By now, most of you know that I suddenly ended up in the hospital a couple weeks ago, due to a blockage in my small intestine. If you haven't already, you can read about my recent health journey in my Stronger Than Before post! I've had a ton of questions come in about how I supercharge my gut health, so today, I'm sharing all of my best tips with you! After all, I believe that along with having a positive mindset, gut health is EVERYTHING.
I'm also often asked how someone would start a paleo lifestyle if you're having a Crohn's flare, or serious gut issues, as jumping right into a huge salad isn't always the best idea. While I haven't had a flare in many years, these are the same steps that I would take. This guide can be used for recovering from an illness such as the flu, or from taking antibiotics, or if your gut health simply hasn't been as great as you'd like it to be.
A few things to note before we jump right in! First off, I am in no way, shape or form telling you that this is what you should do, or that this is what will work for you. This is simply what works for me, and I'm only sharing my experience.
Also, I went into this recent hospital adventure the healthiest and strongest that I've ever been. It took me about a week to fully rebound from this experience, which is crazy fast, considering everything that my body went through. Years ago, when I was dealing with serious Crohn's flares and while on medications, it took me A LOT longer to heal. I also didn't understand the importance of gut health back then. At all. Times have changed and so have I, but I really want you to understand that if you're struggling right now, please know that lasting health takes time. You can get there too, just take it one step at a time. You've got this.
And lastly, know that I'm far from perfect. Really though, perfect doesn't even exist and it's not something that I strive for. In the same week that I did all of this I also enjoyed ice cream, flourless chocolate cake and gluten-free bread. The key word here is enjoyed. I believe that feeling any sort of guilt around food is not only a complete waste of energy, but it can also be really harmful, especially when you're trying to heal.
How I Supercharge My Gut Health
Reintroducing Foods Slowly
While I was in the hospital, I didn't eat anything whatsoever for 6 days and wasn't even allowed a sip of water for 4 days, so basically a giant glass of water sounded prettyyy amazing! Or lying under a waterfall with my mouth wide open. Either would have worked at that point. 😉
This isn't the case for everyone, but when you go through any sort of gut issues, you may be taken off of all food completely for a bit. It can take some time for your body to adjust to eating again, and for me, starting out super slow is key. In the hospital, when I was allowed clear liquids again, I started with coconut water (I love Harmless Harvest), and lemme tell you, it's never tasted so good!
Once I was back home, the first thing I had was bone broth, which I always keep on hand in my freezer. After that, I introduced my first solid food which was white rice cooked in bone broth. White rice isn't paleo, but I know from years of trial and error that it works really well with my body and is easy to digest. This is why knowing what works for YOUR body is so important, as we're all different. Once I gave it a little time and felt good eating the rice, I next had my Enchilada Soup that my wonderful hubby made for me.
I paid close attention to how my body responded to each of these foods, and as I felt ready, I added in more and more variety. So all in all, I started slowly moving from liquids to incorporating foods with well cooked veggies, and now I'm back to eating just as I was before, which includes a ton of veggies (both raw and cooked) in my diet.
Gelatin & Collagen
Gelatin and collagen are pretty much a staple in my life, no matter how awesome my gut health is. I love incorporating bone broth into my diet through soups (I have great soup recipes in my recipe index), making "gummies" with grass-fed gelatin (these are great for kids too!), and I personally use and love Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides.
Vital Proteins Collagen is super easy to incorporate into your diet, as unlike gelatin, which gels when cold, collagen blends into any liquid, cold or hot. It's tasteless so you can even add it to water!
Here's some of my recipes that use each of these:
Instant Pot Bone Broth (with a how to video! – an Invincible Inspiration members exclusive post)
Probiotics & More Probiotics
Next to bone broth and collagen, probiotics are my absolute favorite go-to for how I supercharge my gut health. Probiotics are something that I include in my daily diet as is, but I've upped the amount that I'm consuming this past week to really give my gut an extra boost. I get probiotics through multiple sources including kombucha, sauerkraut, Gut Shots (from Farmhouse Culture), kefir (I LOVE this dairy-free version that I recently came across), yogurt (not paleo, but I do great with high quality, grass-fed dairy), and straight probiotics (Puori SB3 Synbiotics is my FAVORITE probiotic – click HERE and enter code LIVINGLOVINGPALEO20 to get 20% off of your Puori purchase! Offer expires July 1, 2018).
Smoothies & Green Drinks
The only time I limit my intake of fiber is when I want to give my gut a break from needing to work hard to digest. Smoothies and green drinks are a great way to get in lots of easy nutrition without your body needing to do much of the work to digest it. I've been having them daily as an easy (and delicious!) way to get in veggies. I love PureWOD vanilla protein powder, as it has super simple ingredients that are easy to pronounce (you can save 10% by using code 'livinglovingpaleo') or I use Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides as my protein supplement.
I purchase pre-made cold pressed juices from Whole Foods (made in house there) and also make my own green smoothies by adding lots of power greens to my drink and blending it all up in my Vitamix.
My favorite greens supplement is Puori G3 Greens – which is simply organic spinach, parsley and kale – 3 of the most nutrient dense greens made into a super easy to absorb powder! I use this powder to make green smoothies, or simply mix it into a small glass of water and shoot it to get a great dose of healthy greens! Click HERE and enter code LIVINGLOVINGPALEO20 to get 20% off of your Puori purchase! Offer expires July 1, 2018).
Listening to your intuition is KEY
You know your body better than anyone else – never forget that. When you're recovering from any sort of health challenge, pay close attention to what your body is trying to tell you. This is exactly what I've been doing even more over the past week, and how I decided what order I wanted to add each food back into my diet. I've found that if I listen closely, my body will always guide me in the right direction, and the more I listen, the clearer the direction becomes.
Be REALLY kind to yourself
To me, this is the most important step of all. Recognize what you've been through and how amazing your body actually is. It's done so many things right just for you to be alive today. I fully believe that our bodies are capable of healing when given the right tools, and lots of love. Give yourself grace and simply do the best that you can. Don't beat yourself up for anything. No one is perfect, and we ALL have struggles. Tell yourself over and over that you've got this, until you believe it, and then say it again.
I truly hope that this guide for how I supercharge my gut health has helped you to get started, and makes your life a little easier. If you have any questions, ask them in the comments below!
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