Like most years, 2021 was filled with a little bit of everything — ups and downs, progress and regression, and good and bad. I’m happy to say that throughout it all, we’ve had this awesome community — our allied HAPPY GUT® tribe — to help keep us grounded, happy, and healthy. Along the way, I hope you found our content inspiring, enlightening, sometimes funny, and definitely thought-provoking.
The holiday season is all about slowing down, getting quiet, and reflecting on the year behind us before we dive headfirst into the year ahead. That’s why this week, I thought we’d take a moment and talk about some of the highlights in this community from 2021.
And keep reading for a special offer at the end for our HAPPY GUT® allies.
Without further adieu — allow me to present this year’s HAPPY GUT® year in review:
The Biggest Breakthroughs in Gut Health
As a physician and gut health expert, you know I couldn’t look back at the past year without talking about the scientific studies that made all the difference when it comes to the science of gut health. Why? Because there were a few studies that really changed the way I think about healing the gut. For example:
1. Fermented Foods Are More Powerful Than Fiber
For years we thought that eating a high fiber diet was the best way to increase microbial diversity in the gut. But this year, in the form of a clinical study done by researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine, we found that actually, a high fermented foods diet may move the needle of our gut health more than a high fiber diet by improving microbial diversity and reducing inflammatory markers. The study challenged decades of thinking (Including my own!) that pushed mainly fiber as the secret to great gut health. Check out my HAPPY GUT®Blog post about this groundbreaking study here .
2. When it Comes to Covid Severity, Gut Health Matters
While it feels like the threat of Covid-19 ebbs and flows in terms of severity, it’s a situation we’ll be dealing with for a long time. That’s why a study published this year showing that a loss in gut bacterial diversity experienced as we age may contribute to why older people are at an increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease, is so important. The researchers especially looked at a loss of diversity that is normal with age and how that causes an increased risk in older adults. The good news is that the right foods can help restore diversity to the microbiome.
3. You Can Heal Leaky Gut By Way of the Vagus Nerve
I’ve been interested in traumatic brain injuries ever since I suffered my own when I was 19 years old. The last thing I remembered was riding my bike right after a rainstorm, and seeing some rocks on the pavement in front of me. Then next thing I knew I was in the emergency room with a very major headache. The science of TBIs has evolved quite a lot since then, but this year I wrote about the mysterious connection between TBIs and leaky gut , and how strengthening the vagus nerve — the longest nerve in our body and the bastion of our parasympathetic nervous system — may help heal both.
Most Shared & Saved Instagram Posts
1. 5 Things They Don’t Teach in Medical School
East versus West; conventional versus functional — these are topics I talk about every single day as a functional medicine physician and America’s Gut Doctor. I’m so glad all of you can see where conventional medicine sometimes is lacking, and why it’s important for us all to work to demand better education and care.
2. What to Do After Taking Antibiotics
As much as we try to take the alternative approach, sometimes we end up needing antibiotics, because of an acute infection. If you’ve taken antibiotics recently, don’t stress, because I’ve got your back. This post explains what you need to do to bounce back ASAP after antibiotics.
3. The Best Time to Take Probiotics and Digestive Enzymes
4. Should You Soak Beans, And for How Long?
Top Reels and TikToks
1. TikTok: How to Poop Every Day
Sometimes my patients are embarrassed to talk about their bowel movements, but the truth is that your poop is one of the best indicators of your overall health (not just your gut). If you suffer from chronic constipation and have trouble pooping every day, you probably already can guess that a daily bowel movement would improve your overall well-being greatly. You can see the original video here where I share my tops tips for pooping every day if you have trouble going for number two!
2. Don’t Normalize Chronic Bloat
While I’m a big fan of the body positivity movement and believe that optimal health can come in many shapes and sizes, I always raise an eyebrow when I see influencers talking about “normalizing the bloat.” Because while it’s normal to feel a little rounder in the afternoon and evening after a day of eating, it’s not normal to experience pain or discomfort, or to not be able to button your pants. You can see the original reel here .
3. 4 Signs Your Gut Needs a Tune Up
Many of us read about the importance of gut health almost daily, but what are the most common signs that your gut needs a little love and attention? At the end of the day, there’s no magic pill for gut health; instead, I encourage my patients to look for what’s causing the issue and WHY their body is responding this way, which mostly involves what’s on their plate.
You can see the original reel here .
