Earlier this year, I was gearing up for what I thought would be an epic, hot girl summer (despite high levels of stress from work and everything that comes with re-emerging from a pandemic) when I ended up in the hospital at 3 a.m. for severe stomach pain. It turned out I was experiencing acid reflux, which is when the acid from the stomach bubbles up into the esophagus, causing a painful burning behind the breastbone. How's that for hot?
I had been ignoring the warning signs — literally not listening to my gut — when I could’ve been taking precautions the same way I religiously follow my skin-care routine.
With that, I rounded up the following tips I learned to help my improve my gut health — and yours! I spoke with Dr. Megan Rossi, founder of The Gut Health Clinic in London and author of Love Your Gut, for easy ways to improve gut health and, ultimately, understand the gut’s direct impact on overall well-being.
Keep A Diverse Diet
While eating probiotic-packed food is a no-brainer for gut health, Dr. Rossi says eating a variety of foods is more effective than chowing down on the same veggie dish night after night. “If you’re only eating broccoli, you aren’t receiving a wide variety of digestive proteins,” she says. “The more diversity of the plants you’re eating, the more you’re helping your gut microbiota, which you want to keep happy.”
When you change up the types of vegetables you eat, you also get the added benefit of expanding your taste buds, which play an important role in nutrient absorption. For example, Dr. Rossi starts her day by eating fermented food like yogurt and overnight oats, but changes up her toppings — mixed seeds and nuts — depending on her mood.
Chew Your Food Well — Really Well
How many times do you chew each bite of food? Dr. Rossi says you should be aiming for 20 to 30 chews per bite. “We have enzymes in our saliva to break down the food, so you need to give it time to do its job,” she says.