6 Steps to Better Gut Health

When you’re thinking about losing weight and getting healthy, you’re likely not thinking of the millions of microbes in your colon…

…but as it turns out, poor gut health can be the exact reason why you’re not seeing results from your hard efforts in the kitchen and the gym.

The balance of good and bad bacteria in the digestive tract plays a huge role in our overall health. We are finally starting to understand how important those bacteria inside our gut actually are (or how detrimental they can be if unbalanced…)

All disease begins in the gut, and the bad bacteria in your gut can dictate to your brain what they need to be fed to survive, can you guess what it is?…


The bad bacteria in our gut thrive off of sugar in order to survive, creating an imbalance with the good bacteria. Overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria makes us crave the wrong foods and triggers inflammation.

Poor gut health can lead to chronic disease, weight gain, abdominal pain and bloating, gas, diarrhea/constipation, rashes, migraines, joint pain, nasal congestion, and chronic fatigue (and that’s just to name a few)

Other than being extremely uncomfortable, many of these symptoms can also be embarrassing and frustrating – and we don’t link many of these symptoms to our digestive tract.

Poor gut health is caused by overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria as well as inflammation and other external factors that compromise the integrity of the intestinal lining. These external factors include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Food intolerances
  • Medications
  • Antibiotics
  • Stress

Eventually this can lead to a damaged intestinal lining and something called “leaky gut”. It creates gaps between the follicles in your intestinal lining that are supposed to provide protection, and harmful things like toxins, undigested food particles, yeast, and bacteria get into the bloodstream. Your body recognizes this as a threat, and starts attacking them and creating even MORE inflammation – creating a vicious cycle.

70% of our immune system lies in the digestive tract, and 95% of our serotonin is actually produced in the small intestine, not the brain. So when you think about the mind-body connection, there is a HUGE connection between our gut health and our moods during the day.

The bottom line is that without proper gut health, creating and maintaining any sort of weight loss is extremely difficult.

So what can you do to start improving your gut health and balancing out those good and bad bacteria? Here are 6 things you can do right now!

1. Fermented Foods

eating fermented foods for gut health

Consuming fermented foods is one way that you can start balancing out the good and bad bacteria in your digestive tract. They contain probiotics that help support gut health and slowly rebalance the gut flora (good and bad bacteria). They can help increase antibodies and strengthen the immune system, regulate appetite, reduce sugar cravings. and treat candida in the gut.

Here are 6 fermented foods that you can try now (start with one and slowly work your way up to more):

  • Kombucha (look for one with no sugar added, GTS is a good brand, avoid brands fermented with black tea)
  • Pickles (look for a manufacturer that uses organic ingredients)
  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso (made from brown rice if you are avoiding gluten)
  • Yogurt (look for organic, goat or sheep milk, and grass-fed)
  • Kefir

2. Ginger shots

I take a ginger shot every morning before I do anything else, it’s a healthy and refreshing way to start the day and the health benefits are numerous.

The ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, can help with the fat burning process, and aids in digestion and proper gut health. The lemon contains vitamin C to support the immune system and is actually an alkaline food (most people assume it is acidic). I also add a bit of turmeric to mine, which has anti-inflammatory properties as well as antioxidants that can help to fight against cancer.

Check out the recipe below to make your own ginger shots!


homemade ginger shots

  • juice of 5-6 large lemons
  • 2-4″ ginger root, depending on how strong you want to make it
  • 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 1/2 tsp dry turmeric (can also use fresh)

Blend together in blender or food processor and store in the fridge for up to 7 days. I pour mine into a shot glass every morning and take it that way.

3. Take a good quality probiotic

Probiotics are a type of bacteria that aid in digestion and restoring gut flora to proper balance. Taking a good quality probiotic every day can help to stimulate the growth of good bacteria and help you start to feel better. This Healthy Origins Probiotic is the one I recommend to ALL of my clients. It’s top quality and has 30 BILLION CFU’s.

4. Include L-glutamine in your regimen

L-glutamine is the one amino acid that makes up the mucosal lining of the digestive tract. Supplementing a healthy diet with a therapeutic dose of L-glutamine can help regenerate the mucosal cells in the digestive track to improve absorption of nutrients and reduce stress response associated with digestive irritants. Try mixing 1 scoop (1 tsp) with water 3 times a day (3 scoops=15 grams). It is a colorless, tasteless powder. Click here to see the one I personally use and recommend!

5. Remove the processed sugars from your diet

The bad bacteria in the digestive tract feed off of sugar in order to thrive and grow exponentially. If you are voluntarily feeding it the sugar they crave, you are creating a vicious cycle of sugar cravings, bacteria overgrowth, inflammation, and possibly weight gain and major health issues.

Cut out the processed sugars from food items like ice cream, candy, soda, coffee drinks, etc. Sugar hides in everything, so be really careful when you read food labels. Even something labeled as “sugar free” can still contain hidden sugars, and artificial sweeteners still contribute to poor gut health.

Look for words like maltodextrin, anything “syrup”, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, sucralose, tagatose, acesulfame K, sugar alcohol, agave nectar, etc. The bottom line is sugar is sugar, regardless of the alias it hides behind, and they all contribute to poor gut health!

6. Get tested for food intolerances

Food intolerance occurs when our bodies cannot properly digest and convert the foods we eat into the necessary nutrients that fuel our systems.

