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How To Optimize Digestion and Improve Gut Health Naturally

gut issues

gut issues

Digestive issues, weight problems, fatigue, depression and anxiety, bad skin, hormone imbalances and autoimmunity… 

Any ONE of these issues can make life hard. Combine a few or maybe all of them and you’ll know what it’s like to live with gut dysfunction it’s brutal! 

And to make matters worse, the root cause may not be intuitive or obvious and is therefore easily overlooked. 

If you struggle with digestive woes, skin issues, mood disorders, and other chronic health problems, an unhealthy gut may be the source of your suffering.

In fact, one of the most cited quotes of ancient Greek physician Hippocrates illustrates the importance of this notion:

“All disease begins in the gut.”

The good news is you can heal your gut, transform your health and reclaim the freedom to live your best life.

For many people, fixing their gut issues is as simple as making better dietary and lifestyle choices, and supplementing as needed. For others, however, their issues can be far more complex and require a bit of detective work to find the root cause of their problems, and trial and error to find the right combination of strategies. 

In other words, the gut can be complex. There are many different combinations of issues one person can be dealing with at a time, all of which could never be fully covered in one article! 

However, in an effort to point you in the right direction, this post will… 

  • Explain why gut health is foundational to overall health.
  • Address the two most common gut issues that unknowingly plague many of us with mysterious health problems..
  • Give you a list of steps to optimize digestion and improve your gut health naturally. 

Why Gut Health Is Essential to Overall Health

Many people question the notion that a broken gut may be the root cause of their health problems, however the gut does a lot more than just digest food.

Here are some facts to highlight just how linked gut health is to overall health: 

  • Roughly 70 percent of the immune system lives in the gut. 
  • So do 300-500 different species of bacteria which have been shown to support a wide range of bodily functions. 
  • The gut contains 500 million neurons (brain cells) and is directly connected to the brain via one of the body’s largest nerves (the vagus nerve).  
  • A growing body of research is showing an unhealthy gut contributes to a wide range of serious health conditions including but not limited to diabetes, obesity, depression and anxiety, autoimmune disease and more. 

So, if you’re suffering with poor health and you’ve exhausted yourself trying to treat your symptoms, perhaps it’s time you listen to your gut. 


The Two Most Common Gut Issues And How to Improve Gut Health Naturally  

Many of the common symptoms associated with poor gut health can be linked to two specific gut disorders: 

  • Bacterial imbalance
  • “Leaky Gut”

Gut Issue No. 1: Bacterial Imbalance

The gut is home to a giant bacterial ecosystem called the gut microbiome

In addition to regulating numerous bodily functions, a balanced microbiome helps…

  • Excrete toxins
  • Produce vitamins
  • Manufacture hormones
  • Digest and extract nutrients from food

In a healthy gut, the hundreds of different species of bacteria coexist peacefully. However, that balance is constantly being disrupted by the stressors of our modern lifestyle, including…

  • Stress
  • Poor diet
  • Infections
  • Antibiotics
  • Environmental toxins
  • Oral contraceptive pills 
  • Circadian rhythm disruption

These insults disturb the gut microbiome, which can lead to the proliferation of “bad” bacteria, the elimination of “good” bacteria and even an overgrowth of normal bacteria in the wrong place, such as the small intestine (a condition known as SIBO). 

As a result, brain function, immunity and the other biological systems regulated by our gut flora become weakened and any number of related health problems may manifest. 

Symptoms of Bacterial Imbalance 

  • Skin issues
  • Poor immune system
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Vitamin or nutrient deficiencies (despite a healthy diet)
  • Gas, belching, or bloating after meals (especially when containing high FODMAP foods)

Think you might have a bacterial imbalance? There are a number of different tests available to help you confirm. Consult your healthcare practitioner for more information.   

How to Balance Gut Bacteria

The first step to rebalancing the microbiome is removing the foods that perpetuate the overgrowth of the “bad” bacteria or the spread of normal bacteria to the parts of the gut where it can be harmful. 

The most common problem foods include:

  • Sugar
  • High FODMAP foods
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Fermented foods (when the goal is to starve the “bad” bacteria or temper bacterial overgrowth, it’s generally recommended to avoid fermented foods. However, when the goal is to populate the gut with “good” bacteria, adding more fermented foods can be helpful.)

