I had never really been into drinking or going out, not even in college; I was always that girl that ditched parties or stayed in to go to bed by 9pm. I guess you could say I began my “party” stage a little late in the game.
I moved to Denver, Colorado a few months after graduating college in 2008, and I felt like the whole world was at my fingertips. So began the weekends of drinking until 2am, devouring pizza, and passing out, just to wake up and do it all over again the next night.
With this newfound lifestyle, I began the waking up in the middle of the night any given week night with severe stomach cramping, diarrhea, headaches, and nausea so bad it would make me throw up regardless of how much I drank, if at all.
Debilitating symptoms of this mystery illness continued consistently for years, accompanied by anxiety, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis flare ups, gradual weight gain, and alternating between constipation or diarrhea. (insert endless doctors appointments, testing and hypochondria here).
In 2012 I met my now husband who loves beer. By love, I mean LOVE. At the time he even brewed his own on a weekly basis. So of course I indulged in numerous craft brews on a daily basis and spent many nights at local breweries (At the time, I had no idea I was gluten intolerant nor did it even cross my mind that it could be why I felt so sick). Accompany the beer intake with a not-so-great diet and naturally my symptoms turned from once a week to 5 times a week (insert even more doctors appointments and being diagnosed with anxiety and IBS here)
I had a “gut” feeling (no pun intended) that my symptoms had something to do with digestion and the food I was eating. My body was not functioning properly and I was determined to figure out what it was. Not to mention I was irritable and depressed because I felt so sick all the time – I was not so fun to be around.
One lucky day I was listening to a podcast and they were discussing Leaky Gut Syndrome and SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) it rang a bell, a really loud bell. These symptoms sounded all too familiar. I proceeded to order every book on Amazon regarding digestion, and downloaded every podcast I could possibly find regarding Leaky Gut and SIBO.
I decided I would heal my gut on my own.
My experience was riddled with trial, error, and heartache, I mean, I had to give up beer…. But in the end it was all worth it because I am ecstatic to confidently say that i have completely reversed my digestive issues and feel amazing.
The photo on the left is during the time I was bloated and inflamed from digestive issues, and on right is a year after healing my gut.
Through my experimentation I have dabbled in lots of diets and supplements, some of which did not work and others that did. The journey was just as valuable to me as the destination, but not everyone has to go through the struggles I did, so I would love to share my experience as a roadmap for all of you!
Here are my top 8 remedies that helped reverse my leaky gut, all of which I still incorporate into my routine to this day:
1. Diet Changes
In all honesty this is the biggest factor in gut health and is necessary in order to heal your body. All of the following remedies will not do much good if you have a poor diet.
In my case, I switched to a Paleo based diet, which I still follow to this day. Your healthy diet may look different than mine but the processed foods have really got to go. “Processed foods” can sometimes sound like a buzzword, but they are really easy to identify – avoid anything that has more than 5-8 ingredients on the label and all 5 ingredients should be recognizable. (for example, trade that processed high-fructose corn sugar for foods sweetened with dates, and you will be one step in the right direction)
2. Bone Broth & Collagen
Whether you throw some collagen peptides in your morning coffee or you are hardcore and drink a cup of bone broth first thing in the morning (I do both), this protein helps to heal and repair your intestinal lining and reduce inflammation. Bonus- it is great for hair, skin, nails, and joints. Both are also high in minerals including calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and other trace minerals, all in a form that is easy to digest.
The best way to know what is in your broth is to make your own at home! Get my easy recipe here! Collagen peptides I use here.
Ginger has been used for thousands of years as a digestive remedy. There are a slew of benefits from treating inflammation, painful periods, to migraines but it’s main use is to help reduce bloating, flatulence, intestinal colic, IBS and poor digestion as it stimulates digestive acids supporting the digestion of food and nutrient absorption. I drink ginger tea every night after dinner. I also have ginger supplements that I take with me everywhere for anytime my stomach is feeling a bit off. Ditch the tums, get some ginger supplements!
4. Morning Water
I call this my morning detox. Every night before bed I set out a 32 ounce glass of water with a small pinch of high quality Himalayan pink salt. I drink this every morning right when I get up. This really helps to stimulate your digestive tract and get your body active. If your not pooping everyday, that’s a problem. It is our bodies natural way of detoxing and necessary for good gut health. Needless to say, I haven’t been constipated in years! Himalayan Salt I use here.
Your gut consists of tons of bacteria, some good, some bad. In a healthy human, the good bacteria far outweighs the bad, but things like sugar, gluten, and processed foods can drastically make those bad guys more prominent.
Probiotic supplements help to rebalance the gut bacteria. Taking a probiotic can do wonders all on its own, flourishing your gut with good bacteria to help you digest and break down foods properly. Bonus- it also helps to build up your immune system. You don’t want to just buy any random probiotic off the counter, not all are created equal and I could argue that some don’t even contain the number of probiotics listed. My top probiotics: Bifido Balance (this is great for people that were not breast fed as a child) and Bio Kult.
Kombucha is a probiotic fermented tea. Kombucha is not only great for your gut health but has so many other benefits like antioxidants that fight off free radicals, prevents against cancer, supports a healthy weight, and ups your immune system. And you can make your own at home! Get my recipe here. It can also be found at most whole foods and natural grocers, my favorite brands are GT’s Living Foods and Brew Dr. Kombucha Try not to get mothered! If you’re new to the Kombucha game, you will learn what that is very quickly!
Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage that also contains probiotics. A recent study has shown that Sauerkraut topped the charts for probiotic count, surpassing that of over-the -counter probiotics. Article can be found here. My favorite Sauerkraut here.
Apple Cider Vinegar is a prebiotic which feeds the probiotics, it helps the probiotics to flourish. Take a few tablespoons in a glass of water in the morning before eating to aid in digestion. Make sure it’s good quality! Preferably Bragg’s, it contains the mother.
GAME CHANGER! Not only did this help with my sleep it was a major contributor to my digestion and constipation problems. 80% of the population is deficient in this essential mineral so regardless it is a great supplement everyone should be taking. I could have a a post solely on the benefits of magnesium and how this supplement has helped me.
Magnesium works to bring water into your bowels through the large intestine so that your stool becomes softer and easier to pass which is why supplementation is a great for someone who has constipation issues. Magnesium is very important for optimal digestive and overall health. Supplement I use here.
7. Removing Triggers
Through my research I found some information on the FODMAP diet and in all honesty, a Low Fodmap diet was what changed my life. I was determined to figure out what foods were causing me digestive distress so I decided to follow this diet for a month to see how I felt and it did WONDERS!
I learned so much about my body and highly recommend it to anyone having digestive distress. It’s a tough process but worth it if you want to feel good. A few things I realized I had a hard time digestion were processed sugars, gluten, dairy, apples, edamame, beans, etc… A lot of which were healthy options, but they just weren’t right for me.
Fast forward to today, since I have followed the above regime and completely healed my gut I have brought back in a lot of these foods and have had zero digestive distress.
So what are FODMAPS? FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. In short, its foods that contain short-chain carbs that are hard to digest, which can lead to bloating, cramping, indigestion, diarrhea and/or constipation.
Some great FODMAP guides can be found on Pinterest here. If you have any questions at all about how to approach the FODMAP diet or if it is right for you, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
8. Squatty Potty
Yup, I said it. Just do yourself a favor and go get yourself one of these bad boys! You will thank me later. Buy yours here.
Keep in mind, just like everything else, this is a process, you will not be healed overnight. And remember changing your diet is key and a necessary first step before any of these remedies. Improving your digestion is really the first step at improving your health.