Radish & Yogurt Photos © Ellen Silverman for Kyle Books
by Robyn Youkilis, Certified Health Coach
“My biggest shift in body, weight, and mind happened when I focused on nourishing my gut and taking care of myself from the inside out.”
Gut Health is Linked to Total Health
Your gut is the center of your being. Yes, it digests and assimilates nutrients from the food that you eat, but it does so much more than just that. It’s where the majority of your immune system resides, and it plays an important role in your mood and hormones. So if something’s off in your digestive system, it can show up as excess weight and bloating, but it can also show up as poor sleep, chronic anxiety, embarrassing acne, fatigue, and more.
Many experts refer to the gut as your “second brain” because it contains millions of neurons, which are quite sensitive to emotion. In fact, it’s estimated that 90% of your serotonin (your body’s feel-good neurotransmitter) is made in your digestive tract, and that the production of this chemical is reliant on healthy gut bacteria.
Healthy Gut = Happier You
A healthy gut better absorbs nutrients from the food you are eating. If your gut isn’t in tip-top shape, it’s not properly absorbing the vitamins and minerals from your food and supplements, which means your cells don’t have the fuel they need to do their jobs.
A healthy gut also knows exactly what you need to feel your best. Most weight loss plans don’t work because we ignore our bodies in favor of the latest trend. When you learn to listen to your body’s unique messages, it will lead you to exactly the foods, workouts, and life choices that are best for you in each moment.
You deserve to feel amazing in your body—inside and out! It doesn’t have to be complicated. Start to focus on your gut health using these tips and practices.
What is "gut health" exactly?
When I teach about gut health, I mean two things. One is your physical gut, being your digestive system, organs, and the billions of bacteria within that help your body digest food. Second, I’m referring to your emotional gut—your intuition. What I found to be the key missing piece during my years of dieting—and the reason I could not lose weight for most of my life—was self-trust. I didn’t trust my gut and the signals it was giving me, so despite all the kale and yoga, my body still felt heavy.
It’s only when you’re willing to look at all the parts of you—body, mind, and heart— that you’ll finally feel that lightness you have been searching for on the scale. Read on for three tips that integrate the practical and emotional elements of nourishing your gut.
Tip 1: Add in fermented foods
You’ve likely heard about probiotics, but what exactly are they? Probiotics are the good bacteria and yeasts that your gut needs to carry out digestion properly.
A probiotic supplement like New Chapter®’s Probiotic All-Flora™ is great (I love that it delivers both beneficial bacteria AND yeast). I definitely recommend this for my clients who are struggling with their digestion. I also love to EAT my probiotics. Probiotics are found naturally in fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, miso, tempeh, and more. Personally, I love fermented foods for the FLAVOR! They add a unique kick to any dish.
Tip 2: Hydrate!
The first assignment I give to all of my coaching clients, no matter what their goals, is to drink a BIG glass of water first thing in the morning. Think of it flushing through the system, clearing out anything that may still be stuck from the day before. (Seriously, using your imagination helps!) Water is essential for our digestive processes. Continue to drink water throughout the day, but do avoid it with meals. It will dilute your gastric juices (especially the acid in your stomach) and essentially “put out” your digestive fire. Bonus: Mix in some New Chapter Fermented Aloe Booster Powder for additional gut-soothing benefits.
Tip 3: CONNECT to your gut
How often do you take a minute to check in with yourself? Usually we save this for big decisions, but I’m a huge proponent of asking your intuition everything: from what you’ll wear to work to what type of milk or alternative milk you want to use in your morning coffee or tea. The more you check in, the easier it becomes to connect with and listen to your intuition on an everyday basis.
One more thing...
Here’s my final tip: pick ONE of the tips above to focus on at first. Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to do it all at once. Start small and build from there. You’ve got this!
Photo © Caitlin Mitchell
Robyn Youkilis is an AADP Certified Health Coach, author of the best-selling books Go with Your Gut and Thin from Within: The Go with Your Gut Way to Lose Weight, speaker, and leading expert in holistic digestive health. She is the Founder and CEO of the global health coaching practice, Your Healthiest You. To learn more and join the #YourHealthiestYou community, head to www.robynyoukilis.com or @robynyoukilis on Instagram.