3 Easy Food Swaps to Heal Your Gut and Ignite Your Energy

food swaps to heal the gut

As you may know by now, I like to keep it simple, achievable and focus on the core stuff.

When you’re first starting out (or starting afresh) I like to talk about 80/20 and ‘minimum effective dose’.

What this means is focusing on the 20% of stuff that’s going to get you 80% of the benefit…

Or the minimum amount of actions to be effective and get you to your goal, without stressing over every meal, glass and mouthful…

There are three things I focus on:

– alkalinity
– inflammation
– and the immune system

And when you break that down, what it really means is:

– making your diet as plant based as possible
– getting proper oils and hydration daily
– and healing your gut

Now, I’m not going to tell you to specifically do one approach over another. Lots of people get results with raw, lots get results with paleo (or as I like to call it “Alkaline with a little meat”).

One size fits ONE – and that’s why I keep on teaching the fundamentals, the core stuff that’s going to have the biggest impact.

But regardless of your apporoach, I think we can all agree on one thing:

The Standard American Diet (or food pyramid) fits NONE!

And when you look at the SAD or food pyramid approach (and even the approach of some so-called health experts) they all include three foods that are inflammatory, damage the gut, block the digestion process and acidify your system.

So if you do nothing else, and make this your one core fundamental for this week or month, I think you’ll get amazing, noticeable-in-the-mirror results.

In fact, if you do this for a week and don’t feel and see the results yourself AND get at least one compliment, I will do a naked sprint down the street and post the video online.

I’m pretty confident I won’t have to do that.

The Three Food Swaps to Heal the Gut & Ignite Your Energy

Swap #1: Sugar


Sugar is sugar is sugar is sugar.

It doesn’t matter if it’s from fruit, honey or a cola. It has the same damaging, acidic, inflammatory effect on the gut.

The difference in speed of metabolism does not make a difference to the gut or the body’s ability to maintain it’s pH balance.

I do advise you begin by eliminating processed sugars first (especially high fructose corn syrup), I advise getting all sugars to a minimum.

Sugar consumption (like grains, below) has risen in very close correlation to the number of deaths annually from preventable degenerative diseases such as cancer, the complications from type 2 diabetes, heart disease and more.


  • In 1700, the average person consumed about 4 pounds of sugar per year.
  • In 1800, the average person consumed about 18 pounds of sugar per year.
  • In 1900, individual consumption had risen to 90 pounds of sugar per year.
  • In 2009, more than 50 percent of all Americans consume one-half pound of sugar PER DAY—translating to a whopping 180 pounds of sugar per year!

That’s pretty outrageous.

I know, it’s hard to give up sugar.

Not only is it more addictive than cocaine, but it’s also hidden everywhere. It’s in drinks, dressings, sauces, dips and pretty much everything packaged.

This is why it’s so much better to make things fresh, yourself (see the recipes at the bottom of this guide)
I also know it’s hard to go cold turkey, but my 10-step sugar quitting plan here should help.

Swap #2: Wheat & Grains


I know I may lose a few friends over this, but if you want to regain your gut health and your energy (which starts in the gut), you have to eliminate wheat, and any other gluten-containing grain.

Wheat has been proven, in the scientific literature, to be of serious detriment to our health.

In the biomedical literature, that is published in the National Library of Medicine, over 200 adverse health effects have been strongly linked to gluten-containing grains.

Frighteningly, neurotoxicity (brain disease) tops the list, but digestive disorders, reflux, acne, weight gain, chronic fatigue, heart disease, cancers, immune disorders, arthritis and more all feature heavily.

Inflammation Is Perhaps the Primary Concern…

Remember, at the heart of almost every disease or condition is inflammation.

And nothing causes inflammation in the body like the gluten from grains.

Grains also cause more of a blood sugar spike than chocolate, candy or high-sugar fruit.

And while it would take a whole other article to go into this in depth – this blood sugar spike causes excessive insulin release, which stresses the pancreas, causes an excessive immune response, leads to damage to the intestinal lining (and leaky gut) which then causes more immune response, which leads to more insulin release…

It’s a vicious cycle.

And it all leads to inflammation, auto-immune conditions, brain conditions, fatigue, weight gain, type 2 diabetes and more…

And it all starts with grains.

How they have been painted as being a health-food in our society is one of the biggest scams in our modern history.

Alternatives to Heal the Gut

  1. Quinoa
  2. Brown Rice
  3. Sprouted Breads
  4. Buckwheat
  5. Amaranth
  6. Gluten-free pastas, but look out for those that are as unrefined as possible – so many have so many ingedients they’re almost as bad as the wheat version – look out for one with less than three ingredients

Swap #3: Processed Meats


To be alkaline, you don’t have to give up meat forever.

You can still eat good quality, organic meat as part of your balanced diet.

But do you know what doesn’t fall into that category of high quality, organic meat?

Processed meats.

Bacon, ham, salami, corned beef, bologna, pastrami, hot dogs, bratwurst…you get the picture…

These have to be one of the most damaging, inflammatory, acidic foods you can possibly eat.

