Life & Culture

Ways to Help Reset Your Gut Health, According to an RD

Jan 02, 2021 ByClaire Miles

The expression “listen to your gut” clearly has some value! When faced with a decision to make, it’s always best to go with your gut feeling on the matter, but what happens if your gut needs a reset? Let’s face it, we all need to cut out sweets or salty things for a while, especially during the holiday season. According to Desiree Nielsen, RD, the author of Eat More Plants: Over 100 Anti-Inflammatory, Plant-Based Recipes For Vibrant Living, she said,  “Your gut works hard to help keep you nourished — and when it’s not working at its best, you feel it. Most often, digestive issues will show up as excess gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or constipation.” Nielsen also adds that it’s always recommended to go check in with your doctor first. But some common causes of digestive symptoms could be due to stress, lack of fiber in your diet, and an unbalanced microbiome, Nielsen said.

Once you have your doctor’s approval, you could try some techniques to reset your gut health. One possible solution is working up to a diet rich in whole plant foods and lots of water, she added — but that takes time. “To help ease symptoms, there are some ‘quick fixes’ that can help give you a bit of relief as you are changing your diet.” In order to fix your gut issues, you must change your eating habits for good. So no quick fixes!

“My favorite intention behind a reset is to inspire more long-term change,” she said. “When you dive into really gut-friendly eating for a couple of weeks and see how good you can feel, it is easier to find the motivation to make real change! The gut microbiota (bacteria) start to shift in as little as 24 hours with dietary change, but maintaining that change means creating new habits that stick,” she said. On top of making doctor-approved dietary changes, Nielsen suggested choosing two or three of the habits below that you think you could do permanently. These will help soothe uncomfortable side effects and support your overall gut health.

First, consume ginger. According to Nielsen, ginger is anti-inflammatory and prokinetic, which means it helps facilitate the gut’s movement. “Adding ginger to smoothies is great for helping encourage movement and relieving that overfull or nauseous feeling in the stomach.” Next tip: fennel! “Fennel seeds are traditionally used to alleviate digestive discomfort and ease gas. Try making fennel tea, or even chewing on a few fennel seeds after a meal,” Nielsen said. Third tip: peppermint! Peppermint (which is an antispasmodic) can soothe the smooth muscle around the gut, Nielsen explained. “That’s not a good thing if you have reflux, but if you have gas and bloating or abdominal pain, brewing strong peppermint tea might help.” Fourth tip: consume Psyllium Husk: “If you really need to fix diarrhea or constipation, working up to one to two tablespoons of psyllium husk a day can be life-changing,” Nielsen said. Fifth tip: consume whole plants. “An eating plan filled with plants is the best way to give your gut what it needs while avoiding the things that can compromise its function, like too much saturated fat.” According to Nielsen, whole foods like broccoli, lentils, brown rice, and nuts offer a spectrum of plant fibers that can clear the gut while feeding it beneficial bacteria.