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7 Ways to Reduce Gut Inflammation

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Gut bacteria are an increasingly hot topic in nutritional science and even psychiatry. Chances are, you probably already know that gut inflammation — and chronic inflammation in general — can lead to some pretty nasty symptoms.

Just look at the list of chronic and autoimmune diseases linked to gut inflammation:

The fact of the matter is a healthy gut breeds a healthy body and mind — and vice versa. So how do we keep those little intestinal microbes happy? The good news: much of it comes down to lifestyle. Keep reading to find out more.

What triggers inflammation in the gut? Gut inflammation can be caused by certain foods, medications, and even lifestyle factors like stress. Gut dysbiosis — an imbalance in the gut microbiome — can be a major contributor to inflammation as well.

1. Eat These Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Did you know that certain foods have anti-inflammatory effects? In fact, some foods may be more effective at reducing inflammation than NSAIDs.

What are some foods that fight inflammation? Foods that fight inflammation include probiotic foods, foods that are high in antioxidants, and certain spices and healthy fats.

Adopting an anti-inflammatory diet has even more benefits. Many anti-inflammatory foods also promote healthy brain function and even weight maintenance. Here are some of the best foods for fighting inflammation and staying healthy:


Probiotic foods contain good bacteria that help you maintain a healthy gut microbiome. These bacteria are often cultivated through fermentation. They help fight off bad bacteria and keep your digestive system functioning properly. While there are plenty of probiotic supplements available, you can get the same benefits from fermented foods like:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Kefir
  • Kombucha
  • Low-sugar yogurt
  • Fermented soybeans (called natto)


Antioxidants are a group of chemicals that prevent or slow down the oxidation of other molecules in the body. They can help reduce inflammation in your gut by neutralizing free radicals that damage healthy tissue. 

As a bonus, antioxidants promote cognitive function by reducing oxidative stress in the brain. Antioxidants occur naturally in a number of foods, including:

  • Dark chocolate
  • Green tea
  • Artichoke
  • Nuts and seeds (e.g. pecans, almonds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and chia seeds)
  • Dark berries (e.g. strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and goji berries)
  • Green leafy vegetables (e.g. kale, collard greens, and dandelion greens)
  • Cruciferous vegetables (e.g. broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts)

Healthy Fats

Dietary fat has gotten a bad rep in the past. But the truth is fats provide a number of functions necessary for maintaining optimal health. The key is choosing the right fats. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids can benefit your brain and body and reduce inflammation. Here are some to look for:

  • Coconut oil
  • Avocados and avocado oil
  • Olives and olive oil
  • Nuts and seeds (including walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, flax seeds, sesame seeds, and chia seeds)
  • Nut and seed oils (as above)
  • Fatty fish (including salmon, herring, sardines, and mackerel)


Did you know that certain spices can help reduce inflammation? That’s right; there’s a reason so many cultures rely on herbal remedies. Some spices even come with the added bonus of antioxidant properties. You can add some of the following to your meals, teas, or even your smoothies for an anti-inflammatory boost:

  • Turmeric: This spice has been used for centuries in traditional Indian foods and medicine. It can help reduce inflammation as well as fight cancer and heart disease.
  • Ginger: This root is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also a great source of vitamin C and fiber, so it’s good for your digestive health too!
  • Cinnamon: Another spice with multiple benefits. Not only does cinnamon fight inflammation, it can also help reduce blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity which can lower your risk of developing diabetes.

2. Avoid Inflammatory Foods

Just like there are anti-inflammatory foods, there are also pro-inflammatory foods. Cutting certain inflammatory foods can be a great starting place to reduce gut inflammation. You probably already know some of the common culprits to look out for:

Added Sugars & Processed Carbohydrates

Research links added sugars and refined carbs with a variety of serious diseases and health issues. Perhaps it should be no surprise that studies also show a connection between processed carbohydrates and inflammation. 

Artificial Trans Fats

Refined fats are another common offender linked to a variety of health problems. Research links artificial trans fats to inflammation and increased risk of multiple diseases. Thankfully these fats have been banned in the US since 2018.

Excess Alcohol

If you’re accustomed to taking advantage of happy hour, you’re likely doing your body more harm than good. Excess alcohol can contribute to a number of health risks. In fact, as one study concludes:

“Alcohol and its metabolites promote intestinal inflammation through multiple pathways. That inflammatory response, in turn, exacerbates alcohol-induced organ damage, creating a vicious cycle and leading to additional deleterious effects of alcohol both locally and systemically.”


Many people benefit from a low-FODMAP diet. “FODMAP” stands for “fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.” These are short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that can cause intestinal distress such as bloating, cramping, gas/flatulence, diarrhea and constipation. They provide fuel for gut bacteria, but the breakdown can cause issues in people with sensitivity.

FODMAPs can be found in many common foods, and generally include:

  • Lactose (found in dairy products)
  • Galactans (found in soy products, beans, and legumes)
  • Fructose and polyols (found in fruits, vegetables, sugars, and sugar substitutes)

Another potential food sensitivity to consider is gluten. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with celiac disease, it’s possible to have a gluten sensitivity. People with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity are prone to inflammatory responses when eating foods that contain gluten. 

