How To Eat For Your Gut Type, According To A Functional Nutrition Specialist

Image by Ali Harper / Stocksy

If there is one diet truth we can all agree on, it’s that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition. We’re all individuals with different needs—and that goes for healthy eating, too. That’s why, in my experience with functional nutritional therapy and health coaching, I’ve found that eating based on personal gut type can be very helpful.

What’s exactly is a “gut type”? It’s a concept I use to describe your gut’s default state of imbalance, which shows its true colors when you’re stressed or internally out of whack. (Learn more details about the five gut types, here.)

Knowing your gut type can give you clues into what foods, supplements, and lifestyle factors might help you feel your best. That said, it’s important to experiment with what works for you—if you are a blend of gut types, you may want to try multiple things. (Again, there’s no universal approach when it comes to diet.)

Below, I’ve put together some suggestions for each gut type, based on my own experience.

Note: Whatever your gut type, if you’re experiencing difficult symptoms, consider working with a functional medicine practitioner to help you get to the root causes of your health challenges. Also, consult with your doctor before adding any supplements to your routine or making major diet changes.

The Digestive Gut


As a refresher, the digestive gut type has the most overt digestive challenges and gut-related symptoms like constipation, bloating, nausea, IBS, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), and gastritis.ADVERTISEMENT

Foods to feel your best.

You may want to consider experimenting with the following eating styles, potentially as a short-term, therapeutic approach.

  • Basic microbiome diet (no gluten, dairy, sugar, refined flour, alcohol, industrial seed oils)
  • Paleo diet (also no beans, soy, peanuts, grains), or the pegan diet
  • Short-term low-FODMAP diet (30 to 90 days for dysbiosis, SIBO, constipation)
  • Consuming a varied diet
  • Fermented foods
  • Bone broth

Supplemental supports.

For this gut type, I generally recommend digestive enzymes, digestive bitters, hydrochloric acid (if no gastritis), probiotics, prebiotics, short-chain fatty acids, apple cider vinegar, and mineral drops in water.

Of course, it’s always important to speak to your health care provider before adding any new supplements to your routine, especially if you are already currently taking any medications.

Lifestyle tips.

Optimizing your digestive mechanics and supporting the microbiome are key for the digestive gut.

As far as eating habits go, I recommend focusing on sitting down at a table for mealtimes; chewing your food really well; and eating homemade meals whenever possible.

I also advise prioritizing other healthy habits, like daily exercise (but no overtraining), seven to nine hours of sleep (try using blue-blocker glasses at night to help), time with loved ones, daily fresh air, deep breathing and yoga, plus an overall solid morning and evening routine.

Although these principles are helpful for everyone, they become even more pronounced for the digestive gut types who “feel” imbalance most directly in the gut.

The Immune Gut


The immune gut type is characterized by imbalances like skin breakouts, autoimmune conditions, allergies, asthma, multiple food intolerances, environmental sensitivities and reactions, and frequent illness (the person who gets sinus infections, colds, or strep throat routinely).

Foods to feel your best.

  • Autoimmune paleo diet (paleo diet + no eggs, nuts/seeds, nightshade spices and nightshade vegetables, >20 grams of fructose)
  • Short-term low-histamine diet

Supplemental supports.

For the immune gut type, I believe the following may be helpful: digestive supports (under digestive gut type); immune supports, such as vitamin C, liposomal glutathione, or liposomal curcumin; extra-virgin cod liver oil; vitamin D3 (if low).

Lifestyle tips.

Supporting the immune system is the name of the game. In my experience with this gut type, I recommend prioritizing sleep; moving daily (without overdoing it); practicing yoga and breathwork; and finding a new hobby or creative outlet to feed your purpose.

Like the digestive gut, the immune gut is affected by food and lifestyle stressors, so following these daily practices may prove helpful.

The Toxic Gut


I consider a “toxic gut type” the person who can’t seem to figure out why they aren’t getting better despite doing everything to be healthy. The person with this gut type typically has a history of autoimmunity or some immune trigger like a gut infection, mold exposure, or Lyme disease.

Foods to feel your best.

  • Autoimmune paleo diet (paleo diet + no eggs, nuts/seeds, nightshade spices and nightshade vegetables, >20 grams of fructose)
  • Short-term low-histamine diet
  • Celery juice

Supplemental supports.

Similar to the two gut types above, I’m a fan of digestive and immune supports for the toxic gut type, too. Additionally, I often recommend: “mast cell stabilizers” like quercetinmethylation supportlymphatic drainage support; and mitochondria support. This gut type may also benefit from looking into parasite or gut infection supports, under the direction of a health care practitioner.

Lifestyle tips.

From what I’ve observed, a toxic gut is often a progressed form of an immune gut. In other cases, a toxic gut can be a byproduct of a significant breakdown in optimal digestive function as well as mitochondrial function.

