How I Dramatically Improved My Gut Health

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My tummy hurt all the time, my hair was falling out, my nails were cracking, I had limited energy and I couldn’t sleep through the night.  My gut health was atrocious. Obviously, something had to change!  Then I finally found a way to improve and restore my gut health.

I have shared about my health journey before (see my post here).  It was a long and arduous process, not to mention painful, exhausting, frustrating, discouraging, hope-eating and despair-inducing.

And I know I actually had it easy compared to others, so I definitely count my blessings.  But being on the recipient side of things, I just have to say it pretty much stinks having your gut health, or general health, compromised in any way.

(I am only speaking from my experience here.  I am not a medical professional and am not giving medical advice.  If you have any health condition or questions, please consult your doctor. The following content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.)

But there is hope!

You always hear about having chicken soup being good for you when you are sick or have a cold, right?  Granted, they are talking about homemade chicken soup made with bone broth, not really the canned stuff (even though it is quick and easy and feels good on a sore throat too).

And the bonus to all this?  It also helps to heal the gut.

To make bone broth, you are doing exactly what it sounds like: making your broth using the chicken/beef/etc. bones.  And what makes bone broth special?  It has all kinds of super good vitamins, minerals, and gelatin that gets broken down and goes into the broth.   There is a great rich flavor that comes with making your own bone broth with good for you spices and a long cook time. So much better than a store-bought broth with all kinds of additives.  (Have you looked at the label for your favorite broth? Does it include sugar? A lot do! Crazy, right?)

That is one of the things that I did when I started on my health journey.  I cooked lots of chickens and made lots of broth.  It was a very long process.  And I had that wonderful, healing broth 3 times a day.

But the problem was that I had that wonderful, healthy broth 3 times a day… and it was very difficult to keep up with.  Since my stomach couldn’t tolerate anything else, my homemade chicken soup was my only food option. I remember the panic I felt when I started to run low because it meant that I wouldn’t be able to eat again until I made more.  That could be hours away.

I know a lot of people make their bone broth using a crock pot and just set it to low and cook it overnight.  Unfortunately for me, I really didn’t like the taste of that.  So I cooked my broth on the stove. For hours. Just about every other day.

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And as a busy mom of 3 kids, you can probably understand that I couldn’t exactly sit around the house for hours every time I needed to cook.  There were groceries to buy, doctor appointments to go to, kids to pick up, and parks to go to in order to tire out said kids.

Needless to say, I didn’t need to add the fear of burning my house down due to an unattended pot simmering on the stove to my never-ceasing anxiety over having enough food around. (I tended to have to eat a very brothy soup, so didn’t have a whole lot of calories in me.  Anxiety over my next meal was a real thing.  So was being hangry way too often.)

I got an Instant Pot that Christmas.  I really feel like it saved my life, the lives of everyone around me (remember, I was very hangry!), and my house’s life.  I was able to cook my chicken and make my broth in half the time that I used to do on the stove.  And it was electric, so it acted like my slow cooker in that once it was done cooking, it just switched to the “Keep Warm” mode. No fire danger! It was a miracle from heaven.  I cried actual tears of joy.

And the bonus was that my broth tasted just like it did when I cooked it on the stove.  Super yummy!

But even with the Instant Pot, I couldn’t wait around forever cooking my bone broth to get the most of the benefits.  So my nutritionist recommended a shortcut to increase the collagen and gelatin you get from bone broth.  She recommended that I add powdered collagen or gelatin to my soup.

Yes, gelatin is the same sort of thing you can make jello out of, but it isn’t the kind of gelatin you find on a grocery store shelf.  This stuff is much higher quality.  And it comes in a couple varieties: one that thickens (gelatin) and one that doesn’t (collagen).

They are both really good for you and healing for your gut.  I prefer the orange packaging since it allows me to use it a variety of ways (I actually made my own jello with it while I was doing that oh-so-wonderful “cleanse” prior to my GI procedures.).  You can add it to help thicken a sauce, make jello, or add to a smoothie or soup (like I still do).  When I add it to a smoothie or soup, I don’t notice any thickening.  But that is mainly because I am eating it right after stirring it in.  And it has no flavor, so it isn’t something you need to worry about altering the flavor of your favorite recipe.

The collagen variety (green packaging) doesn’t thicken, but I definitely preferred it added to my soup rather than adding to water or a smoothie.

This made an unbelievable, dramatic difference in my health! Beyond just helping to heal my gut, it even helped my hair grow!  I had been so nutrient deprived that my hair and nails were in bad shape.  Not only had my hair stopped growing, but it was also falling out. (Not so great for my vanity.) And my nails, which are already very thin, were splitting so badly that I had taken to wearing band-aids quite often to keep them out of harm’s way. After adding in the additional collagen/gelatin to my diet, I was finally able to absorb nutrients from my food and my hair finally stopped falling out and my nails stopped splitting.