It’s important to take time to learn your body’s sensitivities. Take note of how you feel after eating various foods to determine if you can find a correlation between a particular food and an adverse reaction your body may be having to that food. The best way to test this is through an elimination diet where you eliminate a food you suspect is causing you issues for a few weeks, then reintroduce it back in — paying close attention to any possible reactions you may have.

3. Check Out Anti-Inflammatory Supplements

Anti-inflammatory supplements can give you an extra boost to help round out your dietary and lifestyle adjustments. Many of these supplements come from the same foods and spices listed above. Here are some to consider:

  • Arabinogalactans: Increase beneficial bacteria in the gut.
  • Butyrate: Increases the integrity of the intestinal lining and encourages obligate anaerobic bacterial growth in the gut.
  • Colostrum/IgG: Increases GI tract immunity. Used to prevent and treat IBD.
  • Curcumin: Improves intestinal lining. May also help with pain management by reducing inflammation.
  • Ginger Supplements: Provide its health benefits without having to worry about taste or texture.
  • Glutamine: Promotes balancef microbial flora, improves intestinal lining, and helps to minimize inflammatory responses.
  • Fish oil: One of the most popular ways to get a dose of essential omega-3 fatty acids and their various benefits. 
  • Resveratrol: Decreases inflammatory cytokines in the small intestine and has numerous anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
  • Slippery elm/aloe: Stimulates mucous secretion, provides antioxidants to relief bowel inflammation, and sooths the GI tract.

4. Pace Yourself at Mealtimes

Overeating can lead to weight gain and obesity, which can impact inflammation. Pacing yourself at mealtimes can help you recognize when you’ve had enough and prevent overeating. Slowing down your meal can also help mediate the blood glucose response and prevent blood sugar spikes.

Severe blood sugar spikes over time can lead to hyperglycemia. You probably associate hyperglycemia with diabetes, but you may not know it increases intestinal permeability, which can lead to leaky gut.

Another thing to keep in mind while eating is the order in which you consume your foods. Start with your fibrous vegetables, then move to proteins, and finish with carbohydrates. Healthy fats can be dispersed throughout your meal. This can further manage your blood glucose response

5. Practice Good Dental Hygiene 

Did you know that your mouth is actually the beginning of your digestive tract? It’s where your body begins the process of digestion. But the connection extends even further. As it turns out, the microorganisms in your mouth contribute to more than just your oral health.

Oral bacteria can impact the bacteria in the gut. It makes sense — you swallow those microbes every time you eat. If your dental hygiene is poor, you could cultivate harmful bacteria that cause dysbiosis and gut inflammation.

To help prevent this, be sure to:

  • Brush your teeth for 2 minutes at least twice daily
  • Floss
  • Use a tongue scraper
  • Avoid mouthwash with alcohol
  • Drink plenty of water after eating acidic foods

6. Avoid Stress

Stressful situations are bound to occur. In fact, our bodies are primed with an acute stress response to help us navigate stressful circumstances. Short-term stress can benefit our immune response. Chronic stress, however, contributes to inflammation in the gut. In fact, up to 90% of people treated for IBS also seek treatment for stress or depression.

Here’s how it works. Stress impacts how your brain interacts with your enteric nervous system (the brain in your gut). This should come as no surprise — most of us have had tummy troubles before an important event. Chronic stress pushes your ENS to its limits, and can lead to gastrointestinal disorders.

If there’s something in your life causing you consistent stress, it might be time to implement some lifestyle changes.

7. Move Your Body

Regular physical activity has benefits beyond weight loss or weight maintenance. The relationship between exercise and gut health may seem indirect, but it’s worth a look. 

Research shows that exercise can reduce inflammation. It has also proven to relieve stress, which we now know impacts the ENS. Aerobic exercise can promote bowel movements when you’re constipated. 

Studies have even shown that women with active lifestyles have stronger gut microbiomes. This could have to do with body fat percentage or overall health. Because exercise encourages other healthy habits like eating and sleeping well, it’s hard to pinpoint which factor is most responsible But if adding some physical activity starts a domino effect of better choices, we can go ahead and say it’s beneficial.

Signs of Gut Inflammation

Gut inflammation can cause health issues that extend beyond the digestive tract. Even if you haven’t noticed any bowel problems, there could be other signs that you’re affected by inflammation or dysbiosis.

What are the signs of gut inflammation? Many symptoms can be linked to gut inflammation, including:

Getting Your Gut In Order

If you want to improve your overall health, getting your gut in order is a great place to start. Speaking to a nutritionist or informed healthcare provider can help you better understand the intricacies of gut health and how it impacts your daily life. 

At Sano Health, we take a unique, personalized approach that combines holistic and traditional health practices. To learn more about our practice or membership options, book a discovery call with one of our trained Care Team members. And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for more health tips.


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