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    How To Heal Your Gut: More Than Just Probiotics

    Unlock the secrets to holistic gut health beyond probiotics. Discover a comprehensive guide on 'How To Heal Your Gut,' exploring diverse strategies, nutrition tips, and lifestyle changes. Empower your digestive well-being with expert insights, addressing the intricate balance within your gut microbiome.

    By Liv Surtees  / Dec 18 2023

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    Whether you’re feeling bloated, lacking energy, feeling down, regularly getting sick, struggling with side effects after taking antibiotics, or you simply want to detox and have a physical “reset”, the gut is the place you need to be focusing your energy on.


    The gut is one of the most powerful areas in the body and the health of the gut has an impact on various aspects of health - it holds the highest number of immune cells in the body, has a strong link with your cognitive function, and it produces a large number of the neurotransmitters that affect your mental health.


    Therefore, beginning the journey of healing your gut can impact your overall health and wellbeing, as well as obviously improve the health of the gut directly.


    So, are you wanting to take the first step and learn how you can heal your gut? Well, here’s your guide: we’ll be telling you everything you need to know and help you level up your gut health game, now.

    the 5 "rs" of gut health

    Whilst there are certain things you can do to help support the health and healing of your gut, the most impactful way to heal your gut is to use the “5 R” framework for gut health. This 5-phase process can help change the health of your gut and reduce symptoms from gut-related conditions in the most obvious and impactful way. 


    Although experts suggest that the “5 R” framework can take anywhere from 12 weeks - 6 months to produce the most long-lasting benefits, you may start noticing and feeling the benefits of improved gut health from the very first phase, which can occur pretty much immediately.


    So, let’s take a look at this framework and guide you through it.

    phase 1: remove

    The very first thing you need to do is remove the stressors, physically from your diet and mentally from your environment, that you know (or may notice with time and thought) cause your gut the most distress. 


    When it comes to your diet, if you’re unsure what your food triggers or stressors are, it can be useful to keep a food diary for a certain amount of time (a week, minimum) to see when you react to the food your eating. If you notice that certain foods trigger bowel movements, make you feel lethargic, or cause any type of detrimental effect, these are the foods you should be cutting from your diet.


    If you are looking for maximum results, things that should be removed from your diet are: dairy products, sugar, beans and pulses, caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods - these are also the foods that most commonly cause triggers.


    Similarly, and as discussed further in our article on the mind-gut connection, you need to make an active effort to reduce your stress levels, particularly if you notice that when you’re exposed to certain situations or specific emotions arise, your gut reacts. For example, if you know that a certain situation is causing you so much anxiety to the point where it’s prompting irregular bowel movements, it’s time to remove that from your life too - it’s all about taking a holistic approach, not just tackling your food intake.

    phase 2: replace

    Now that you’ve removed stressors from both your diet and environment, it’s time to add things to your diet and lifestyle that can help you kickstart the gut healing process.


    The aim of this phase is to give your gut the things that it needs to heal in the most effective way possible.


    In your diet, during this phase, you should add:


    • Digestive enzymes to support the digestion of your food (either through foods packed with digestive enzymes such as pineapples, papayas, bananas, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and ginger, or through supplements.


    • Betaine HCL to boost stomach acid levels and support the breakdown of foods (through supplements).


    • Bile salts to help digest fats in food and remove toxins from the gut (through supplements).


    • Leafy greens, such as rocket, kale, and spinach, to help promote the growth of healthy bacteria.


    • Any supplements you need to address deficiencies you have or will potentially have now after removing certain foods from your diet.

    phase 3: repopulate + reinoculate

    This phase, known as the repopulation or reinoculation phase, is where probiotics actually do come into play! This phase is all about building up the microbiome and promoting the growth of healthy, balanced, and strong bacteria within the gut.


    In this phase, you should be adding both probiotics and prebiotics into your diet, either through the foods you’re consuming or through supplements.


    Probiotics are live cultures that provide the gut with good bacteria and boost the microflora of the gut. They also help to ward off bad bacteria in the gut that could cause potential illness. 


    Probiotic supplements such as Ross J Barr Probiotic Formula and Marie Reynolds Probio+ are especially powerful. However, you can also add probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, kombucha, tempeh, kimchi, and sauerkraut into your diet.


    Prebiotics are specialised plant fibers that help to feed the existing good bacteria in the gut. 


    Prebiotics supplements provide huge benefits, but prebiotics can also be added to your diet by eating foods such as apples, legumes, artichoke, leafy greens, and wheat products.

    phase 4: repair

    The repair phase focuses on supporting the gut, and more specifically the gastrointestinal tract, to heal itself by ensuring you are consuming enough essential nutrients. 


    In particular, micronutrients such as zinc, vitamins A, C, D, and E, omega 3, and foods rich in amino acids and collagen (such as bone broth) are added to the diet during this time. These nutrients all help to reduce inflammation in the gut that may exist both from conditions before or due to the gut cleanse you’re undertaking, and support the healing of the gut lining.

    phase 5: rebalance

    The rebalance stage focuses on the lifestyle you live and helps you find balance within it. During this time, foods can also be slowly reintroduced to the diet in a mindful manner, slowly (however, it’s still best to completely stay away from trigger foods). 


    However, this phase focuses specifically on improving the lifestyle you have to incorporate more movement, practice more mindfulness, and reduce your stress levels. We thought we’d split this phase into two elements: for your body and for your mind.

    for your body: move

    Movement provides benefits both for your physical and mental health, and also directly for your gut! Regular movement stimulates the gut, and helps to promote digestive activity, reducing the likelihood of digestive issues and conditions.


    So, aim to practice a form of movement you like every day, whether that’s yoga, kickboxing, walking, running, or simply stretching - find what feels good for your body and make it a part of your daily routine! On Dandy, we have a selection of products that can make your active lifestyle even more enjoyable, so take a look around our shop.

    for your mind: de-stress

    As mentioned, the mind and the gut are intrinsically linked. Therefore, not only during the process of putting the “5 R” framework into practice but every day after then, you should aim to bring mindfulness into your life to reduce the mental stressors you have.


    Taking even just 10 minutes a day to let go of any stress your mind and body is holding onto, reconnect with yourself, and find a place of calm and clarity can do wonders for your overall wellbeing, and even more specifically, your gut health.


    Mindfulness looks different to everyone, so explore what helps you quiet the noise most effectively and then do it on a regular basis, whether that’s journaling whilst laying on an aromatherapy pillow, using an acupressure mat, lighting a candle and meditating, or practicing mantras whilst applying a beautifully indulgent self-care product.

    it's a long term thing...

    Whilst some may like to pretend they’re just a juice cleanse away from a healed gut, healing your gut isn’t a quick fix - as you’ve read in this article, it’s more than taking a few probiotics or drinking a certain type of tea for a few days. However, it is worth it.


    So, when you’re ready to embark on your gut healing journey, and throughout it, just remember that you’re healing your gut for the long-term benefit and practice patience - it’s not going to change all at once. Just keep working away at it and prioritising the health of your gut and you’ll get there!

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