To streamline your diet, consider adhering to one of the following dietary plans for 30-90 days to see if your symptoms improve: 

When it comes to supplements, these three herbal antimicrobials can help manage bacterial overgrowth:


Gut Issue No. 2: Leaky Gut

If you normally think of the gut as a long tube that takes in food at the mouth and eliminates undigested biomatter from the anus, you are correct. However, that tube isn’t of the garden hose variety. 

The lining of the gut is a complex system of specialized cells that work together to contain, consolidate and eventually expel waste and other potentially harmful substances. 

When the intestines become hyper-permeable, undigested food proteins, toxins, and pathogenic substances “leak” into the bloodstream, which then signals an immune response. This condition is known as intestinal hyperpermeability, more commonly referred to as “leaky gut”.

The immune response mounted from undigested food particles getting into the bloodstream results in higher levels of inflammation. This can be a primary driver of a number of health conditions including eczema, autoimmune disease, obesity and more. 

Leaky gut can be caused by many of the same diet and lifestyle factors that contribute to a microbiotica imbalance, namely poor nutrition, stress and environmental toxins. Other causes include:

Symptoms of Leaky Gut

  • Fatigue
  • Skin issues
  • Mood disorders
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Poor cognitive function
  • Food allergies or sensitivities
  • Digestive issues (gas, bloating, IBS, Crohn's)

Testing is the best way to find out if you’re struggling with a leaky gut. To find the best test for you, consult your healthcare practitioner.  

How to Seal Up a Leaky Gut

A good place to start is to avoid the things that cause inflammation or contribute to the permeability of the digestive tract. Top offenders include… 

  • Gluten
  • NSAIDs
  • Vegetable oils
  • Lectins (most concentrated in grains, legumes, nuts and seeds)

Adding more of the following foods can support the regeneration and restoration of the gut lining:

  • Aloe vera
  • Bone broth
  • Chia seeds
  • Fermented foods

Specific dietary plans to help simplify food choices are: 

Several supplements are known to work synergistically with diet and lifestyle to improve leaky gut. Here’s the shortlist:

kion colostrum

The Most Underrated Strategy to Improve Gut Health: Optimize Digestion

Let’s be real…fixing a broken gut is not a simple project. 

Unless you’re lucky, finding what works will require diligent self-experimentation, patience and persistence. 

However, whether you have a bacterial imbalance, leaky gut or both, ensuring good digestive hygiene will support all of your efforts and may even reduce the severity of your symptoms within a few days.  

With that in mind, here are a few simple ways to optimize digestion naturally and improve your gut health. 

Eating Habits:

  • Avoid rushed meals or eating on the go. 
  • Avoid drinking large amounts of liquid with meals
  • Eat slowly and mindfully. Chew each bite 25 times. 

Movement:

  • Avoid sitting for long periods of time. 
  • Walk for at least 15 minutes after meals.
  • Sprinkle in yoga, stretching and twisting into your day. 

Give Your Gut a Break: 

  • Avoid frequent snacking. 
  • Intermittent fast for 12-16 hours each day. 
  • Take time between meals to let your food digest. 

Use Natural Aperitifs and Digestifs:

  • Add natural aperitifs and digestifs to your water or in the form of tea before or after a meal to enhance digestion. These include lemon, lime, apple cider vinegar, ginger, dandelion, fennel, peppermint and others. 

Summary 

Gut health is a keystone of overall health. And since a broken gut is associated with a number of different health problems, diagnosing and treating it can be difficult. 

The two most common types of gut issues are bacterial imbalance and intestinal permeability. 

The root causes are associated with many of the features of our modern lifestyle including poor diet, chronic stress, environmental toxins, and more. 

Addressing your specific gut issue will likely require modifications to your diet, supplementation regimen and lifestyle with special attention paid to improving digestion. 

The best way to confirm if you’re struggling with one or both disorders is to get tested. Consult your healthcare practitioner for guidance on the best tests given your symptoms. 

With disciplined self-experimentation and a willingness to play the long game, you can find the right combination of methods to heal your gut, restore your health and reclaim your life. 

If you’re looking to dial in your gut health supplement program as a complement to your diet and lifestyle modifications, check out Kion Oregano Oil which supports the rebalancing of your gut microbiome. To help with a leaky gut, try Kion Colostrum and Thorne MediClear, both of which include ingredients to help maintain the integrity of your intestinal lining and improve digestion.

29 thoughts on “How To Optimize Digestion and Improve Gut Health Naturally

  1. The gut is a very complex issue. Sorry, long story but I hope it helps someone, as I was in the dark for years.

    I had serious acid reflux. It started after a respiratory infection*. I suspected that it was from mold or bacterial exposure at work. I had to stop working there.