 

And while gut health is so important, it doesn’t hurt to feel pretty at the same time.  So if you are looking to help heal your gut, help your hair and nails grow, or both, I totally recommend giving collagen or gelatin try!

Have you had success with adding gelatin or collagen to your diet?

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21 Comments

  1. Angela

    September 22, 2017 at 1:38 am

    Great post! I have heard for many years about bone broth, have yet to try it. Recently a friend recommended the collagen by green lakes for me to try but it upset my stomach so I quit using it. My husband likes it though!

    1. Lisa

      September 22, 2017 at 1:43 am

      Angela – I’m so sorry that you got an upset tummy from the collagen. Did you try the gelatin? I found it to be really mild. And you can totally use it to make jello or homemade gummies.

  2. Cerin

    September 22, 2017 at 3:07 am

    Very interesting info! I want an Insta Pot so bad!!

    1. Lisa

      September 22, 2017 at 4:48 am

      Cerin – Put it on your Christmas list! The Instant Pot is often at a great price on Black Friday.

  3. Stacey

    September 22, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    I’ve been thinking about getting an instant pot. I really hate cooking, and this seems so fast and easy. I also kind of want some soup after reading this! Winter in coming!

    1. Lisa

      September 22, 2017 at 6:50 pm

      Stacey – I love my Instant Pot. I can’t say enough good about it. I do tend to do the easy stuff though. I know there are fancy recipes out there, but I like simple and easy. 🙂

  4. Melissa

    September 22, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    My belly is never happy with me. I should start following you! Lol thank you for sharing!

    1. Lisa

      September 22, 2017 at 6:51 pm

      Melissa – I’d love for you to follow me! 🙂 But take care of that belly no matter what you do! Mine was never happy with me either and when it got worse, it definitely wasn’t fun.

  5. kiersten

    September 22, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    I’ve heard about bone broth a lot lately, but wasn’t sure what the benefits of eating it are, and now I know! I’ve got to get me one of those insta pots – I hear a lot about those too. I love anything that will save me some time!

    1. Lisa

      September 22, 2017 at 8:01 pm

      Kiersten – Bone broth and Instant Pot are pretty much my favorites! One for the healing and the other for the convenience. Hard-boiled eggs are also really awesome in the Instant Pot. You can see that post here: http://www.makinglifericher.com/2017/07/15/how-to-make-better-easy-peeling-hard-boiled-eggs/

  6. Laura @ The Mindful Mom Blographer

    September 22, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    I love homemade bone broth! I don’t make it often enough though. After I had my son my doula recommended drinking bone broth to replace a lot of the minerals and nutrients lost during childbirth, and it helped me a lot! I’m glad you finally found something to help heal your gut.

    1. Lisa

      September 22, 2017 at 8:03 pm

      Laura – Thanks! Bone broth is pretty wonderful! Glad you were able to benefit from it as well!

  7. Evangeline

    September 23, 2017 at 3:29 am

    Oh wow. The things no one knows…
    My aunt is having a terrible time with her gut. Sending her this way!!

    1. Lisa

      September 23, 2017 at 4:22 am

      Evangeline – I’m sorry to hear about your aunt! Hope she finds answers soon.

  8. Darla

    October 9, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    Great post! I’ve bought pre-made bone broth, but never tried to make my own. I am curious as to whether you’ve tried NeoCell Collagen pills, though I bet this is better absorbed by your body. I am hypothyroid and always struggling for ways to strengthen my hair and prevent shedding 🙁 Thanks for the tips!

  9. Sarah

    October 9, 2017 at 9:30 pm

    I love home made chicken soup and totally agree about it’s health giving properties. Not for nothing is it called Hewish penicillin, I also have two Jewish chicken soup recipes. It’s like liquid gold for the body. I didn’t know about the cooking pot or the fact that you can buy gelatine so thank you for those top tips. 😊

    1. Lisa

      October 10, 2017 at 1:26 am

      Sarah – You are very welcome! 🙂

  10. Kendall

    October 11, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    I love making bone broth – however, I’ve never used collagen or gelatin. Definitely wanna give it a try! I sometimes use my bone broth to make chicken noodles and will combine the broth with flour to thicken it, but I’m always looking for a better way.

    1. Lisa

      October 11, 2017 at 6:37 pm

      Kendall – You could totally use the gelatin to help thicken your broth for your chicken noodles! It wouldn’t taste the same as adding flour in, but it would be an extra boost of protein.

  11. Charlie

    October 13, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    I’m happy that you had the “guts” to write about this subject! Your post explains very well what a lot of people might just consider a stomach ache and not be addressing the proper diet or living to solve the issue! I have been using probiotics since 1972!! I can relate to gut issues, another story for future time, maybe a new post!! Good job! Love, love, love the color in the photo, catches the eye!! 😉

    1. Lisa

      October 13, 2017 at 6:03 pm

      Charlie – Thank you so much for the positive feedback! I’m so sorry you had to deal with gut issues too. They totally stink!

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