Digestion affects your health on every level, so improving your digestion can boost the health and function of your entire body. On the other hand, when digestion suffers, it can have far-reaching impacts on key areas of health—not to mention the noticeable discomfort when there are even minor imbalances in your digestive function and gut environment. Gut health is quite literally at the core of long-term wellness.
Side Effects of an Unhealthy Gut
When digestion isn’t running smoothly, it can lead to acid reflux and indigestion in the short-term, and poor nutrient absorption, irritable bowel disease, and more serious conditions in the long-term. Inflammation in the gut and other digestive problems can also have a direct impact on your brain and nervous system, mood and emotional health, immune function, hormonal balance, and more.
Because of these close interconnections, supporting healthy digestion offers a wealth of healing opportunities. If we take care of our gut, other areas of health can naturally improve as well.
Here are some expert-recommended tips for improving your gut health.
7 Tips for Better Gut Health
Avoid Eating Large Meals Before Bed
The timing of meals can have a big impact on digestive health. One key for helping to reduce inflammation and strain on the gut is to avoid eating a big meal right before bed. Sleep is a time for repair processes to take place, including in your gut, and eating right before bed interrupts this process. Your digestive system needs at least a couple of hours to digest food properly while you’re awake, so gut repair and rebalancing processes can run smoothly during sleep.1
Slow Down Your Meal Times
Taking time to prepare and enjoy your meals, and chewing your food thoroughly, can do wonders for digestive health. On the other hand, when you eat quickly on the go, while standing or driving, your body stays in a “fight-or-flight” sympathetic nervous activation, which is the opposite of the “rest and digest” parasympathetic state you want to be in during meal time. Relaxing your body is key for healthy digestion, so aim to make your meals a time for mindful relaxation and intentional eating. Chewing slowly and completely also helps process and digest your food for better nutrient absorption, weight, and overall digestive health.2
Most of us are chronically dehydrated, which can seriously derail healthy digestive function. Dehydration contributes to digestive discomfort and pain, constipation, acid reflux, gut inflammation, and increased toxic burden in the gut. Drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of filtered water (can also include herbal tea) is important for optimal gut health and hydration.
Check for Food Sensitivities
Many common foods that are part of the Western diet, are notorious for triggering inflammation in the gut and causing long-term digestive and immune problems. Dairy is a top offender because the lactose it contains is so difficult to digest for many people. Gluten from foods like wheat, barley and rye, is another ingredient that causes gut inflammation and related problems for many people. If you have ongoing digestive or autoimmune issues, it’s possible that you may have undiagnosed gluten, dairy, or other food sensitivity. Testing for food sensitivities with your doctor may help to identify problematic ingredients. A simple elimination of these foods may also be able to provide insights into what’s causing the problem. Many people who test negative on food allergy tests, nevertheless, find their digestive symptoms resolving when they eliminate specific items such as dairy and gluten.
Stress can also contribute to unhealthy digestion, and is closely linked with chronic inflammatory digestive conditions such as Irritable Bowel Disease and others. Over time, chronic stress can impair digestive function and nutrient absorption, boost inflammation, trigger immune imbalances, and contribute to more serious chronic conditions. Meditation, mind-body exercise (particularly yoga), and other nurturing, calming activity can go a long way toward supporting healthy digestion.3
Pesticides, prescription drugs (especially antibiotics), heavy metals, and other everyday toxins can damage gut health by destroying beneficial microbes, fueling inflammation and damage to the gut wall, causing imbalances in the gut pH, and promoting the growth of bad bacteria, leading to dysbiosis. Avoiding toxic substances, including highly processed foods, can improve digestive health significantly.
In addition, a healthy detox program with detoxification supplements and adequate dietary fiber, can help to bind and eliminate toxins from the gut, and help restore gut health and function. Fruits, such as prunes, and gluten-free grains, quinoa, legumes and flax seeds, all include ample amounts of healthy fiber.
Replenish Good Bacteria
Gut flora play a crucial role in digestive and overall health. Replenishing the good bacteria in your gut with probiotic and prebiotic supplements supports a healthy gut microbiome and overall digestive health. Probiotic supplements provide live strains of the friendly bacteria that are so crucial to digestive, immune, and neurological health. Prebiotic nutrients ensure that friendly flora have fuel and a nourishing environment to thrive. When you combine these essential ingredients, you’re building a strong foundation for your core wellness.
For a powerful probiotic supplement with clinically studied probiotic strains and prebiotic nutrients, try ecoProbiotic.
ecoProbiotic is a certified organic, fermented probiotic drink containing 8 strains of live probiotics, prebiotics, and 19 digestive herbs such as ginger, chamomile, and others, that are shown to actively support a healthy gut lining, balance immunity, and improve overall digestion. ecoProbiotic helps support a healthy GI environment, provide fast-acting support for occasional discomfort, promote healthy inflammation responses, and enhance long-term digestive function.
By improving gastrointestinal health, we can increase nutrient absorption, making fuel more available for our cells to perform optimally. In turn, our cellular mitochondria take advantage of this nutrient-rich environment to produce more energy, resulting in greater function throughout the body.
Improving gut health can deliver noticeable benefits in brain function, mood and stress responses, immune activity, and much more. Most importantly, enhancing gut health gives us powerful nourishment and helps us feel our best every day.
Yang JH, Kang HS, Lee SY, et al. Recurrence of gastroesophageal reflux disease correlated with a short dinner-to-bedtime interval. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2014;29(4):730-735.
Hamada, Y., Kashima, H. & Hayashi, N. The number of chews and meal duration affect diet-induced thermogenesis and splanchnic circulation. Obesity (Silver Spring).2014; 22: E62–E69.
Kanchibhotla D, Sharma P, Subramanian S. Improvement in Gastrointestinal Quality of Life Index (GIQLI) following meditation: An open-trial pilot study in India. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2021 Jan-Mar;12(1):107-111.