    I saw many doctors and tried the common things including betaine HCL, which helped a bit. I never took PPIs though because I didn’t believe they would solve the root (and they wouldn’t have). Caffeine on or off had no apparent effect. Beer actually helped consistently (???).
    I took P3-OM from bioptimizers and it made it even worse! **

    Then I started treating it differently: I took diatomaceous earth (for parasites), oat groats (for candida), keffir (for bacteria). One or more of those things started to help. After a while, the gut seemed fine, but I developed a bacterial respiratory infection* that lasted about a month. After that I was fine until I traveled and my routine was off. The reflux returned and I developed a metallic taste in my mouth that would never go away.

    I did a genetic test, and a gut biome test. Some of the results were surprising. I was sensitive so many foods that I ate regularly. Also my genes did not work with a very common type of B12 (methylcobalamin), which gave me sever reactions, though without B12 supplements there are other issues. I found a better form of B12 for my body by analyzing the genes (https://www.knowyourgenetics.com/)

    After changing my diet and supplements everything seems fine! Once in a while reflux can come back if I accidentally eat certain foods, or some kombucha and apple cider vinegar (or some certain bacteria). ** However, now P3-OM seems to fix things instead of break things! How complex… it takes TIME to heal, and your body changes its bacteria over that time as well. No physician was able to help. But by listening to Ben and other health podcasts, I was able to navigate on my own to this point of repair. There is also a spiritual side to the body that seriously plays a role in your overall being that is really undeniable in my experience.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your personal experience, Peter! So glad to hear you’ve been able to experiment and find things that work for you. Great example of how complex gut issues can be, but how you can definitely find the root cause and make tweaks to improve!

  2. I’ve had a leaky gut 2 years ago. I suffered from all the symptoms Ben discribes in this article. I used L Glutamine Complex, probiotics and collagen protein. I am a bit surprised that i don’t see those options in this article. Can I ask why?

    1. Hey Thomas, thanks for sharing your story! It’s hard to include everything that could work for gut issues in one article without turning it into a huge list… but we do agree those things can work and we actually included more natural sources for them instead.
      Bone broth: Glutamine + collagen
      Fermented foods: Probiotics
      MediClear: Glutamine + more

      So they’re in the list, just not specified outright. 🙂 Thank you for your question!!

  3. Hi , Anna here . I had my gall bladder removed two years ago and it’s left me with severe bile salt malabsorption! I had a special nuclear scan which revealed that my problem was so severe it causes constant cramps and very severe diarrhea! My life is a nightmare ! I have to take questan powders – up to six a day – sometimes even that doesn’t work ! The powders make me feel so ill but I’m forced to take them or I’m stuck on the loo and incredibly weak !
    I’ve tried fasting , various probiotics , cutting out sugar , milk and gluten – tried fasting , traditional herbal meds , slippery elm , enzymes – but I’m still exhausted in pain and tied to my house most of the day ! Please have you any suggestions ? It’s like petmantly having dysentery!
    I’m presently in Kenya but I’m from uk
    Kind regards
    Anna

    1. Hey Anna, thanks for your question and we’re so sorry to hear about your condition! Unfortunately, we aren’t medical doctors and can’t give you advice on such a serious issue. We recommend finding a good doctor you can work with, or check out our list of health coaches at getkion.com/kion-coach. Best of luck and hope you can get healthy soon <3

    2. Are you a meat eater? If not, look into your choline intake and choline in general. Without eating meat, you have a hard time meeting the recommended daily intake. Soy lecithin or eggs offer the best alternatives to get it up easily. You can test this by simply adding soy lecithin to your daily meal plan and within days you should be able to see if it makes a difference or not.
      Over 40% of people seem to have a malfunctioning gene that makes them, unlike the rest of the people, dependant on external choline.
      Just start googling choline and studies related to it as there are a lot of great sources out there, of which I’m not one.
      My sister had her gallbladder removed and some other stomach issues, and so I started investigating everything possible related to her condition and wound up recommending testing out soy lecithin. It didn’t fix all of her problems, but it did help with bile secretion within a few days. Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional.