World Cancer Research Fund reviewed more than 7,000 clinical studies that examine the connection between diet and cancer.

Their very clear and precise conclusion?

Nobody should eat processed meat.

They stated:

“There is strong evidence that … processed meats are causes of bowel cancer, and that there is no amount of processed meat that can be confidently shown not to increase risk … 
Try to avoid processed meats such as bacon, ham, salami, corned beef and some sausages.”

Pretty conclusive.

And researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) have found that eating processed meat (again, including bacon, sausage or processed deli meats) was associated with a 42% higher risk of heart disease and a 19% higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

“To lower risk of heart attacks and diabetes, people should consider which types of meats they are eating. Processed meats such as bacon, salami, sausages, hot dogs and processed deli meats may be the most important to avoid.”

Telling you to stop eating something is half it, the other half is to give you solutions, right?

Of course!

Recipes to Get You Started

So here are three delicious recipes you can use to start eliminating these three gut-damaging, inflammatory, immune-sapping, acidic foods.

Recipe #1: Gut Healing Super Soothing Soup

Soothing Gut Healing Soup
Serves 4
This soup is nourishing, comforting and soothing, and it feeds your gut with everything it needs to repair and replenish.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
  1. 200g lentils (or one can, drained and washed)
  2. 1 avocado
  3. 1 large sweet potato
  4. 1 large handful of spinach
  5. 2 carrots
  6. 1 red bell pepper (capsisum)
  7. 2 tbsp chopped dill
  8. 1 handful of cashews (roughly chopped)
  9. 4 cloves of garlic
  10. 1 brown onion
  11. 200ml yeast-free, MSG-free vegetable stock
  12. 1 tbsp coconut oil
  1. Prepare the lentils, if dried and set aside. This takes the longest!
  2. Next, roughly chop the onion and garlic and warm gently in a very large saucepan with the coconut oil
  3. While these are browning and flavouring up, chop the peel and chop the sweet potato and carrots roughly, and once chopped, add to the pan and get it all mixed together and coated in oil. Stir for about 2 minutes to start to warm the root veg and get the flavours of the garlic and onion onto and into them
  4. Now add the vegetable stock, and simmer for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are just warmed through but not overcooked – we want to maintain as much of the nutrients as possible.
  5. Add the lentils in now for the last five minutes to get these warmed through too
  6. Next, transfer to a blender or food processor (do in batches if your blender isn’t big enough to do all of this at once) and add in the avocado, capsicum (roughly chopped and deseeded), spinach and dill. Keep just a few sprigs of dill back if you want to garnish.
  7. Blend until smooth and serve with those sprigs of dill, sprinkle with the chopped cashews and drizzle with a little olive oil at the end.
Adapted from The Anti-Inflammation Cook Book
Adapted from The Anti-Inflammation Cook Book
Live Energized https://liveenergized.com/

Recipe #2: Delicious Chia Cream Pots

Coconut Chia Cream Pot
Serves 4
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  1. 1 cup of (organic) coconut milk
  2. 1/4 cup of chia seeds
  3. 1 date
  4. 1 cup of coconut yoghurt
  5. 1 tablespoon of flax seeds, ground, or 1 tablespoon of flax meal
  6. 1 tsp of sesame seeds
  7. 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  1. Firstly, sweeten the coconut milk by blending with the date. This little touch of sweetness and flavour from the date makes a huge difference!
  2. Next combine the coconut milk in a large bowl with chia seeds, vanilla, flaxmeal (ground flax) and sesame seeds.
  3. Put into the fridge for 20-30 minutes until the chia has expanded.
  4. To serve, fill a small glass with a layer of coconut yoghurt, followed by the chia mix, then a little extra layer of coconut yoghurt.
  5. Top with your choice of toppings!
  1. www.liveenergized.com
Live Energized https://liveenergized.com/

Recipe #3: Wheat-Free Quinoa & Hummous Wraps!

Alkaline Wheat Free Quinoa & Hummus Wraps
Serves 4
Wheat-free lunches can be tricky when you're first starting out, but this wrap is SO delicious you won't even notice! Full of alkaline, nutrient-dense but creamy, crunchy, colourful fillings - you will not be able to stop at just one.
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Prep Time
12 min
Total Time
12 min
Prep Time
12 min
Total Time
12 min
  1. 4 large Collard Leaves (depending on gaps you may need a couple more)
  2. 1/2 cup Sprouts (any you like)
  3. 1/2 cup Purple Cabbage, shredded or carrots
  4. 1/2 cup Beetroot, either cooked and mashed or raw sliced very finely
  5. 1 cup Quinoa
  6. 1 cup Hummus
  7. 1 cup Avocado
  1. First, get the quinoa cooking - put the cup of quinoa into a pan with 2 cups of cold water, bring to the boil and then simmer on a really low heat until the water is evaporated and the quinoa is fluffy
  2. Next get the wraps going by prepping out the collard leaves, cut from the plant, washed and laid out like a regular wrap
  3. Next spread the hummous equally over each leaf - the hummous acts like a glue for the ingredients!
  4. Slice and lay out the avocado in a line from top to bottom down the middle of the leaf
  5. Add the quinoa equally between the leaves and then fill with the remaining ingredients
  6. Next wrap by folding at the bottom (to stop everything falling out) and then rolling into a regular wrap shape!
  1. You can also use a toothpick to hold in place. This yields 4 wraps, so if it's just you eating, put the others in the fridge for tomorrow!
Live Energized https://liveenergized.com/

