Getting Gut Happy

Akilah Ivy
4 min readApr 17, 2023


Training “The Second Brain” to Think Better

artist: Sarah Steenland

The gut is often referred to as the second brain, and I’ve been working with mine to get it to work in my favor. Apparently, when you start working with your gut and listening to its wisdom it will speak up more and more.

I remind myself all the time that the mind is full of lies and twisted tales. The body is where the truth lies.

Having a good, functioning digestive system is one important key to having vitality, and I’m sure there are plenty of things I haven’t digested properly over the years. Oops.

So, during the past few months I’ve experimented with different ways to improve gut health, and here are some habits I’ve adopted that have worked wonders for me:

Warm Lemon Ginger Water

I start my day with a glass — 1 part lemon, ginger, fennel water I keep in a pitcher, boiled from a previous night, and add two/three parts hot water from a kettle. Some days I’ll even add a couple caps of ACV (apple cider vinegar).

The warmth of the water relaxes the gut and loosens the system so it can do a better job of digesting during the day. Lemon, ginger and fennel are all proven top agents that work toward healthy gut activation.

Foam Roller Flattening

There are all kinds of transformation stories online that show how massaging a certain area of the body can change its appearance.

There’s definitely power in focusing hard on something you want to change. Using a foam roller to massage my gut has been a key ingredient in creating that change for myself.

Rolling over the cylinder, face-down on my knees and forearms, feels quite interesting. Squishy, silly but also deeply spiritual and sometimes a little uncomfortable.

I suggest doing this after a good bowel movement and before meals. Also, be slow and gentle with yourself in this position as it’s likely some discomfort and pain may come up, but that’s where the gold is if you’re brave enough to process it.

Breathing From The Deep

I am surprised at how often I catch myself chest breathing on autopilot. It’s like I’m in a constant state of worry, “on alert” and I have to remind myself to breathe in deeply from my gut.

When we breathe in from the gut and not the chest, we send a signal to the body that we are safe, grounded, and present in the moment.

Taking a full breath in, filling up my diaphragm, and breathing all the air out on an exhale gives the body a full cycle of breath to lean into. Taking this full, conscious breath is like giving your entire nervous system a warm hug.

The Fermentation Station

Fitting in fermented foods every day has been a total game-changer. A side of kimchi or a dollop of sauerkraut with meals is all it takes. My favorite sauerkraut right now is from Local Culture Ferments and I put that shit on everything.

Of course, you can also have yogurt and even take fermented supplements if you’re on the go. Fermented foods help produce healthy bacteria in the gut and initiate the digestive enzymes we need to break food down properly.

I’ve also been cutting back on the juicy, sugary, processed, risky foods I adore so much: pasta, bread, pastries, etc. and it’s not easy, I won’t lie. Instead of indulging in these delectable treats whenever I want, I make them a rare luxury to enjoy all the more.

Happiness is the Truth

Working with the gut activates the sacral chakra which governs our creativity and decision-making. And as the saying goes “When you go with your gut, you can never go wrong”.

My personal aim has been simply to feel more connected to my gut and not feel bloated all the time.

I am treating my body with grace during this work as I sometimes fall under the pressure to aim for perfection; that ultra-flat Sports Illustrated cover belly. Some day in the future perhaps after I’ve practiced these healthy gut habits for many moons.

It’s important for us to feel connected to our center, to our core and life-force cauldron. The gut is the soul’s fire that needs the proper fuel to reflect our most authentic selves to the world.

These simple practices are helping me step my own game up, and I hope they do just as much for you.



Akilah Ivy

Traveling nomad & cosmic oracle. Art curator & alchemist. Sharing my experiences and discoveries in spirituality, storytelling, and liberation.