More simply, food intolerance occurs when you eat something but it fails to be properly broken down in the intestines. The main reason for this failure is due to a lack of digestive enzymes – it’s their job to break down food molecules so that they can be properly absorbed into the bloodstream.

When the body doesn’t produce enough (or any) of an enzyme that a food requires for proper digestion, the proteins cannot convert into amino acids or nutrients, and will start accumulating in the gut and eventually make their way into the bloodstream improperly.

The immune system identifies these partially digested proteins as foreign intruders and attacks them. This attack triggers inflammation in the gut – the immune system’s natural response to injuries and other harmful things that enter the body.

Just like when you have the flu, which also causes inflammation, the body’s fight against the imperfectly digested food will cause many negative symptoms including fatigue, migraine & headaches, eczema, bloating, gas, congestion, weight gain, brain fog, joint ache, acid reflux, food cravings, diarrhea, skin rash and more.

Differently from the flu, however, these food intolerance related symptoms can sometimes persist over a lifetime if neglected.

One of the more common side-effects of food intolerance is weight gain. This is mainly due to depleted levels of serotonin, the powerful chemical responsible for maintaining mood balance, social behavior, libido, memory, and digestive health. More importantly, though, serotonin also acts as the natural appetite suppressant in our bodies, making us feel satisfied even when our stomachs are not full.

When fighting a food intolerance, serotonin production (95% of which originates from the cells in our intestines) decreases dramatically, leading us to intense carb and sugar cravings.

This process sends our bodies into a vicious cycle of mood swings, depression, and unwanted cravings, all stemming from the body’s fight against food intolerance.

PinnerTest is a next generation blood test that utilizes microarray technology to identify a client’s individual food intolerances.

By using microarray analysis of IgG measurements, PinnerTest lab can thoroughly measure the IgG antibody levels against the proteins of 200 different foods. This progressive technique works to identify the foods that respond negatively with your system–all with just a few drops of blood dispensed by a basic finger prick.

The PinnerTest is extremely affordable and delivers fast and easy results. To find out how you can get yours today or for more information, email us at support@nutritionvixen.com.


**one or more links on this page may contain affiliate links, please see my Affiliate Disclosure for more details.

By |2018-09-07T17:27:23-08:00August 10th, 2017|12 Comments


  1. Mariette Chapman September 5, 2018 at 7:52 pm

    Great article! It is so important to have a healthy gut! I like your Ginger shot recipe! Will give it a try. Ginger has so many health benefits as well.

  2. Joshua September 5, 2018 at 7:52 pm

    Wow, thank you so much for this amazing healthy living article!
    So much health and nutrition advice, details, descriptions and solutions!

    Since I’m a certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist and have done so much research in my personal time and have had a lot of personal experience; this just reminded me of a few things I completely forgot!
    Nobody’s perfect and we always forget more than we learn haha! Sucks but oh well!

    Thank you so much again for this share! This is such an amazingly informative article and a very helpful piece of advice!

    I look forward to more quality content in the future! 🙂

  3. Heather Deranja September 5, 2018 at 8:16 pm

    I’m glad you found it helpful Joshua! And yes, we ALL have so much to learn (nobody knows everything…), and most importantly, we learn best from each other. Thanks for reading 🙂

  4. Heather Deranja September 5, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    Hi Mariette – please do give it a try and let me know how you like it! The benefits of ginger are almost too many to name. I like to take my shot first thing in the morning to give me that little “kick”…try that out!

  5. Vicki September 5, 2018 at 8:30 pm

    Great article and I love Ginger and Tumeric – use it daily
    Great read

  6. jamaar September 5, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    Was just talking about how what you eat and put in your body will always show on the outside and affect your appearance this is great .

  7. Marvin September 6, 2018 at 12:47 am

    Hi Heather, Great read. Gut health is often overlooked when it comes to overall health. I used to always get indigestion and heart burn, doctors couldn’t help me and kept putting me on medications. I personally introduced Probiotics and Prebiotics into my diet, as well as fermented foods and yogurt. Pretty much overnight all my issues disappeared

  8. Michelle September 6, 2018 at 2:05 am

    Hello Heather,
    Great article. I never would have thought fermented foods would help your ‘gut’…but then again, this is why we need information to be educated. Thanks so much for sharing. You have a great list of suggestions and tips and I will most definitely heed them. I want to be healthy and yes, it has to start with me – my nutritional intake.
    Keep up the great job!

  9. Heather Deranja September 6, 2018 at 5:53 am

    Exactly Jamaar! They don’t say “you are what you eat” for nothing lol!

  10. Heather Deranja September 6, 2018 at 5:55 am

    Thanks for sharing Marvin, because this is such a common problem. We often don’t realize why we feel sick, bloated, tired and have many other symptoms…we never look to gut health and think “that must be it”. I want to spread awareness about this so people know how important gut health is to overall health. Glad you took action and are feeling better!

  11. Heather Deranja September 6, 2018 at 5:58 am

    Thank you Michelle! It’s important to keep educated and keep up with what’s current in nutrition and health. The amount of information can be overwhelming and conflicting, leaving consumers totally confused and overwhelmed, which is why I’m here to help educate and provide accurate info! Definitely try incorporating some fermented foods into your diet! Which one are you going to try first?!

  12. Crystal Lim September 6, 2018 at 10:43 pm

    My dad has a huge interest in making all sorts of fruit enzymic drinks and that’s true – those fermented drinks are good for your health, no matter you are trying to lose weight or trying to improve your gut health.

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