Your digestive system, nicknamed “the gut,” is comprised of the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract), and your liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. Your GI tract is made of hollow organs that run from your mouth to your anus. The lining of a healthy gut smoothly carries, digests, and absorbs the food you eat so that your body can utilize valuable nutrients and excrete waste. In the best-case scenario, this works like a well-lubricated engine. Unfortunately, chronic stress, medications, processed and inflammatory foods, alcohol, cigarettes, and other hormone changes can disrupt the lining of your gut. This can cause nutrients and other predigested substances to escape or “leak,” and this causes an inflammatory response in your body that can be experienced as bloating, pain, cramps, acid reflux, irregular stools, joint pain, fatigue, depression, anxiety, brain fog, and insomnia. The medical world has come a long way in understanding the importance of the gut on health, but if you go to a conventional doctor, you may have never heard of a leaky gut. Just know that if you hear the term “malabsorption” or “increased intestinal permeability”—it’s the same thing.
If you experience three or more of the symptoms above, ask your doctor for a stool, blood, or breath test to assess your bacterial load and nutrient deficiencies. But you don’t have to wait for the results to take action. There are several natural nutritional and supplemental remedies you can start that come without side effects and offer fast relief. Here’s my top seven.
This is an amino acid and one of my favorite supplements since it helps with digestion and re-establishes the gut lining by literally sealing the gut. Take 1 to 2 grams daily, in the morning or at whatever time you can take it most consistently.
Choose a supplement with at least 50 billion CFU (colony-forming units). While there is much continued controversy over probiotics, I still find them helpful in regulating digestion and shifting to a healthier gut microbiome. Take a high-quality probiotic each morning with your breakfast smoothie, and consider rotating your probiotic every six weeks to maintain some bacterial diversity.
This thousands-year-old ancient remedy is a new trend again, and for good reason. You can buy bone broth, but I like to make my own and slow-simmer bones to release compounds like collagen and glycine that promote gut healing and reduce inflammation in your GI tract. It’s easy to make and freezes wonderfully, so you can make a large batch and keep plenty on hand. Bone broth is also versatile and can be used in stir fries, as a base for soups, and on its own.
These supplements work to break down your food into smaller particles, making it easier for you to process and absorb the nutrients from all the great foods you’re eating. I recommend taking one or two capsules of digestive enzymes with your heaviest meal, either lunch or dinner. Take a digestive enzyme with amylase (an enzyme that breaks down starch), lipase (an enzyme that breaks down fat), and protease (breaks down protein).
Aloe vera juice.
Aloe vera is powerful juice (you can find this in health food stores) that helps to rebuild gut lining. Drink 1 to 2 ounces per day.
Nondairy plain yogurt with live cultures.
This is a great natural way to get your probiotic without introducing dairy or lactase, which can cause inflammation.
In your blender, combine 1 cup of yogurt above, 2 teaspoons of coconut oil, a scoop of chocolate pea protein powder, and a frozen banana for a quick gut-friendly smoothie. Skipping a heavier morning meal and substituting a smoothie not only gives your digestive tract a break and promotes healing, but it also includes natural probiotics, soothing banana, pea protein, and gut-healing coconut oil—all in one cup.