Simple Ways to Improve Gut Health

by Chrystie Dickens

Let’s talk about gut health! Gut health refers to the balance of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract. Looking after the health of the gut and maintaining the right balance of these microorganisms is vital for physical and mental health, immunity, and more.

Does your stomach always feel “off”, like you have a minor upset stomach most of the time? Have you ever thought about, or have done, a detox or cleanse? Since I have been an adult, I have tried many types of detoxes or cleanses. Most of them being, basically, starvation type plans. I can tell you that these plans were NOT for me. I have very strong reactions to having low blood sugar. I get super grumpy, have horrible headaches and, if you look up “hangry” in the dictionary, you may find my picture! LOL

But I do truly believe that we need to reset our gut occasionally, and I can now tell when I need to do it for my body. After much trial and error (see above) I have discovered that the best way for me to reset my gut is to focus on specific foods and vitamins that provide micronutrients essential for gut health.


Research has suggested that taking probiotics can support a healthy gut microbiome, and that it may prevent gut inflammation and other intestinal problems. I like to get my probiotics from fermented foods like kefir, kombucha (a household favorite is Humm), kimchi, sauerkraut and tempeh. I have a glass of Humm almost every day and I really like the zero sugar ones.


Probiotics feed on non-digestible carbohydrates and that process encourages beneficial bacteria to multiply in the gut. You may considering more prebiotic-rich foods into your diet, such as asparagus, bananas, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, onions and whole grains.


B vitamins are found primarily in fatty fish (like salmon), dairy, leafy greens and meat. Gut health depends on the stomach to function correctly, which in turn requires B vitamins. B vitamins protect the abdomen from distress and ensure the stomach and intestines work.


Vitamin C has huge antioxidant properties that aid digestion by helping the body absorb iron as well as promoting healthy gums and teeth. As well as taking supplements, you can find vitamin C easily in strawberries, citrus fruits, broccoli and peppers. I take Vitamin C daily!


Selenium enhances the gut’s response to inflammation. A lack of selenium has been proven to increase stress and inflammation, leading to potential damage to the lining of the gut which causes leaky gut. Selenium deficiency is also linked to a higher risk of bowel disease. The best source of Selenium is Brazil Nuts and they have enough in just one nut to meet your recommended daily allowance!


Healthy levels of Vitamin D have been proven to reduce the risk of colon cancer, and it aids muscle, nerve and immune system function and helps the body absorb calcium. Your body naturally creates vitamin D when you are exposed to the sun, but you can also take supplemental vitamin D. I take vitamin D year round… as you may remember from my last post.


Even a mild zinc deficiency can reduce digestive enzyme production, which increases the likelihood of leaky gut. Find zinc naturally in lean beef, lamb, oysters and liver. If you are not a meat eater, you may want to consider a zinc supplement.


Magnesium is a vital mineral for overall health, magnesium minimizes inflammation in the gut. Without it, good gut bacteria is exposed to potential harm, and it can cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate. Magnesium can be found in beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables (such as spinach).

Bottom line is that our gut health is extraordinary important to how our body functions and feels. The best way to a healthy gut is to eat a wide variety of foods. If you find yourself in need of a gut reset, try this for a week: cut out all processed food, sugar and sugar substitutes, and drink way more water than you currently are! Also consider adding some of the micronutrients I listed above.

Chrystie Dickens is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Nutrition Coach, Certified Warrior Strength Instructor, and Certified Tribe Team Training Instructor. She is the Founder of Fit and Fourtyish, a personal training and nutritional coaching program dedicated to helping people with strength, agility, balance and weight loss. She can be reached at

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