Food as Medicine, Gut health

POTS and Gut Health: 15 habits that may help

Growing evidence suggests that autoimmune conditions can stem from poor gut health AND that many cases of POTS/dysautonomia are autoimmune. Even people without without autoimmune problems should prioritize gut health because growing evidence links it to numerous aspects of health, both physical and mental.gutmicrobes

So here’s a handy list of 15 ways to promote better gut health:

  • avoid excess sugar and processed foods, which feed “bad” bacteria
  • avoid artificial sweeteners, which alter the gut microbiome (this is why diet soda doesn’t help people lose weight)
  • avoid wheat, which increases intestinal permeability (contributing to “leaky gut”)
  • avoid excess alcohol, which feeds “bad” microbes
  • eat plenty of colorful plant foods, especially veggies, which feed “good” microbes
  • avoid unnecessary chemicals that may alter microbes, including unnecessary antibiotics, antimicrobial soaps and mouthwash, preservatives and all others
  • eat fermented foods (e.g., Kim chi, sauerkraut, etc.) for the beneficial bacteria
  • get adequate vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids
  • get regular exercise
  • manage stress
  • get enough sleep (I know, I know…)
  • a probiotic supplement may help
  • chew food thoroughly so that the gut doesn’t need to manage undigested chunks
  • eat organic or non-GMO when possible, to avoid the herbicide glyphosate, which some credible experts (MIT scientists) believe may damage gut health
  • take a digestion break (i.e., don’t eat for several extra hours) so that the gut’s cleaning wave can do some intestinal housekeeping

The research keeps pouring in, suggesting that Americans have severely underestimated the importance of gut health in the past, especially for people living with chronic inflammation, autoimmune disorders, mental health issues or neurological problems. So it’s time to re-evaluate our diets from our guts’ point of view, and maybe to learn to love sauerkraut (…I’m struggling with that one!).

My favorite resources for autoimmune diets:

  1. The Wahls Protocol by Dr. Terry Wahls:  A very detailed diet plan with explanations of why we need to eat so very clean
  2. The Autoimmune Fix by Dr. Tom O’Bryan:  Not a very detailed diet plan, but great explanations about how and why gut health matters so much, with general recommendations
  3. Paleomom.com:  Don’t let the name fool you.  The author is a hard core scientist who offers great explanations, recipes and resources

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