It seems like gut health is all the rage lately, and for good reason.
With increasing research coming out about the microbiome, the gut brain connection, probiotic
use, etc. it’s no wonder these have become science buzzwords lately.
In today’s article, as an Intuitive Eating dietitian, I am going to be discussing how to improve gut health with Intuitive Eating.
Keep reading to learn more about your gut microbiome and what you can do to support it!
Gut Health and Your Microbiome
To start off- what exactly is the microbiome?
Our microbiome is the collection of microorganisms that live in and around our body. These microorganisms may be bacteria, fungi, or even viruses often found in our gut or on our skin.
We have a symbiotic relationship with these organisms (throwing it back to high school biology here) in which the interaction between our bodies and the organisms we carry with us both benefit.
It’s no secret that our gut health plays two major roles: helping our bodies digest our food and improve our immune system.
And about that gut-brain connection I mentioned earlier?
It can be a bit nuanced but to simplify it: a stressed mind can create a stressed gut, and a stressed gut can also send signals of trouble and stress to the brain as the connection works both ways.
Gastrointestinal distress can be the product OR the cause of anxiety and stress. And fun fact, 90% of our serotonin (our “happy hormone”) is produced in our gut!
In an ideal state, both our mind and our gastrointestinal system would function well in a low stress environment.
You now may be wondering, what does this have to do with intuitive eating?
Gut Health and Intuitive Eating
First let’s think about the negative impact of disordered eating and restriction on our gut. Restricting food intake, bingeing, and purging all can disrupt our gut’s “good bacteria”.
The non-prescription use of laxatives and diuretics can also negatively impact our microbiome, the collection of healthy microbes and bacteria that keep our gut running smoothly. Chronic dieting and yo-yo dieting can also restrict or eliminate necessary food groups (looking at you and your non-existent fiber intake Keto) that benefit our gut flora.
Further, when transitioning into intuitive eating we are challenging these all too common behaviors. We are also learning how to nourish our body in the way it wants and needs. One thing the gut loves is variety! When we leave diets and restrictions behind our gut is able to experience and benefit from a wide variety of nutritious and flavorful foods it was previously denied.
My Perspective as an Intuitive Eating Dietitian
The major goal of intuitive eating is to provide a healthier and more peaceful life without the added stress of chronic dieting and restriction.
As mentioned above, our gut and our brain have an intimate relationship. This means when our mind is operating in a chaotic, undernourished state our gut feels the repercussions as well.
Life is hard enough, the best thing we can do for our body and mind is release the stress of dieting and attempting to maintain a weight that isn’t appropriate for us. Then, this gives our body the nourishment it needs.
Interested in learning how to properly nourish your body? Make sure you are signed up for my Nourished Body Basics Course!
How to Improve Gut Health with Intuitive Eating
Variety, variety, variety! Your body, and your palate, will thank you for the increased exposure to new foods and foods previously avoided while dieting and/or restricting.
When you feel comfortable, try out some probiotic-rich foods to see what you enjoy and what makes you feel good such as kefir, kombucha, yogurt, and even pickles!
As mentioned above, managing stress plays an important role in our gut health and overall wellbeing. Ditching diets and learning to honor our bodies is a major way to take a huge stressor off but even when we are more at peace in our intuitive eating journey there will still be external stressors we cannot control. Finding healthy ways to cope with stress will benefit us in all aspects of our life.
Try meditation, taking more breaks throughout the day, finding movement you enjoy, or anything that helps you relax and breathe a little easier.
If you want to binge more intuitive eating content, head over to my blog post that talks about common misconceptions about intuitive eating!
Working with an Intuitive Eating dietitian can help you navigate your gut health and any issues you may be having.
Sign up for a free discovery call today to see if our team at Wholesome Chick Nutrition is the right fit to support you! We can’t wait to meet you.
Written by Emily Adkisson, RDN.