In a toxic gut, the liver, gallbladder, and digestive system as a whole may be disrupted from chronic exposure to toxins (chemicals, metals, mold, pesticides); long-term, low-fat, or low-protein diets; antibiotic exposure; or infection (bacterial, parasitic, viral, Lyme or Lyme co-infections). Genetically poor methylation is also a common finding.

To support this type of gut through lifestyle, I’m a big fan of deep-breathing practices, infrared sauna, dry brushing, air purifiers, plus mold testing and remediation—to name a few helpful habits.

The Hormonal & Metabolic Gut


The primary symptoms of those who have, what I consider, a “hormone and metabolic gut type” are related to their hormones—endometriosis, PCOS, PMS, irregular cycles, insomnia, or a thyroid condition. Considering gut health is tied to metabolic health, these individuals may have metabolic imbalances, like unwanted weight gain, fatigue, and blood sugar issues. It’s also important to note that the relationship between hormones and the gut microbiome is bidirectional—meaning they affect each other.

Foods to feel your best.

  • Basic gut microbiome diet
  • Paleo or pegan diet
  • Short-term lower-carb, higher-protein, and higher-fat diet
  • Reincorporation of carbs and plants (if you’ve been low-carb or keto for some time—especially for women)

Supplemental supports.

Like with all gut types, I recommend digestive supports (under digestive gut type). A few possible helpful supplements I also stand by include ashwagandha and rhodiola; blood sugar support nutrients (magnesium, zinc, methylated B vitamins, taurine, carnosine, R-Lipoic acid, chromium, molybdenum); fiber (modified citrus pectin, glucomannan, or partially hydrolyzed guar gum); liver/gallbladder support (beetroot, taurine, ginger, milk thistle, dandelion); extra-virgin cod liver oil; liposomal curcumin; rose oil; and vitamin D (if deficient).

Lifestyle tips.

Common stressors that drive the hormonal metabolic gut type include chronic dieting, sugar consumption, overtraining or undertraining, under-sleeping, exposure to toxins in products, and more.

A few lifestyle tips that I’ve found helpful: Just say no to overcommitments; find a healthy balance of strength, HIIT, and cardio in your weekly workout routine (not all cardio); don’t fear carbs or fats or proteins (balance is king); avoid plastics (water bottles, storage ware) whenever possible; cultivate a de-stress practice (deep breathing, yoga, nature, meditation); and potentially consider alternatives to hormonal birth control with your doctor.

The Brain Gut


The brain gut is exactly what it sounds like—disruption in the brain-gut connection. It is characterized by suppressed vagus nerve function, which, in turn, suppresses digestive function as a whole (low stomach acid, low enzyme production, slowed GI motility). People with this gut type experience mindset imbalances and challenges as their primary default symptom.

Foods to feel your best.

  • Basic gut microbiome diet
  • Paleo or pegan diet
  • Short-term lower FODMAP (if constipation is an issue)
  • Short-term lower-carb, higher-protein, higher-fat diet
  • Reincorporation of carbs and plants (if you’ve been low-carb or keto for some time—especially for women)
  • Drink plenty of filtered water (half your body weight in ounces)

Supplemental supports.

For the brain-gut type, in addition to digestive supports (under digestive gut type), the following may possibly be helpful: ashwagandha and rhodiola; extra-virgin cod liver oil; liposomal curcumin; chamomile; vitamin B12 or B-complex (methylated); zinc (15 to 30 mg for eight weeks); and magnesium.

Lifestyle tips.

A few lifestyle practices that may help include avoiding overcommitting; exercising daily (without overtraining); sleeping seven to nine hours nightly; practicing meditation and deep breathing; trying acupuncture; getting fresh air daily; avoiding blue light at night; and sticking to one cup of coffee daily or less.

The Wild-Card Gut


For anyone who feels like they’re a combination of all five, I classify that as a “wild-card gut,” primarily characterized by inflammation when things are out of balance.

Foods to feel your best.

For this gut type, it may help to compile strategies from the five gut types—whatever seems the best fit for your current needs. For starters, consider including a wide variety of one-ingredient, real-food proteins, fats, and fibers, with a limited amount of the following:

  • Pastured eggs
  • Gluten-free grains and legumes (soaked and sprouted beans, peas, oats, rice)
  • Cultured dairy (yogurt, kefir) and hard cheese (low casein)
  • Occasional sweet things: raw honey, maple syrup, 70 to 100% dark chocolate
  • Soaked and dried nuts and seeds

Supplement supports.

As for supplements, start with the basic gut supports, including short-chain fatty acids, prebiotics, digestive bitters, and enzymes as needed.

Bottom line.

If any of these gut types resonate with you, based on my experience in this area, it may help to add additional nutrition and lifestyle supports to your routine. Again, it’s always important to speak to your health care practitioner before making any dramatic changes.


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