Step 5: Rebalance-Why fixing your gut first will cure almost all of your other ailments
Updated: Jan 28
Last time I talked all about intestinal permeability and how to prevent and reverse this condition. Today we will tie everything together and focus on how to rebalance the gut through lifestyle and mindset modification.
Rebalance = Restorative
This last stage of gut healing is critical because it not only helps to prevent chronic disease, but it also reverses illness too. Unfortunately, this piece is often overlooked because it can be challenging to slow things down in today’s world. Our society places a lot of value on productivity, a full (sometimes overflowing) schedule, and staying up late/waking up early to fit it all in. I’m not recommending you to adopt a lackadaisical attitude, but it is important to check in with yourself daily and create space in your schedule to rest & reflect, even if it is only for a few minutes. The connection between the mind and body is real, and it is essential to respect your mental well-being when it comes to physical health.
If we are on overdrive all of the time, cortisol is being pumped out in large amounts. When cortisol is present in excess, our body tenses. Blood flow is shunted away from the digestive tract and reproductive organs, and those systems can begin to demonstrate dysfunction. If this continues, the adrenals will eventually tap out and they stop making enough cortisol altogether. This is called adrenal fatigue—which should be its own blog post for another day.
Examples of actions that promote restoration
-Getting enough sleep each night… seriously, this is crucial
-Positive thinking and affirmations*
-Take a few minutes lay down without any distractions or stimulation
-Improve food choices
-Assess heart rate variability
*One of my personal favorites is positive thinking. The thoughts that we think create the emotions that we feel. Our emotions provoke certain behaviors, which lead to consequences, both positive & negative. Can you see how positive thoughts can lead to positive consequences, and vice versa? I know I can. Our bodily processes are truly suboptimal when our inner monologue or even dialogue with others is pessimistic.
You are probably thinking, ‘this sounds great, but how do I put this into application?’
It is easy to say that we are going to do X everyday and avoiding eating Y, but how can you actually stick to that? I previously talked about neuronal plasticity, and how the brain can create new patterns of behavior with new neuronal pathways, no matter how old we are. When it comes to many repetitive tasks in life, we are often driving on autopilot. Many of us do not give much thought to our body mechanics, how we respond to stress, and how we interact with others…we default to what is comfortable, and what we have done habitually. In order to make a change, conscious thinking and deliberate actions are needed temporarily. Once the change has been carried out day after day, week after week, we transform. Our alterations will become the new autopilot, it just takes time and dedication up front to create that “muscle memory”.
Making the decision to change something is the first step. Next, you will need to set your goals.
Consider these components when thinking about goal setting:
Specific- state the desired outcome as explicitly as possible.
Measurable- Identify how you will track your progress.
Action-Oriented- Start with small, achievable goals. Build on this and set more difficult goals as you gain momentum.
Realistic- Only set a goal that is feasible to accomplish, and that you are willing to accomplish.
Timely- Set a deadline in which you want to meet your goal.
Lastly, be aware of the stages of change. Which one are you in?
Pre-contemplation- Not yet ready to change. High risk for failure in goal achievement if one is truly not ready.
Contemplation- Ready to change, but do not have a plan.
Preparation- Formulating a plan, setting goals in which and how they want to change.
Action- Carrying out a plan, and striving to achieve goals.
Maintenance- After goals are achieved, preventing relapse back into old habits.
Note that it is common for people to go forward and backwards on this continuum, and this is okay.
Other tips that may be helpful...
1. Write goals down.
2. Display goals in a place where you will see them daily: on the fridge, bathroom mirror, in your car, etc.
3. Purchase a physical calendar (or print one out) and physically cross days off when you are on the path to reaching your goal…. This works well for those of you who like to cross things off your to-do list.
4. If you are on the socials daily, find Instagram handles that are inspiring and up-lifting. There are many out there that post daily affirmations and uplifting quotes.
5. Give yourself grace if you have a set back. Learn from it and carry on, we are all human.
6. Surround yourself with people that elevate you, want the best for you, and inspire you.
7. Scheduling something for you on your google calendar or planner book.