    3. Hi Anna, I would try boosting your NAD with a supplement like trueniagen and look into getting some c60 I reccomend myvitalC they have the safest and original c60 on the market. Hope this helps

      Sam

    4. Hi Anna, Jean-Felix here. The gall bladder is crucial for the digestion of FAT’s. Since you do not have one anymore the use of LIPASE enzymes (enzyme that digest fats) is so important with every meal and on an empty stomach. Bioptimizers sells (KePax) which is a blend of multiple lipase enzymes. A few of my friends who had their gall bladder removed and started using lipase with their meals and empty stomach have relieved many of the issues you are having. Give that a world :).

  4. Stop eating sugar. Sugar in any form will cause “bad” bacteria to flourish in the gut. Those bacteria will send a chemical signal to your brain to eat more sugar and your brain will “urge” you to consume more. This is what some people call a “Sweet tooth”. It takes about 7-10 days to get free from sugar, but is certainly worth it. At least it was for me. After I quit all sugar and most forms of carbohydrate within a month all of my stomach and gut issues went away completely. Also oddly enough I got really calm. The sugar and carbs caused me to be anxious. I lived this way for most of my life because I didn’t know better. Now I only eat sugary things once in a great while (special occasions) and it doesn’t seem to affect me negatively. So glad to get off of sugar.
    Its evil stuff 🙂

  5. How long does it typically take to fix a leaky gut amd/or SIBO? and how much fermented food does one need to consume daily to start noticing a change? Thx

    1. Hi Lori, That’s a tough question as it depends on the amount of damage. It’s best to post questions like this to the Kion Community, where you will likely find someone who has experience with treating these conditions. Facebook.com/groups/GetKion.

  6. I’m surprised you didn’t mention your “tea” recipe from a few years ago made from marshmallow root, licorice root, and slippery elm bark. I got a nasty bug last Oct and after antibiotics were done, I used that tea, your colostrum, and your probiotics and for the month that I did all that stuff I had THE BEST poop of my life. Wish I could afford to do it continously (minus the tea since I vaguely remember reading too much licorice is bad)

  7. I have been taking PPIs upon Doc recommendation for years. I have stopped them and was using h2 blockers. After looking at multiple sources I think all of those drugs have been creating low stomach acid. I generally follow a low carb whole food diet and IF (16:8 and 24). My stomach is always burning unless I eat. I think it’s low stomach acid so I have kicked the acid blockers. Started a regiment of hcl/pepsin, bone broth, dgl licorice, and fermented food. My stomach still burns. Could that be it getting used to more acid? Am I on the right track? I have no other symptoms but burning stomach. It’s very frustrating. Doc says I have a sensitive stomach. How can I be so sensitive to something my body makes. Any advice or support would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for the great article.

    1. I suffer from the same exact issues you describe. I find starting the morning with 32 0z of water with 3 drops of lemon essential oil and a quarter teaspoon of baking soda helps. I try to stay in a state of ketosis and eat low sodium also. I have hypertension so I run every other day and now do weight training. Try to not eat a huge meal ever. You will be best served by only using good mines salt. Sulfuraphane helps, so eat plenty of your cruciferous vegetables. Also add MSM to your water. It helps your soft tissue heal. It might be a good idea to have your doctor test you for Barrets esophagus or a hiatal hernia . Hope that helps.

  8. Wow! That was so helpful. Really apreciate it. I wonder if you can have both problems (leaky gut and SIBO) simultaneously. And in that case, could it be a nice solution to apply everything in the article excepting the probiotics?

  9. I chew each bite probably about 100 times, which is why it takes me FOREVER and a day to eat a meal. Seriously, it takes me at least an hour to eat a ginormous bowl (or pot) of steamed veggies or veggie soup or a big salad.

  10. I’ve been using Bulletproof Brain Octane MCT oil,it seems to ruin my gut,diarrhea,gas ,not eliminating regularly.Any steps to take to help with the problem or should I just avoid MCT’s

    1. I used to take that and it wreaked havoc on my gut too. It also caused me to get bad acne for some reason. I stopped taking it and my gut felt a lot better and my acne went away. I fixed the steady energy issue that MCT oil provided with cutting back on caffeine like coffee and cutting out simple carbs.

    2. William, this is not uncommon. Usually, the first recommendation for something like this would be to make sure you’re taking a high-quality MCT product. Bulletproof Brain Octane is about as good as it gets, so our next suggestion would be to try consuming MCT oil with some protein. The last thing you may want to try is simply reducing your intake of MCT. Try cutting your serving size in half. Hope this helps!

    3. I also use Brain Octane oil – in coffee , absorption is better with butter or ghee. Stir with a frother or in a blender at least 20sec to emulsify – this also improves absorption and decreases the effect of loose stools.

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