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Spring Cleaning for Your Gut: Tips for Gut Health Restoration

Gut health refers to the balance and optimal functioning of the gastrointestinal tract, including the stomach, intestines, and colon. It encompasses the efficient digestion and absorption of nutrients, the maintenance of a healthy gut microbiome, and the regulation of immune responses.

Maintaining gut health is essential for overall well-being as it impacts various aspects of our health, including digestion, nutrient absorption, immune function, and even mood regulation. A healthy gut is vital for supporting a strong immune system, reducing inflammation, and promoting overall vitality and longevity.

At the heart of gut health lies the gut microbiome, a complex community of trillions of microorganisms that inhabit our digestive tract. These microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and archaea, play a crucial role in digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune system regulation.

The gut microbiome is involved in breaking down food particles, producing essential vitamins, and metabolizing dietary nutrients that our bodies cannot digest on their own. Additionally, the gut microbiome interacts with the immune system, helping to distinguish between harmful pathogens and beneficial microbes and mounting appropriate immune responses.

Moreover, emerging research has revealed a fascinating connection between the gut and the brain, known as the gut-brain axis. The gut microbiome communicates with the central nervous system through various pathways, influencing mood, cognition, and behavior. Imbalances in the gut microbiome have been linked to mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and even neurodegenerative diseases. I have detailed these connections in my book The Holistic Guide to Gut Health.

Factors That Can Disrupt Gut Health

Poor Diet: Diets high in processed foods, sugar, artificial additives, and unhealthy fats can disrupt the composition of the gut microbiome, leading to inflammation and digestive issues.

Stress: Chronic stress can impact gut health by altering gut motility, increasing intestinal permeability, and affecting the balance of gut bacteria.

Antibiotics: While antibiotics are essential for treating bacterial infections, they can also indiscriminately kill beneficial bacteria in the gut, disrupting the microbiome's balance and leading to gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and dysbiosis.

Lack of Sleep: Sleep plays a vital role in gut health, as disruptions in sleep patterns can negatively impact gut microbiome diversity and function. Aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night to support optimal gut health.

Benefits of Gut Health Restoration

Improved Digestion and Nutrient Absorption

A healthy gut microbiome supports optimal digestion and nutrient absorption, ensuring that essential vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients are effectively assimilated into the body. By restoring gut health, individuals may experience relief from digestive discomfort, such as bloating, gas, and irregular bowel movements. Enhanced digestive function can lead to better overall nutrient absorption, promoting overall health and vitality.

Enhanced Immune Function and Reduced Inflammation

The gut microbiome plays a vital role in regulating immune responses and defending against pathogens. By restoring gut health, individuals can bolster their immune function, reducing the risk of infections and autoimmune conditions. A balanced gut microbiome also helps to modulate inflammation, preventing chronic inflammation that can contribute to various health issues, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and inflammatory bowel diseases.

Better Mood and Mental Clarity

The gut-brain axis, a bidirectional communication network between the gut and the brain, influences mood, cognition, and behavior. Restoring gut health can positively impact mental well-being by promoting a balanced gut microbiome and optimizing neurotransmitter production. Many individuals report improvements in mood, stress resilience, and mental clarity after addressing gut health issues, highlighting the importance of gut-brain health for overall mental wellness.

Increased Energy and Vitality

A healthy gut microbiome supports energy production and metabolism, contributing to overall vitality and well-being. By restoring gut health, individuals may experience increased energy levels, improved stamina, and enhanced physical performance. Optimal gut health allows for efficient nutrient absorption and utilization, providing the body with the energy it needs to thrive and engage fully in daily activities and pursuits.

Dietary Strategies for Gut Health Restoration

Incorporating Fiber-Rich Foods

Fiber is essential for maintaining a healthy gut microbiome and promoting regular bowel movements. Aim to include a variety of fiber-rich foods in your diet, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. These foods provide prebiotic fibers that serve as fuel for beneficial gut bacteria, helping to nourish and support a diverse microbiome.

