3 things you can do for your gut today

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By Dr. Amy Shah, MD

Optimizing gut health is now the cutting edge of medical treatments. We are understanding that it's more than bloating, constipation or discomfort. An abnormal gut also leads to diseases like food allergies, eczema, autoimmune disease, cancer and so much more.

We are learning that gut bacteria really are the gatekeepers to your body's immune system. That means when you take a course of those antibiotics, you are really changing your immune response for a number of weeks and maybe months or even years. 

Although there are so many tonics, pills and things you could be doing for your gut, I like to keep it simple. Change your food. Changing your food is the only truly effective way achieve a healthy gut no matter what else you are doing or taking.

Here are my top 3 tips!

1. Intermittent fasting 

Intermittent fasting is probably the newest and most intriguing tool for healing the gut and lowering inflammation.

What it means is that you stop eating at 7 p.m. one day and then you don't eat again until 7 a.m. or maybe even 10 a.m. the next day.

Intermittent fasting is a great way to keep your digestive system a break and experts have found that it's also a great tool for decreasing fat, improving brain function, and, of course, healing your gut.

It intuitively makes sense considering that your body's repair functions happen more effectively at night on an empty stomach.

You should try it, starting with 12 hours a few days a week and then push to 15-16 hours two or three days a week.

Note: Pregnant and nursing mothers, underweight people, teens and children, and people with diabetes and other medical problems should check with their doctors before embarking on a fasting diet.

[FROM AMYMDWELLNESS.COM: How to get started with intermittent fasting & why it's great for your gut]

2. Plant fiber is the gut bacteria's friend

You should aim to eat 3-5 cups of vegetables every day. Veggies literally feed the good bacteria and clear out the toxins and waste products in your gut.

Here are my top vegetables.

  • Broccoli
  • *Cabbage/Cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Asparagus
  • Artichoke 
  • Dandelion greens
  • Spinach

* Remember if you are trying to eat more cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and cauliflower, go LOW and SLOW. Makes sure it's cooked well and start with 1/2 cup every other day. When the gut is not used to cruciferous vegetables, it can first get inflamed before it starts to benefit.

3. Eat more fermented foods (especially fermented fibers!) 

Fermented foods are literally bacteria-containing foods. Fermented foods are particularly helpful for those suffering from common digestive and gut issues like leaky gut syndrome, constipation, and autoimmune disorders.

Here are three great sources of fermented fiber.

Kimchi -- This is a traditional fermented Korean dish that is made from vegetables, including cabbage, plus spices and seasoning. It's excellent source of probiotics for encouraging good gut flora. 

Sauerkraut: This is similar to kimchi in that it is also made with cabbage and is somewhat spicy. One serving gives you a powerful dose of healthy probiotics that aid digestion, and research has found raw sauerkraut prevents cancer cells from forming.

Natural pickles: These are the ones from the fresh foods area that don't contain a bunch of preservatives.

Remember, health from the inside shows on the outside!

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