4. When You Finally Balance Your Microbiome…
And your energy levels go through the roof, your skin starts to glow, and your bowel movements are like clockwork! It’s important to remember that microbiome health isn’t just about the gut, it’s about the whole body. This reel was the perfect example of why healing the gut has practically endless benefits. A good reminder for us all! I hope it brings a smile to your face. 🙂
5. The Hidden Cause of Insulin Resistance
When we talk about insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, most people assume that it has everything to do with the health of the pancreas. The pancreas is, after all, what releases insulin in the first place, right? Not so fast! Actually, another organ has just as much if not more influence over your body’s sensitivity to the hormone, insulin — and that organ is the gut, mainly influenced by the gut microbiome. Hear why in the original video here .
Most-Read Blog Posts
I publish weekly on the HAPPY GUT® Blog, so if you’re not already subscribed to my newsletter — click here to subscribe! Over the past year, these are the blog posts that resonated with you, my audience, the most:
1. Optimal Gut Superfoods Your Tummy Will Thank You For
There’s so much conflicting health and wellness advice out there, it’s hard to know what to eat. That’s why this blog, which includes my top five gut-healing superfoods, was so important to share. Eating sauerkraut, bone broth, and dark leafy greens like arugula are like getting on the express train to a happy tummy. Can you guess what’s on the list? You can read the full blog post here .
2. The Benefits of Resistant Starches + How to Get the Most Out of Them
If you’ve never heard of resistant starches, you’re not alone. And that’s probably why my blog about the benefits of resistance starches was so popular this year! You may have heard that starches are bad and should be avoided, but resistant starches are a different beast and something that can actually benefit gut health. Check out the full blog post here .
3. Free Yourself From IBS in Only 28 Days (Even If You’ve Been Told to Just Live with It)
If you have IBS — which could take the form of chronic bloating, stomach pain, diarrhea, or constipation (or all three!) — there’s a good change your doctor has told you that it’s something you should learn to live with. But let me say it out loud for the people in the back: You don’t have to adopt that attitude when it comes to IBS. Personally, I suffered from chronic gut health issues for years before I discovered functional medicine and created the HAPPY GUT® Blueprint for gut healing. In the full blog post here , I write in-depth about how to heal IBS once and for all.
Most Popular Health Tips
If you’re a frequent reader of my blog, you know there’s no shortage of health tips. That said, some really shine in their ability to change your health with little-to-no effort or expense on your part. Check out some of those tips here:
1. Digestive Enzymes for Chronic Bloat
You know that feeling — your pants start feeling too tight, and you find yourself loosening your belt buckle by one hole to make more room for your expanding belly. You may even think it’s just a part of getting older. It’s really horrible, which is why my blog post about The Boat-Busting Solution Your Doctor Never Told You About resonated with so many of you. I’ve been treating chronic bloat for years and there’s no better solution than a high-quality comprehensive digestive enzyme supplement that can easily break down fats, proteins and carbs, which is why I designed my own.
2. Finding a Probiotic That Actually Heals the Gut
This year we learned that when it comes to probiotic supplements, not all products are created equally. A great probiotic will survive the stomach acid to reach the intestines, have enough bacteria to actually have an influence on the gut, and contain a wide variety of strains with proven benefits . Check out my blog What You Might Not Know About Probiotics and REAL Gut Healing .
Highest Rated Products & Programs
1. The HAPPY GUT® REBOOT: 28-Day Cleanse Shake
I’m not surprised at all to find out this product is the highest rated, considering it’s the cornerstone of the HAPPY GUT ® REBOOT. Why? Because I spent months designing this cleanse shake to do exactly what others fail to do — make lasting changes to gut health that boost energy, jump start detox, and reverse chronic inflammation in the long term. This protein powder is formulated with vegan pea protein, which unlike other protein sources like whey and soy, isn’t a common food allergen. You can try it out for yourself, here .
2. The HAPPY GUT® REBOOT: 28-Day Restore Supplement
Probiotics and fermented foods are the foundation of great gut health, so it’s no shocker to find out that the HAPPY GUT ® Restore Probiotic is one of the top products here at HAPPY GUT ® . Restore is formulated with 100 Billion CFU shelf-stable, dairy-free probiotics to support GI health and help with antibiotic recovery. But don’t take my word for it, test it out for yourself.
3. The HAPPY GUT® Activate Plus Digestive Enzymes
Remember when we talked about digestive enzymes being the key to tackling chronic bloat? Well, the fact that they’re one of my highest rated products should further encourage you to try them out. Digestive enzymes take stress off the digestive system and not only help you decrease bloat, they help you actually absorb and utilize the nutrients in the food you eat. Here’s how to order them today .