3 Habits Hurting Your Gut Health That Aren’t Food

3 Habits Hurting Your Gut Health That Aren’t Food

I get it, when you're struggling with bloat, gas, constipation or acid reflux, often times our inclination is to focus on the food first.

While food is no doubt important, I like to remind you to remember the importance of the context of the human we are putting the food into. What I mean here is if you're living in a pool of sleep deprivation, emotional suppression, long work days and meal skipping...the food will only take you so far.

SO, these habits below are an important place to look first - so that the 'context' or the environment of the body we are putting the nourishing food into is optimized for digestion and absorption of those nutrients!

1. Rushing 

When we’re constantly rushing - especially in the morning, it puts our body into an immediate ‘fight or flight’ state where our nervous system can get stuck. In that state, we shut down digestion, absorption and motility (how we move things along to poop!). To make matters worse, if we’re rushing in the AM we may miss a prime time opportunity to support our body's natural detox systems and have a healthy poop. Oftentimes, a root cause of bloat is simply just constipation or lack of healthy daily bowel movements! Giving yourself a little extra time in order to help your body go into ‘rest and digest’ more often is paramount to helping with your bloat.

What To Do Instead: Prioritize Mindful Defecation

Yep, that’s right, you heard me, mindful pooping! What does this mean for you? First off, give yourself TIME to poop in the morning (maybe there’s a block in your cal, or maybe you simply give yourself 5 extra minutes when you get up in the morning to have bathroom time). It also means, keeping distractions out of the bathroom, no phones! Sit down to have your BM, take a few deep breaths and work on engaging your brain with the simple practice you are doing. Another pro - tip: get a squatty potty and use it daily - it helps put our body into the proper ergonomic position for healthy daily BMs.

2. Sucking in

Societal norms and the influence of social media have caused so many of us to have a distorted or troubled body relationship and literally teach our bodies to suck in or ‘pull it all in’. Not only physically by sucking in our low belly to appear smaller/skinnier but also emotionally teaching ourselves to hold in and suppress emotions. Holding it all in can be detrimental overtime to our pelvic floor health and in turn, our gut health. Often times, many of my female clients struggle with pelvic floor tightness due to wearing tight clothing for years, teaching themselves to ‘suck in’, holding stress and tension within the gut or experiencing any trauma to the pelvic floor area including surgeries, child birth, injuries or emotional/physical wounding. Oftentimes, my clients with chronic constipation and/or bloating have a pelvic floor component to be addressed.

What To Do Instead: Low Belly Conscious Relaxation

Become aware of your low belly throughout the day - walking/sitting in a chair/laying down at night. Do you hold it in, do you feel tension and tightness in that area. Simply just starting with becoming more aware and communicating relaxation to that area via the breath is step 1. More on my signature 'breath work for digestion' practice here. Consider working with a pelvic floor physical therapist or a visceral manipulation therapist trained through the Barrall institute if you suspect you are struggling with pelvic floor dysregulation on a deeper level that may be impacting your gut symptoms. For those looking for deeper trauma release work, I recommend working with an integrative psychotherapist trained in working with trauma and/or EFT/Tapping, EMDR or guided psychedelic therapy.

3. Sitting on a computer all day

Heavy blue light exposure is clearly on the rise as many of us work virtually coming out of covid and we are completely in the technology age! Why does this hinder our gut health? Lack of natural light exposure can impact our serotonin and melatonin production pathways - sheerly just getting outside during the day helps with serotonin production which supports the MMC - the cleansing wave of the gut known as the migrating motor complex. This helps us appropriately ‘move things along’ and supports healthy, daily bowel movements for healthy detox! In addition, getting light exposure during the day supports melatonin conversion at night. Think of melatonin as our body’s #1 recovery and repair hormone. Optimizing our natural production not only supports a healthy circadian rhythm (our body’c internal clock), it also is known to be anti-inflammatory and plays a role in GI secretions (like digestive secretions!), motility, and modulating the bacteria of the gut microbiome.

What You Can Do Instead: Take Nature Breaks!

Plan to get little amounts of light exposure in the AM and during the day, even on cloudy days. Set timers on your phone to take even short 5 minute breaks a few times during the day. Choose to set a blue light curfew nightly at least 1 hour before bed and dim the lights with the sunset outside. Research supports that we most optimally make melatonin when our LUX exposure in the evenings is 10 LUX or less (you can measure this with an app like Lightmeter to check!) 



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