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I didn’t realize my health was really out of wack until it go so bad I had to have my stomach and esophagus biopsied before I turned thirty. Being in your twenties and having to take prescription medications up to six times a day is a huge clue that something isn’t working properly.
It wasn’t until I got the diagnosis that I didn’t have cancer, yet, but that the cells were changing, that I finally made the changes to start my gut healing journey.
I’m not a doctor, nurse, or trained medical professional, but I do know that the medications weren’t healing me, in fact, they couldn’t even mask the symptoms. The only way I was able to find healing, get off (and stay off for over 7 years) the meds, was to get my gut in line by the foods I put into my body.
Signs Your Gut Health is Off
Heartburn and stomach acid. This was the biggest one for me. The heartburn was so bad I couldn’t sleep at night. It was like liquid lava running up through the middle of my rib cage. It got to the point nothing helped, and I mean nothing.
Many people will experience heartburn if they eat a certain food, but for me, I had heartburn after eating first thing in the morning, even if it was only a banana. Which leads right into the next one
Food Sensitivities. If you find yourself sensitive to certain foods, it may mean your gut health needs some attention. For me, this includes coffee (this was the hardest to give up, let me tell you), soda pop, high fructose corn syrup, soy products, sugar, and grains (though I’m fine on ancient grains).
Pay attention to the way you feel after eating, do you retain water, feel bloated, increase in inflammation, break out in a rash or redness, excess gas, excess stomach acid, all of these are signs your body may not be tolerating that food.
Weak Immune System. We now know that over 70% of the immune system lives in the gut. [Source] If you’re constantly sick or feeling run down, it may be your immune system is weak and could benefit from a healthier gut.
Autoimmune Diseases. Three years ago I began suffering hypothyroidism (low thyroid), I’ve been on a prescription thyroid medication for almost 2 years, but only just recently learned that thyroid disease is an autoimmune disease. Other autoimmune disease are Crohn’s, rheumatoid arthritis, and Hashimoto’s.
Studies are showing that autoimmune disease are related to the gut. [Source]
Got allergies? Scientists found links between allergies and autoimmune here.
Irregularity or constipation. I know, I know, no one wants to talk about that thing we do every day…. or aren’t doing every day if you suffer from the latter. While how often depends on a person, generally, once to twice a day and every other day are ideal. On the Bristol Stool Chart between a 3 and 4 are the best spots.
Ways to Heal Your Gut Naturally
Clean up your food. I cut out high GMO and pesticide crops such as soy, corn, canola, alfalfa, cotton and sugar beets. Recently the FDA approved GMO apples and potatoes. Sigh.
Cut out trigger foods. I know this is harder than it sounds, but cut out common trigger items like caffeine, grains (gluten, dairy, sugar, and GMO’s. See how you feel and slowly re-introduce one food at a time and see how your body handles it.
For me personally, I’m okay with ancient grains and fermented or aged organic dairy.
Bring on the fermented rich foods. Here we’re talking traditionally fermented vegetables with live bacteria, Kombucha, yogurt, and kefir. These are teaming with good live bacteria. Easily make your own homemade yogurt here with just 2 ingredients and no appliances needed!
Bone broth. Broth made from grass fed organic animals and vegetables have nutrient, collagen, gelatin and amino acids. This study has found that people with inflammatory bowel disease have decreased levels of collagen IV.
Homemade bone broth is frugal and oh so healthy, make your own bone broth here.
Melissa K. Norris inspires people's faith and pioneer roots with her books, podcast, and blog. Melissa lives with her husband and two children in their own little house in the big woods in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains. When she's not wrangling chickens and cattle, you can find her stuffing Mason jars with homegrown food and playing with flour and sugar in the kitchen.