How long does it actually take to heal your gut?
Containing over 100 trillion bacteria, your gut is involved in various metabolic functions which occur in the body. Over time, your gut can become damaged by regular consumption of highly processed foods, stress, overuse of antibiotics, or a diet containing too much sugar or gluten (if intolerant).
There can be various consequences of an unhealthy gut, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, inflammatory bowel diseases, cancer, depression, anxiety and arthritis. Furthermore, approximately 70-80% of our immune tissue is located in our digestive systems, meaning a healthy immune system relies on a healthy gut. Maintaining a great gut environment can be incredibly important for various reasons and can contribute to better health and wellbeing.
Common signs of an unhealthy gut include stomach pain, bloating, IBS, constipation, diarrhoea and acid reflux. However, the absence of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean your gut is healthy! Approximately 22% of people with gut problems can have significant damage to their small intestines without experiencing any gastrointestinal issues.
Whether or not you suffer from unhealthy gut symptoms, it can be important to consider your gut health and engage in gut-friendly habits (you’ll discover more on this later!).
If you suspect that your gut may be unhealthy, you may also be wondering how long it can take to heal?!
Significant changes in gut health can occur just three days after making a dietary change. However, it can take approximately two to three weeks for a healthy gut to create a new lining and up to twelve weeks for those with a food sensitivity or autoimmune condition.
The great news is that once your gut has had time to heal, you can experience a range of wonderful benefits. Including more energy, less bloating, regular gastrointestinal functioning and clearer skin. Also, improvement in conditions like migraines, asthma, stress and anxiety, allergies and depression.
Now, let’s take a look at a few ways you can increase your gut health!
7 gut-friendly habits
Kombucha is a fermented drink made from bacteria and yeast mixed with sugar and black or green tea. Thanks to the fermentation process, kombucha is packed with probiotics which help improve digestion and immune function.
However, it can be important to consume kombucha in moderation as too much of it can worsen gut health. Experts suggest that you shouldn’t consume more than 50 kombucha calories a day (a store-bought bottle of kombucha contains approximately 30-40 calories per serving).
Wake up your gut in the morning
By sipping on a glass of warm water with lemon first thing in the morning, you can prepare your gut for the day ahead. The acidity of the lemon helps stimulate stomach acid production and prepares your body to secrete bile.
Swap regular yoghurt for sugar-free Greek yoghurt
Common types of yoghurt are often jam-packed with sugar and have few live bacteria. Which isn’t actually good for gut health!. Greek yoghurt with no added sugar can be a better option for your gut health. Especially if you add fruits containing fibre (such as banana). Greek yoghurt contains probiotics which help boost your immune system and can decrease stomach issues.
Plus, Greek yoghurt can also provide you with a good dose of protein, potassium, Vitamin B-12 and calcium.
Exercise can help promote a diverse gut microbiota (which is great for your overall gut health!). Researchers found that after 6 weeks of exercise (30-60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise 3 times per week), some participants experienced an increase in gut microbes.
These gut microbes assisted in the production of short-chain fatty acids. Which reduced the risk of inflammatory diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease. However, when the participants stopped exercising, their microbiomes reverted back to how they were before the period of exercise.
Chew your food properly
Eat in a calm state while your body is in rest-and-digest mode and aim for 20 chews per mouthful. Unfortunately, when we eat on the run, our bodies are busy diverting energy away from digestion to other bodily functions. Making it harder for our bodies to digest food.
Avoid drinking too much alcohol
Excessive alcohol can kill off good bacteria in the gut and change the ecosystem of your digestion. However, it has also been found that small amounts of red wine can increase the abundance of gut bacteria known to promote gut health and decreased the number of harmful bacteria.
Therefore, it may actually improve your gut health if you consume a small amount of red wine every now and then!
Eat a diverse range of foods
A healthy gut is usually one which contains a rich and diverse gut flora. Which can be obtained by eating a wide variety of whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The different types of foods contain various nutrients which help bacteria grow in the gut. So a diverse diet cultivates the growth of different bacteria (resulting in diverse gut flora).