Consuming Fermented Foods and Probiotics

Fermented foods are rich in beneficial bacteria known as probiotics, which help to populate and balance the gut microbiome. Incorporate fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and kombucha into your diet regularly. Additionally, consider taking a high-quality probiotic supplement to further support gut flora balance and diversity.

Avoiding Processed Foods, Sugar, and Artificial Additives

Processed foods, sugar, and artificial additives can negatively impact gut health by promoting inflammation, disrupting gut flora balance, and impairing digestive function. Minimize your intake of processed foods, sugary snacks, refined carbohydrates, and foods containing artificial preservatives, flavors, and colors. Instead, opt for whole, minimally processed foods that support gut health and overall well-being.

Drinking Plenty of Water and Herbal Teas

Hydration is essential for maintaining optimal digestive function and supporting overall gut health. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and promote regular bowel movements. Additionally, herbal teas such as ginger tea, peppermint tea, and chamomile tea can help soothe the digestive tract, alleviate bloating and gas, and support healthy digestion.

Avoid excessive consumption of caffeinated beverages and alcohol, as they can dehydrate the body and exacerbate digestive issues.

Lifestyle Changes for Gut Health

Managing Stress through Relaxation Techniques

Chronic stress can negatively impact gut health by disrupting the balance of gut bacteria and contributing to digestive issues such as bloating, cramping, and inflammation. Practice stress management techniques to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation. These practices help activate the body's parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the "rest and digest" response, which supports optimal digestive function and gut health.

Getting Regular Exercise

Regular physical activity is essential for maintaining healthy digestion, supporting gut motility, and reducing inflammation throughout the body. Engage in regular exercise routines that incorporate cardiovascular activities, strength training, and flexibility exercises. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week to promote optimal digestive function and overall gut health. Outdoor activities such as walking, hiking, or cycling can offer additional benefits by combining exercise with exposure to nature, which has been shown to support gut health and overall well-being.

Prioritizing Sleep

Quality sleep is crucial for gut health, as it allows the body to repair and regenerate tissues, regulate hormone levels, and support immune function. Aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night and establish a consistent sleep routine by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Create a sleep-friendly environment by minimizing exposure to light and electronic devices before bedtime, practicing relaxation techniques, and ensuring your sleep environment is comfortable and conducive to restorative sleep.

Limiting Alcohol Consumption and Quitting Smoking

Excessive alcohol consumption and smoking can negatively impact gut health by disrupting the balance of gut bacteria, increasing inflammation, and compromising immune function. Limit alcohol intake to moderate levels and avoid excessive drinking, which can damage the intestinal lining and contribute to digestive issues. Similarly, quit smoking or avoid exposure to tobacco smoke, as smoking has been linked to an increased risk of gastrointestinal disorders and other health issues. By making these lifestyle changes, you can support gut healing and enhance overall well-being.

Gut Healing Supplements and Herbs

Supplements such as Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Digestive Enzymes

Probiotics: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help restore and maintain a healthy balance of gut flora. They can be found in supplement form or naturally in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Probiotic supplements contain specific strains of bacteria that have been shown to support digestive health, immune function, and overall well-being.

Prebiotics: Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that serve as food for probiotic bacteria, helping them thrive and multiply in the gut. Foods rich in prebiotics include garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas, and chicory root. Prebiotic supplements are also available and can be taken to support gut health and promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.

Digestive Enzymes: Digestive enzymes are substances that help break down food into smaller molecules that can be absorbed and utilized by the body. They can aid in the digestion of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and other nutrients, reducing digestive discomfort and improving nutrient absorption. Digestive enzyme supplements may be beneficial for individuals with digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and indigestion. Our Digestive Wellness formula is designed to breakdown all the common foods.

Herbs and Botanicals with Gut-Healing Properties

Gut Wellness: I have had excellent results with the gut healing actions of this formula. It contains aloe extract, dgl extract, the amino acid L-glutamine, marshmallow root, and quercetin.

Most patients take one scoop twice daily for a month. If one has a chronic digestive issue then they take one to scoops daily ongoing.

Dr. Mark Stengler NMD, MS, is a bestselling author in private practice in Encinitas, California, at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine. His newsletter, Dr. Stengler’s Health Breakthroughs, is available at and his product line at