How to Reduce Gut Inflammation? 5 Ways to Improve Gut Health
Sometimes the laundry list of symptoms that we live with day to day actually come down to some underlying conditions. And for me, I spent years struggling with chronic constipation, bloating, gas, irregular periods, extreme anxiety.
And as I began to learn more, I realized that the root of a lot of my inflammation really came down to my poor gut health. So, once I began to know better, I began to do better and start taking care of my gut health.
So today I'm going to go through five ways to help you reduce inflammation in your gut and get your gut health back to five stars.
My name is Marcie Vaske. I'm a functional medicine nutritionist with Oswald Digestive Clinic. I specialize in gut health. And so, I see a lot of people who struggle with what I did is constipation, bloating, gas, some people with diarrhea, some people with indigestion or heartburn.
So, if this sounds like you or someone you know, you can easily make an initial appointment and help you get on your way to better gut health. Also, if you kind of like to do things on your own or just learn more about gut health in general, you can download our free guide, which is Five Ways to Improve Your Gut Health.
Okay, so let's dig into five ways to decrease your inflammation in your gut. If you're having symptoms or if you know someone who's having symptoms, you can help them too.
5 Ways to Reduce Gut Inflammation
Watching your Diet can Reduce Gut Inflammation
So number one is going to be what we put in our body, in our gut, right? So, it comes down to your diet. Take a look and reflect on what you're eating right now. Is your diet made up of highly processed foods, damaged fats, or eating the standard American diet?
If it is, you're gonna wanna make some big changes. And those big changes can be just step by step. But one thing you want to start doing is just getting rid of every packaged food in your house, things that have been overly processed, things that have damaged fats in them.
So, things with soybean oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, and even foods that have added sugars, specifically things like high-fructose corn syrup. Those are all toxins to our gut. It increases inflammation.
So you're thinking, okay, well if I take out all of these foods that I'm kind of accustomed to eating and it's easy and all that kind of stuff, what am I going to put in? And you know, eating healthy isn't always the easiest road to take, right? Because have to plan. We have to prepare for eating healthy.
But nowadays there's so many options out there. But if we kind of look at the diet in a whole, what I'd like to see you add in is making sure you're getting all those good healthy proteins, whether it's animal protein, if you like plant protein, just make sure you're getting enough protein in your meals.
Also, making sure you get added healthy fats. So healthy fats like coconut oil or butter or olive oil or avocado oil, wonderful fats to add into those meals to help reduce inflammation.
And of course, we wanna add in vegetables and fruits, lots of antioxidants in those pieces of those fruits that will help to reduce radical damage in the body. And by having all of these good foods, proteins, healthy carbs, healthy fats, that just alone reduces inflammation in the gut.
Now, if just making those changes really didn't change much for you, and your kind of looking at, well, what else can I do here? You can also try taking some of those, these big food groups out that are actually pre-inflammatory for the gut. So those are things like gluten and dairy and corn and soy.
Those are just a few of those most highly inflammatory foods. And of course, it all depends on the product that you're eating as well. But if you take out one of those and you tend to, you start feeling a little better.
It doesn't mean it needs to be out forever, but at that point you just need to let the gut rest and give it the foods that I just spoke about before, doing these things in a very methodical manner, actually.
So you know it's working and what's not working can really help to bring down inflammation in the gut and, and therefore the rest of your body.
Fasting can Reduce Gut Inflammation
Now, another way that you might want to do some reducing of inflammation for your gut is to consider doing some fasting. Fasting has been around for the ages, and new research is really coming out almost every day on fasting saying how wonderful it is for the body.
It not only can reduce and slow down aging, but when it comes to the gut, research has found that it dramatically helps to reduce inflammation and increase our protective bacteria.
And so by doing these two things alone, by increasing bacteria, reducing inflammation, adding in fasting might be a nice way to just slowly reduce that inflammation. And there's a lot of ways that you can do fasting and your kind of, most people, if it's you're new to it, you want to start out kind of slow.
But the most typical ones that people go with are a 16-hour fast and an eight-hour eating window.
You know, if you wanna start out even slower than that, just fasting overnight from dinner to breakfast, a 10, 12-hour fast can be great for reducing inflammation.
If you wanna take it up a notch, then you can go into that 16/8. Some people even do alternating days where they fast one day, eat normally the second day, and then they start fasting. And that's a nice rhythm as well.
The great thing about fasting, not only can you kind of make it what you want it to be in your life to get the benefit of reduced inflammation in the gut and increasing some really good bacteria, but it's super fluid and you can make it work.
If you know given the day you wake up and you're starving that day, you should probably have just a regular day. If the next day you feel like, oh, I think I can do a little bit of a fast, go ahead and do that.
So fasting is easy to put in and very beneficial along with making those dietary changes of getting in whole real foods.
Mindfulness Practices can Reduce Gut Inflammation
Now the third way I wanna talk about is to reduce your stress levels. And yes, I do talk about this a lot in the videos that I do, but I think we need to really realize how much chronic stress impacts our body and specifically our gut.
