The ins and outs of improving your gut health

If you struggle with your gut health, Nurse Practitioner Julia Davey shares her best tips and tricks for consumers to stay on top of their wellness - ConsumerAffairs

The gut affects several other critical processes in the body

Many consumers struggle with maintaining good gut health, dealing with some kind of digestive issue on a daily basis. 

With countless sources sharing the latest and greatest thing to cure your gut health woes, it can be difficult to know what sources are trustworthy, what options will work, and where to even start the search. 

ConsumerAffairs sat down with Julie Ann Davey, a nurse practitioner who specializes in functional medicine and gut health, to share the ins and outs of improving your gut health. 

Beyond the gut

Maintaining optimal gut health is important because it goes beyond your stomach. Davey explained that our gut health can affect just about every other bodily system – our immune systems, hormone levels, nervous systems, etc. 

“A healthy gut means that the balance of bacteria is good, the gut lining is strong, the immune system is strong, and digestion of food and nutrients are optimal,” Davey said. “A healthy gut also communicates with the brain through nerves and hormones, which helps maintain general health and well-being. 

“There is no disease or condition that does not originate in the gut at a core and foundational level. We cannot achieve our highest state of wellness without a good, strong gut.” 

Gut health concerns

Because our gut health is interconnected with the rest of our bodies, there are several risks to keep in mind when you find yourself with any kind of gut issues. Davey broke down these concerns into several different categories: 

  • Digestive disorders: irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease 

  • Microbiome imbalance: 

    • Dysbiosis: An imbalance in the gut microbiota

    • SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth): An abnormal increase in the overall bacterial population in the small intestine.

  • Food sensitivities: lactose intolerance, gluten sensitivity, celiac disease 

  • Leaky gut: A condition where the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged, causing undigested food particles, toxins, and bacteria to leak into the bloodstream

All of these issues can lead to further issues that may not seem gut-related, including: skin conditions like acne and rosacea, chronic fatigue, mental health issues, nutrient malabsorption, and more. 

Do’s and Don’ts for better gut health 

Davey has compiled lists of things to avoid and things to do to improve gut health for consumers who may be struggling. 


  • Highly processed foods

  • Excessive sugars and sweeteners 

  • Artificial additives

  • Low-fiber diets

  • Excessive alcohol consumption

  • Antibiotics (when possible) 

  • Stress

  • Smoking

  • Lack of sleep 

  • Excessive caffeine

  • Dehydration 

To improve gut health: 

  • Deep breathing: This activates the parasympathetic nervous system which helps digest your food. 

  • Eat in a relaxing environment: When we are in a relaxed state, it allows the production of adequate digestive enzymes and activates our parasympathetic nervous system.

  • Chew properly: You should chew each bite 30-40 times. Make it a habit to put your fork down between each bite so that you are forced to slow down and chew each bite thoroughly.

  • Avoid drinking water with meals: This can dilute stomach acid and digestive enzymes, making it more difficult for your body to digest food.

  • Avoid chewing gum: When you chew gum, you end up swallowing more air, which can cause bloating. Also, sugar-free chewing gum contains sweeteners such as xylitol and sorbitol, which can ferment in the gut, causing the release of gas and potential bloating.

  • Take a walk: This stimulates digestion. 

  • Apple cider vinegar, lemon water, peppermint tea, ginger, and arugula are all foods and drinks that stimulate digestion. 

“Be a student of your body. Pay attention,” Davey said. “Signs and symptoms are our body's way of crying out for help. 

“Don’t normalize the abnormal. Most people don’t know just how great they could feel. Partner with a provider that you feel comfortable with and confident in that will walk you through the process and be there to answer questions.” 

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