You guys know this topic is near and dear to my heart as I have been on quite the digestion journey over the past….year. I had a million tests run, tried a million supplements, listened to a million podcasts, researched a million topics…and in the end I was told by doctors that I had IBS. Well, that wasn’t good enough for me. And you might be on the same journey (or just looking to be healthy overall, as recent research has proved how important our gut is on overall health), so I wanted to share some top tips to restore your gut and beat the bloat…without prescribed medications!
These days it seems everyone is talking about our guts and the microbiome. First of all, what is the microbiome? The microbiome is all of the bacteria, fungi, pathogens etc that live in our gut. It is comprised of over tens of trillions of these microorganisms and over 3 million genes. It fact, all of it can weigh over 2kg. TWO KILOGRAMS, that is a lot of ‘stuff’. These microorganisms are actually beneficial for us (even though when we think of bacteria we think of getting sick) because they:
◊ Help digest and absorb foods
◊ Increase acidity and promote healthy bowel movements
◊ Eliminate gas and bloating
◊ Improve gut health
◊ Promotes healthy thinking and mind clarity
◊ Regulates hormone levels
Without these organisms, we find ourselves getting sick, tired, having food intolerances and allergies, and just plain old discomfort. Like me. And this is no way to feel. But we can fix it, and not with antibiotics or diets, but with making sure our gut health is in check and we have a good gut flora (bacteria).
It has also been shown that our gut can lead to more serious conditions like heart disease, skin conditions, auto-immune disease, cancer, Type II diabetes and more! This means that our gut health, can either be EXTREMELY beneficial for us, or EXTREMELY harmful! But, it is something that is acquired. As babies, we are born sterile. And over our lifetime we begin to slowly increase the diversity of our gut health!
With all good things, can come a few downsides. As we age, we build our good gut bacteria and live happily ever after. But. There are a few things that can start to decrease the good bacteria and increase the bad bacteria, which can lead to a lot of different health issues like Candida, Leaky Gut, Crohns disease and more. A few things that can lead to an imbalance in gut bacteria include:
♠ Longterm antibiotic use
♠ Overuse of antibacterial soap
♠ Overuse of sanitizing liquids and chemicals to disinfect
♠ Consumption of refined foods (and sugar, read my blog here about the dangers of sugar on our bodies)
♠ Excess stress (lack of sleep, overexertion, stressful situations)
♠ Not eating a balanced diet
♠ Too much alcohol (also, read my blog on the harmful effects of alcohol)
Now, I am not saying that you have to stop doing all of these things overnight. It takes time to create a gut imbalance, so it is also going to take time to fix it. If you find you are having some symptoms of gut imbalance such as food intolerances, bloating, constipation/diarrhea, mood disorders, poor sleep quality, etc, maybe it is time to take a look at your day to day habits and see what you can start to change and work to fix the problem! Again, we do not want to mask symptoms, but rather fix the root cause of things.
You knew this was coming. I can’t just give you all the downsides, and not give you some good tips to improve your health…right?! Poor gut health can look like bloating, gas, diarrhea/constipation, bad breath, food allergies, rashes, and even mood disorders. But there are ways to increase good bacteria, and have a healthy microbiome, and those include:
♣ Increase fermented foods
♣ Take a probiotic and prebiotic supplement
♣ Eat a well-balanced diet (but not too many RAW veggies)
♣ Decrease inflammation (foods for this include turmeric, ginger, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, blueberries)
♣ Decrease stress
♣ Increase exercise
♣ Decrease long term antibiotic use
♣ Rub dirt on it (literally, get outside!)
♣ Remove gut killing foods (dairy (at the beginning), stevia, gluten, carbonated drinks, artificial food dyes)
♣ Take natural supplements (L-glutamine, manuka honey, bone broth, Licorice root, collagen)
All of these things can be very helpful in building up the good bacteria in your gut and either get you feeling healthy, or keep you feeling healthy! If you really think about it, too much of anything is a bad thing. Too much bad bacteria leads to gut imbalance, too much vegetables can lead to constipation, too much fat can lead to heart conditions etc. So make sure, when you are making changes to increase good gut health, that you are not over-doing it and having too much of a good thing!
This is important for me, and most people. That feeling you get after eating something specific, where your stomach just grows and grows and you get super uncomfortable and want to curl up in a ball until it goes away, if it goes away…the boated feeling is not fun. I try to make sure I am limiting any chance of bloating whenever I can, and these are a few of the guidelines I follow:
♥ Keep your mouth closed (and not just eating). Drinking through a straw, chewing gum, talking while eating and carbonated drinks can all cause excess air to enter your belly.
♥ Be careful of food triggers (cruciferous veggies, whole grains and apples have high fiber content and can cause excess bloating).
♥ Slow down your eating, make sure you are thoroughly chewing your food.
♥ Take a digestive enzyme before eating
♥ Try eating smaller meals and not overfilling yourself
♥ Make sure you are drinking enough water
♥ Supplements like magnesium, calcium, and peppermint can be beneficial
♥ Increase physical exercise as it increases the movement of digestive muscles (I create a new workout and post it each week to my website, all super quick and can be done anywhere)
One thing to remember during the process of either healing your gut, or supporting it, is not to do too much at once. It takes time to figure out what is going to work for you, and what isn’t. So take your time, try one or two things at once. If those don’t work try something else. If you do too much at once you will end up not knowing what is really helping, what isn’t doing anything, and what is making things worse!
I hope this helps clear up some questions you may have about digestion, bloating and gut health! If you want to learn more about different health topics and get the inside scoop that no everyone gets, sign up for my newsletter! This week is going to be HOW TO BUILD A WELL-ROUNDED MEAL…you don’t want to miss it!
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