In Chinese Medicine the gut is called the sea of 10,000 diseases. It’s a name that always struck me.

Many experts in the medical community agree— true health is all about the gut. Inflammation, allergies, chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, even fibromyalgia, anxiety and depression (read more in my upcoming blog) can be traced back to poor gut health. And since 70% of the body’s immune system is in the gut, all immune issues can too, be traced back to digestion.

In order to get the root of our health problems and prevent future ones, it’s worthwhile to take a close look at our digestion. Occasional digestive distress is normal- like when you’re traveling, eating foods you’re not used to, or you overindulged in a huge meal. But digestive symptoms that come regularly are a sign your gut needs some loving care.

Here are some natural healing tips to ease digestive symptoms and improve your gut function:

Take the time to eat slowly and calmly

Food is your nourishment. Other than the air that you breathe, it’s how your body makes qi, aka life force or energy. On a physiological level, food is how you intake the vitamins, nutrients and minerals that make all of your bodies systems work efficiently. Eating is that important! How often do we eat on the go or during a stressful conversation? If you aren’t taking the time to nourish yourself properly then ask yourself why not? Maybe it’s time to rearrange priorities. Eating the right foods in small meals throughout the day, peacefully, is one of the most important things you can do for your health.

Eat bone broth

This time-tested remedy is healing for nearly all digestive issues from mild to severe. Bone broth contains a multitude of highly absorbable minerals and nutrients that act like superman for your gut. A few of the key players are glutamine, an amino acid that heals the lining of the digestive tract, and glycine, an amino acid that stimulates healthy stomach acid (think acid reflux). And it’s so easy to make! Drink ½ cup twice daily for therapeutic benefits.

Take Probiotics & Digestive Enzymes

Your gut is quite literally an ocean of bacteria. Probiotics are the ‘good’ beneficial bacteria in your gut that balance out the ‘bad’ harmful bacteria, and help protect your immune system by preventing dysbiosis (a condition where the bad bacteria overtake the good). Think of probiotics as insurance for your immune system. Not only will they help you immediately but as you build them up over time, they will be there when you need them most (for example when everyone around you is getting sick). Take probiotics daily and add non -dairy probiotic rich foods to your diet.

Digestive enzymes help your digestive tract break down food into smaller parts that can be more easily absorbed, transported and used by your cells. Enzymes are built in to most of the foods we consume (especially raw foods), though they get destroyed when heated above 116 degrees F. In addition to heat, enzymes can be destroyed with stress or due to shifts in pH balance. Many of us are enzyme deficient which can play a key role in digestive symptoms. As with all supplements, quality is the name of the game. Consult with your natural healthcare provider about which brands are best.

Practice Deep Breathing or Meditation

Deep breathing and meditation regulate the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS)- the part of your nervous system in charge of rest and relaxation. Guess what one of the functions of the PNS is? Yup you guessed it- digestion. If you’re stressed, your PNS won’t be activated, and digestion will not occur properly. The solution: Practice deep breathing or meditation at least 10 minutes a day.

Connect to your belly

This might sound kind of funny, and if it does that’s totally okay. I encourage you to try it anyways. When I first tried connecting to my belly was shocked at how much tension was holding there. I was also happy to see how easy it was to breathe into it and release that tension just as easily. Check in with your belly on a regular basis. What does it feel like physically? Energetically? Emotionally? Do some gentle massage or just tune into it with your attention. Breathe into your belly. Can you let go of any stress that’s holding there? Give it a shot.

Get tested for food allergies and sensitivities

Food sensitivities are extremely common. There may be a food in your diet that your body is constantly reacting to, and is the culprit for you digestive blues. Examples include wheat, gluten, sugar, dairy, corn, and soy. Work with your acupuncturist to do an elimination diet, or take the next step and get tested. There’s no better way to see how your diet is affecting your gut health.