10 quick tips to improve your gut health from a registered dietitian.
Do you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome? Do you experience bloating or indigestion on a daily basis?
Most of us will struggle with gut symptoms at one point in our life. This can include bloating, indigestion, reflux, constipation and other uncomfortable gut troubles. It’s never fun. Here, I’m sharing my top tips as a registered dietitian to help with digestive health.
Keep in mind that gut health is a complex subject. These are simply general tips that could help you! If you’ve been diagnosed with IBS or other digestive conditions, talk to your doctor and dietitian for additional support. Individualized help is incredibly important in managing symptoms.
That being said, let’s get to our quick tips.
Quick Tips to Improve Your Gut Health:
Keep a food journal:
Keeping a food journal can be helpful to identify patterns in your symptoms. If you identify a specific food that triggers your symptoms, you can try avoiding it for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference.
However, beware of elimination diets that may be promoted on the internet. They’re not all helpful or evidence-based and can increase your risks of nutrient deficiency. Plus, eliminating or reducing plant-based foods from your diet can affect your microbiome.
I highly recommend talking to a dietitian before eliminating foods from your diet. This is especially true if you’re eliminating whole food groups or if you’re interested in an elimination diet. A dietitian can help assess your symptoms and determine if the low FODMAP diet is right for you – It’s best not to try the low FODMAP diet without support.
Consider taking a daily probiotic supplement:
Probiotics are live micro-organisms that, when taken in sufficient quantity, can provide health benefits. Not all fermented foods contain probiotics. Instead, try to choose a supplement that contains at least 100 million cfu per day.
If you start a new probiotic supplement, keep in mind that it might worsen your symptoms initially. This should be temporary as your body adjusts to the probiotic. If your symptoms are the same or have worsened after 4 weeks of use, try a different strain. Everyone will react differently to different strains of probiotics and you need to find one that works for your symptoms or your condition.
Finally, try to choose a brand that has scientific evidence behind their products. Bio-K+ is a great option and they offer a variety of vegan options.
Talk to a dietitian if you have questions about probiotics.
Alcohol irritates the stomach and gastro-intestinal tract, which can make symptoms worse for some people. If you notice that alcohol worsens your symptoms, either that same day or the days after, consider reducing your consumption or avoiding it, depending on your preferences and lifestyle.
Limit caffeine based on your symptoms:
Caffeine is also a stimulant of the digestive system and may worsen your symptoms. If you tolerate caffeinated drinks, there’s no reason to limit it for your gut. However, if you do notice that it worsens your symptoms, consider limiting it or choosing caffeine-free options. You can also experiment with limiting caffeine for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference. Everyone has a different tolerance to caffeine.
Have a routine:
Having a routine can make a big difference. Try eating at similar times each day and avoiding large meals in one sitting. Sit down for your meals and try to eat slowly and chew your food well.
This also includes developing a bathroom routine. This could be after breakfast and your morning coffee. Warm beverages and drinking a large glass of water could help. And don’t strain! Talk to your doctor and/or dietitian if you struggle with constipation.
Eat adequate amounts of fiber.
The general recommendation is to aim for 25g of fiber each day for women and 38g for men. Eating too much or too little fiber can make your symptoms worse. However, some people may benefit from more than this general fiber recommendation. Try to eat good sources of soluble fiber each day, from oats and ground flax seeds for example.
Drink plenty of water:
Drinking enough water is important for many reasons, but it can also help improve digestion and help prevent constipation. It’s especially important if you eat a fiber-rich diet or if you’re increasing your fiber intake.
Move your body:
Movement can help keep you regular and prevent constipation. It can also help manage stress. You don’t need to do long high-intensity workouts every day to get the benefits of exercise. Walking is a great low-impact exercise. Stretching is also a great way to move your body. Try to find something that you enjoy and that fits your lifestyle.
You can find my tips to enjoy exercise here.
Easier said than done, right? Managing stress can look different for everyone, but do what works for you.
You could try taking a bit of time for yourself each day to do something fun and relaxing. You can also try meditation or gentle exercises, such as walking or yoga.
Therapy can also be an important part of stress management.
You can find some self-care ideas here.
Eat a variety of plant foods:
Finally, plants are a good source of prebiotics, which feed the microbes in your gut. Not only will the fiber from plants help feed your microbiome, but it can also help keep you regular and prevent constipation or diarrhea (in the case of soluble fiber). Eating a variety of plant-based foods can benefit our digestive health in many ways. The general recommendation is to aim for 30 different plant foods each week!
The goal is to find a way of eating that works for you and that helps manage your symptoms. This will look different for everyone. For individualized help, it’s always best to speak to a registered dietitian.
Looking for dietitian support? Book a free 15-minute discovery call or an appointment with me here.
This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace individualized nutrition or medical advice.
Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored, but I did some previous work with Bio K+ and truly love their products!