods
You may have heard how consuming processed foods can be harmful to your health and there's a really good reason why. "Highly processed ingredients disrupt the natural balance of your gut bacteria and can make you bloated and sluggish," Youkilis says. Many processed ingredients (including preservatives, fillers, and chemicals) increase inflammation in your digestive system and damage your healthy gut bacteria. According to Youkilis, one study researched a college student eating strictly fast food for 10 days. As a result, his gut bacteria was "devastated" and about 40 percent of it was lost.
Processed foods can also mess with your "hunger hormones" by affecting important processes like metabolism. When your hunger hormones are out of whack due to things like stress, you may have an increase in appetite. "An imbalance in these hormones also causes inflammation and digestive issues," Youkilis says.
4. Get Enough Vitamin A
"Vitamin A is needed to repair the mucus membranes in the intestine and maintain the health of epithelial cells in the stomach," Rebecca Lee, Registered Nurse and founder of Remedies For Me, tells Bustle. According to Lee, research has shown that vitamin A is important in maintaining healthy intestinal barrier function. Problems in the intestinal barrier can lead to a leaky gut. You can get Vitamin A through supplements or consuming foods such as green leafy vegetables, some types of fish like salmon, fruits (especially mangos, apricots, and cantaloupe), and some dairy products.
5. Consume Plenty Of Plant-Based Fiber
"The average human intestine, if unfolded and stretched out, would be around 3,000 square feet of surface area," Sarah North, founder of SUM Bucha, tells Bustle. "However, the lining of the intestines is a relatively thin wall that is fueled primarily by a short chain of fatty acids called butyrate." When you don't have enough butyrate in your body, your body automatically assumes it's under attack and will begin to fight back and attack all bacteria, both harmful and helpful. According to North, this can lead to discomfort, inflammation, and other problems like a leaky gut or ulcerative colitis.
Having enough butyrate in your body is relatively easy. According to her, butyrate is made from the good bacteria you get when you eat fiber. "When we consume whole plant foods, our good bacteria eat the fiber and produce butyrate, which signals to our body that all is well, and continues to promote [balance] within our body," North says. When we don't consume enough fiber, a lack of butyrate can cause your body to attack any and all bacteria in your body. So make sure to eat those green, leafy vegetables.
6. Try Drinking Kombucha
Kombucha has become somewhat of a health trend in recent years for a reason. "Not only does kombucha contain a plethora of good bacteria for your gut, it also contains butyrate as well," North says. It also naturally produces acetic acid, which inhibits the growth of bad bacteria and helps to clean it out of the gut. The only caveat she says would be the amount of added sugar in some kombuchas. So you want to be sure to consume ones that contain six grams of sugar or less per serving. You should also look for kombucha that is made with organic sugar and wasn't added in post-fermentation.
7. Cook With Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Choosing the right kind of cooking oil can lower inflammation in your gut, Lisa Richards, the creator of the Candida Diet, tells Bustle. "High-quality olive oils contain omega-3 fatty acids that prevent the formation of pro-inflammatory compounds and balance out the omega-6s in the rest of your diet," she says. Having a good balance of fatty acids is essential in keeping your body healthy. So if you're cooking, look for high-quality extra virgin olive oil from a reputable brand.
8. Add Turmeric To Your Dishes
A great way to get rid of inflammation in your gut is through holistic nutrition. According to holistic nutrition expert, Jennifer Hunt, that means incorporating lots of fermented foods (like kombucha) into your diet, reducing the amount of "irritating foods" like processed food, and adding turmeric to your dishes occasionally. "Turmeric is great for reducing gut inflammation because of its active ingredient curcumin," Hunt says. "It's one of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory substances." According to her, turmeric can also stimulate digestion, and reduce bloating and gas, which are common symptoms of gastritis.
9. Try Supplements That Can Help You Maintain A Healthy Gut
Supplements should be personalized to you and your individual needs. So if you are looking for ideas, Youkilis suggests probiotics, which can be found in foods like yogurt, or sauerkraut in addition to supplements Youkilis says you can also try digestive enzymes, which are typically taken before meals, to help break down food more efficiently.
Again, everyone is different. So if you're looking to take supplements you should consult with your doctor first just to make sure it's safe for you.
10. Identify Any Food Sensitivities You May Have
Eliminating processed foods and eating more green leafy vegetables can benefit anyone. But if you really want to eliminate inflammation in your gut, you need to find the specific "trigger foods" for you. "Our bodies are amazing at healing themselves when we give them the space to do so, but if the immune system is busy fighting chronic inflammation it doesn't have the chance to promote healing," certified nutrition specialist, Emily Cerda, LDN, tells Bustle. This process, she says, is usually unique to each individual and requires a personalized plan for healing based on lifestyle and personal triggers. So if you've been having issues with your gut, try tracking any symptoms you have that may be related to certain foods you're eating. Then, work on eliminating these from your diet. If you want, a licensed nutritionist or dietician can even help you out. "Healing from gut inflammation can be a powerful personal journey in diet and lifestyle change that makes a dramatic difference in one's health, energy and vitality," Cerda says.
Inflammation can happen to anyone. The good news is, the discomfort and symptoms you may get aren't something you have to live with forever. With a few adjustments, you can get rid of it and maintain a healthy gut.