Scientific Research & References

Louise M Aston, James N Smith, John W Powles. Impact of a reduced red and processed meat dietary pattern on disease risks and greenhouse gas emissions in the UK: a modelling study; BMJ Open 2012; (Reference)

Amanda J Cross, Michael F Leitzmann, Mitchell H Gail, Albert R Hollenbeck, Arthur Schatzkin, Rashmi Sinha. A Prospective Study of Red and Processed Meat Intake in Relation to Cancer Risk. December 11, 2007; (Reference)

Renata Micha, RD, PhD, Sarah K. Wallace, BA, and Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH. Red and processed meat consumption and risk of incident coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis; Circulation. 2010 Jun 1; 121(21): 2271–2283. (Reference)

Rohrmann, S Ph.D. Meat consumption and mortality – results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition; March 6, 2013, BMC Medicine online; March 6, 2013 (Reference)

Ban JO, Oh JH, Kim TM et al. Anti-inflammatory and arthritic effects of thiacremonone, a novel sulfurcompound isolated from garlic via inhibition of NF-kB. Arthritis Res Ther. 2009; 11(5): R145. Epub 2009 Sep 30. 2009.

Bahadori B, Uitz E, Thonhofer R, et al. omega-3 Fatty acids infusions as adjuvant therapy in rheumatoid arthritis. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2010; 34(2):151-5.

Chedraui, P., & Perez-Lopez, F. R. (2013). Nutrition and health during mid-life: searching for solutions and meeting challenges for the aging population. Climacteric, 16(S1), 85-95.

Elbandy MA and Abdelfadeil MG. Stability of betalain pigments from a red beetroot (Beta vulgaris). Poster Session Presentation. The First International Conference of Food Industries and Biotechnology & Associated Fair. Al-Baath University, North Sinai, Egypt.

Fredrickson, B. L., Grewen, K. M., Coffey, K. A., Algoe, S. B., Firestine, A. M., Arevalo, J. M. G., et al. (2013). A functional genomic perspective on human well-being. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(33), 13684-13689.

Ippoushi K, Azuma K, Ito H, Horie H, Higashio H. [6]-Gingerol inhibits nitric oxide synthesis in activated J774.1 mouse macrophages and prevents peroxynitrite-induced oxidation and nitration reactions. Life Sci. 2003 Nov 14;73(26):3427-37.

Iriti, M., Vitalini, S., Fico, G., & Faoro, F. (2010). Neuroprotective Herbs and Foods from Different Traditional Medicines and Diets. Molecules, 15(5), 3517-3555.

Lashinger, L. M., Ford, N. A., & Hursting, S. D. (2014). Interacting Inflammatory and Growth Factor Signals Underlie the Obesity-Cancer Link. The Journal of Nutrition, 144(2), 109-113.

Licinio, J., & Wong, M. L. (1999). The role of inflammatory mediators in the biology of major depression: central nervous system cytokines modulate the biological substrate of depressive symptoms, regulate stress-responsive systems, and contribute to neurotoxicity and neuroprotection. Mol Psychiatry, 4(4), 317-327. –

Maroon JC, Bost JW. (2006) Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) as an anti-inflammatory: an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for discogenic pain. Surg Neurol. 2006 Apr;65(4):326-31.

Ask Me a Question or Leave a Comment Here - I'd Love to Hear from You


  1. Sheila Reply

    Dear Ross,
    I have given up wheat and now eat Rye bread instead making sure it’s wheat free. I am concerned when you mention about grains, as I have flax seeds and hemp sprinkled over my natural yogurt.
    Should I avoid these products ?
    Thank you for all your great advice.

    • ross Reply

      Hey Sheila

      The biggest issue with wheat is the gluten, and rye also contains gluten – so is best avoided. Flax and hemp are awesome though – don’t give these up.


  2. Margie Hall Reply

    Hello Ross,
    I am older than most people and after examinations today from a Gastrologist, i have gastritis, slight hiatus hernia and diverticulitis. I knew there was a problem because of reflux. I what to concentrate on Alkaline foods.
    Love your website,
    I am taking regularly Fish oil, Magnesium, Vit D, Nexium 20mg (i wish to get off) Vit C 1000mg.

    I am interested in the Alkaline foods. Are Potatoes Acid or Alkaline?
    I live in Hornsby Heights, NSW Australia

  3. Steve Reply

    Hi Ross,
    I’m new to the alkaline diet. One thing I am having difficulty with is that I have always eaten ham and other processed meats in my sandwiches; so what do you suggest as an alternative?
    Keep up the good work by the way.