As somebody with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), I know a lot about how to maintain a healthy gut. Before I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (UC), I had never heard of IBD and did not know how important the gut microbiome was. This term is becoming well-known since more research is currently being done in this area. Today, I will share some of the changes I made after I was diagnosed with UC to get my gut back on track.
Our guts are incredibly complex. The gut microbiome refers to the hundreds of different types of microorganisms living in our intestines. Some microorganisms are harmful to our health and some are beneficial. Most people have good bacteria living in their intestines, which is why they do not have a digestive disorder. In my case, I have more bad bacteria than good living in my gut which causes inflammation and irritation of my intestines. Ulcerative colitis is an autoimmune disorder meaning that my body attacks the good bacteria in my intestines thinking it is a foreign invader. You can read more about the signs of an unhealthy gut on Healthline.
Our guts affect the entire body, not just digestion. One addition I made after I was diagnosed was my drink with breakfast every morning. I have always been privy to staying hydrated, but sometimes water gets boring. Now every morning, I boil water, pour it in a cup, squeeze half a lemon, and add a cinnamon stick. Boiling water kills germs and bad bacteria, lemons help you break down food easier and stimulate healthy digestion, and cinnamon has prebiotic properties that aid in the growth of beneficial bacteria. Ever since I started drinking hot lemon water with cinnamon every morning, I noticed a huge difference in my gut which in turn gave me more confidence to go about my day without interruptions.
Another addition I attempted was adding a probiotic supplement in my daily routine of vitamins. I took a probiotic supplement for a couple of months when I was experiencing a bad flare-up, but I did not notice much of a change in my gut. I supplemented the vitamin with yogurts as well, and I found out very quickly that yogurt and dairy specifically does not agree with me. This was a trial and error experience. Since then, I no longer take a probiotic supplement daily. There is little research that proves a probiotic supplement has a positive effect on the gut. If you are interested in a probiotic supplement, I would suggest getting the probiotics from your diet instead by adding things like Kombucha or fermented foods. Of course, you should always consult with your doctor first before adding any type of supplement into your daily routine. You can read more about the benefits of probiotics for the gut at the Cleveland Clinic.
In addition to these two things, I added more fruits and vegetables into my diet. I specifically made the decision the cut out all refined sugar in my diet (cookies, cakes, desserts, added sugars), and ever since then I have reaped the benefits. In addition to all the other changes I made in my lifestyle, cutting out refined sugar got me into remission. Today, I look and feel healthy and rarely have issues with my gut. I want to emphasize that just making one change in your diet or routine is not going to positively impact your gut microbiome. It takes a combination of things that work specifically for you. Not everyone is the same and it really is a trial and error process, so be patient.
This week I challenge you to do research on the gut microbiome and see where you can make additions or subtractions in your diet or lifestyle to help you maintain a healthy gut.