Over the past two decades, research has really been shown that doing some mindfulness practices can down-regulate that inflammatory pathway, as well as increasing our immune system.
So thinking of ways where you can reduce your stress, that would maybe start with making sure you're having good foods to eat throughout the day, making sure you're getting enough sleep, and of course, taking some time, whether it's five minutes, 10 minutes, maybe doing a walk, that's a great way to reduce some stress in your life.
Maybe it is just sitting quietly for five minutes and doing some breathing exercises or just doing a meditation that you can download on your phone. So finding ways to do this shows that it can reduce the stress in your gut. And when our gut is calm, we have less symptom.
People who really struggle with a lot of gut health, I know myself in general in the past with all the anxiety that I had, anytime I get a little anxious, I definitely feel it in my gut. So I know then that I need to take a few breaths step back from what I'm doing, and it does help to calm it down.
So I say give it a try. See if that helps to reduce some of the symptoms in the moment. And then in the long term, you are helping to reduce your inflammation in your gut.
Keeping your Gut's Immune System Healthy can Reduce Gut Inflammation
Now number four on the list is realizing and understanding that 60 to 70% of your immune system actually lives in your gut. So if your gut is inflamed, it typically means that your immune system is compromised. This immune system in our gut helps to keep harmful bacteria from overthrowing all of our good bacteria.
And we know if your gut has more of those opportunistic bacteria or flora, you are oftentimes going to have symptoms of some sort, whether it's bloating or you're having some skin issues or you're getting headaches all the time.
Inflammation can show up in a lot of different ways when it comes from the gut. So by keeping your immune system in your gut healthier, then you'll have less inflammation. So what, how are some ways that we can do this? Definitely eating foods that are filled with probiotics or healthy flora.
So things like kefir or good full-fat yogurts or miso, things that have that good probiotic already in there, you just add them into your daily foods. Also, consuming foods that have prebiotics in them.
Prebiotics tend will turn into what we call short-chain fatty acids to help keep the integrity of our gut happy and healthy and reduce our inflammation. So just by making a few food tweaks, again, we can make such a difference in the health of our gut.
Nutrient-Dense Food can Reduce Gut Inflammation
Now, number five on the list is making sure that you have good nutrients and nutrient-dense foods in your diet. Sometimes when we have a poor intestinal tract or poor gut, we're not absorbing or metabolizing the nutrients out of our foods.
Well, and if this is the case for you, then you're gonna wanna maybe look into doing some supplementation for a period of time as your gut heals. One important vitamin is going to be vitamin B.
Research has shown that vitamin B can reduce our C-reactive protein, and that's just a marker that shows how much inflammation is going on in our body.
So getting in plenty of kale, red bell peppers, chicken, turkey, things like that, that are filled with B vitamins are going to help keep your gut less inflamed.
Now, the second vitamin, or actually it's a fatty acid, and I do talk about this one a lot too, is Omega 3s. Omega-3 Fish oil is a known anti-inflammatory food that's in our food. It's wonderful for bringing down that inflammation. So keeping foods in like um, fatty fish.
So salmon, mackerel, sardines will be great to help reduce inflammation. And not only does it reduce inflammation in the gut, but it can reduce inflammation systemically. So helping you feel symptom-free and moving about and not having to worry about all this inflammation will be great.
And the next vitamin is gonna be vitamin D. Vitamin D is great as an anti-inflammatory vitamin and it's, you can find it in foods of course, but all our, our body really loves to get it from the sun. And thankfully here in Minnesota, we're coming into spring and some more sunshine.
So get out there during your walk as you're bringing down your stress, give a little vitamin D on your skin. It helps to take down that inflammation. Research has shown that vitamin D can actually lessen the ongoing chronic pain in people when they have enough vitamin D.
So if you're not able to get outside, then make sure you're supplementing with some vitamin D. And the last mineral I'm gonna bring up here is going to be magnesium. Magnesium is our calming mineral. It's amazing. It does hundreds of things in our body.
And what's one great thing about magnesium in this instance is that it has been found to decrease our interleukin 6. So, it brings down inflammation within the body.
So easy ways to get magnesium will be having nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables, and just really making sure that you are getting enough of that and to help bring down that inflammation. All of those vitamins and the minerals that I brought up, I will link down below.
So if you're interested in trying any of 'em, definitely go ahead. It's always best to talk with your practitioner about it, just to be sure that that's what you should be taking and, it doesn't interact with anything else that you're on.
So I hope that these five ways that I discussed today will help you bring down any gut inflammation you might be having. It's simple, practical things that you can do every day.
If you'd like to explore any of this information further or obtain an individualized nutrition plan, you can schedule an initial appointment at our clinic. We also take insurance and some of our clients get full coverage, which is great.
Or you can just start by downloading our FREE GUIDE: 5 WAYS TO IMPROVE GUT HEALTH