Love Your Gut

 
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I am here to talk about your gut. Yes, YOUR gut. Gut health is one of the first topics I discuss with my clients and one of the most important places to start when beginning your healing journey. There is no denying that gut health has been on the rise for the past few years and health professionals are starting to look closer into how the gut causes different kinds of disease, along with mental illnesses. Have you ever heard of the mind-gut connection? Well that is for another post on it’s own, but it truly is a topic that we need to discuss.

I remember the FIRST time I started having gut issues. Keep in mind I have many years of anxiety behind me and because of the mind-gut connection, there is no surprise that gut issues were just around the corner. I was about 8-years-old, and started to experience the sharpest pains in the right side of my stomach. My mom almost took me to the hospital thinking that I was having an appendicitis attack. With the consumption of Pepto Bismol and applying a heating pack, the pain was gone within minutes.

This was just the beginning of my gut health issues. Over the years I began to overload my body with all different type of antacids, and had a heating pad on my stomach every single night. Years down the road with lots of abuse of overloading my body with medications and poor quality fast foods, my digestive system worsened. Junior High rolled around and I had my first ever IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) attack. If you are someone who has experienced IBS before or even have had a stomach flu for that matter, you could only imagine how embarrassed I was. After many trips in and out of the doctor’s office I was finally sent to see a GI specialist. I did some research on my own and went into his office and said, “I think I have IBS” and he said, “I think I agree with you”. I still had not a clue what to do other than take probiotics that was recommended by the doctor. As the years went on and as I got older I was still at a loss on what to do. High school and university came around and it was game over. Weekend after weekend of alcohol consumption and 2 am McDonalds runs were the icing on the cake. Every single day for years I had symptoms of: bloating, diarrhea, constipation, extreme nausea, headaches, fatigue, and any other symptom you can think of. My gut was so angry with me for many years of abuse.

Up until a year and a half ago I was still experiencing these symptoms. It took me years to get my digestive system running smoothly again and for my IBS to be under control. Sometimes I do have digestive upsets, especially under periods of anxiety and stress. But I now know how to control this with using a holistic approach of the body, mind and spirit. I know which foods upset my stomach by years of paying attention to my body, and I know how to calm down my anxiety, which was the main trigger to these IBS attacks. Every now and again after eating for example, Alfredo pasta (dairy + gluten) I will experience some bloating and other symptoms, but I have learned which protocol works best.

Below I have provided you with tips and tricks that I use with all of the clients I meet with gut health issues. I hope that this helps you out if you experience any digestive issues and are at a loss of what to do. You are not alone my friend, I know exactly what you are going through and I want you to know that by focusing on small steps at a time, your gut will be feeling happy and healthy again. First, let me quickly educate you on your gut microbiome.

What is your gut microbiome?

Your gut microbiome is made up of the trillions of microorganisms and their genetic material that live in your intestinal tract. These microorganisms, mainly comprising bacteria, are involved in functions critical to your health and wellbeing. These bacteria live in your digestive system and they play a key role in digesting food you eat, and they help with absorbing and synthesizing nutrients too.

11 tips to improve youR gut health

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1) Probiotics and prebiotics

2) Fermented foods

3) Bone broth

4) Remove any offending foods and listen to your body

5) Reduce inflammatory foods

6) Focus on whole foods

7) Start your day with warm water and lemon

8) Take 1 Tbsp of ACV before meals

9) Chew your food and practice breathing techniques before meals

10) Practice stress management and develop a good sleeping pattern

11) Work with a nutritionist  

1) Probiotics and prebiotics

Both probiotics and prebiotics work together as a team. Probiotics are living organisms in the gut that are essential for creating friendly bacteria. If you have been on any antibiotics in the last 5 years then being on a probiotic is ideal. Prebiotics are important because they help feed the friendly bacteria and promote its growth. You can think of prebiotics as a food source for probiotics.

My favourite probiotic supplement is the Genuine Health Advanced Gut Health 15 billion Probiotic (https://www.genuinehealth.com/en-ca/products/gut-health-probiotics/) the best sources of probiotic foods are fermented foods.

Prebiotic food sources are dandelion greens, chicory root, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas, oats, apples, and barley.

2) Fermented foods

As discussed earlier, fermented foods are a great source of probiotic foods that will create friendly bacteria in the gut. This will help eliminate bad bacteria in the gut and create a friendly environment for good bacteria to live. Probiotics enhance mineral absorption, break down bile, and strengthen the immune system.  The best sources of fermented foods are yogurt, kefir, kombucha, miso, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, and some cheeses. You can always buy these at the closest health food story or make your own.

 3) Bone broth

Bone broth is like liquid gold when it comes to healing your digestive tract. It is so tasty and full of beneficial nutrients that will help give your gut the proper nourishment it needs. It contains amino acids such as proline, glycine and glutamine that help repair the gut lining. Bone broth is rich in collagen, which will help soothe the intestinal lining and creates connective tissue to protect our bones and joints and maintain healthy skin, hair and nails. You can make it yourself, or buy in the store. I recommend drinking 1-2 cups daily to fully reap the benefits.

4) Remove any offending foods and listen to your body

Removing offending foods is the first step. These are any foods that you are allergic to or sensitive to. This causes damage in the gut and over time can increase intestinal permeability such as leaky gut.  The best advice I have is to listen to your body and note which foods may be triggering these symptoms. Buy a food journal and write down the foods you are eating and symptoms you are experiencing.

5) Reduce inflammatory foods

Your microbiome regulates inflammation and immunity throughout your entire body. These foods are best to be avoided because it can inflame the gut lining and cause many digestive upsets. Inflammatory foods I suggest avoiding are sugar, alcohol, processed foods, dairy, and gluten.

6) Focus on whole foods

Eating whole foods with nutrient-dense properties is one of the most important tips when healing your gut. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, dark leafy greens, easy-to-digest grains (gluten-free oats, quinoa, millet and amaranth), and healthy fats like avocado, flax, hemp, pumpkin seeds, almonds, raw coconut and walnuts. These foods will help reduce inflammation and support gut health.

7) Start your day with warm water and lemon

Before any consumption of coffee, tea, or food I suggest starting your day with a warm mug of warm water with lemon juice. This is great for regulating your metabolism and will help eliminate toxic build up in the gut. It will also provide great nutrients to keep the liver running smooth.

8) Take 1 Tbsp of ACV before meals

Organic Apple Cider Vinegar will help create hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which will break down foods and avoid upsetting digestive symptoms you may be experiencing. The combination of the ACV and lemon will activate enzymes in your stomach, which will allow the proper breakdown and distribution of foods (better for nutrient absorption). ACV will also open up detox pathways, which will help with the liver and regulation of bowel movements.

9) Chew your food and practice breathing techniques before meals

Deep breathing is VERY important and I suggest practicing this throughout the day – especially before meals to relax the digestive tract and allow proper breakdown of  foods. Chewing food longer will also be beneficial in breaking down your foods and proper distribution of your nutrients. Chewing is the first step in the digestive process as it sends a message to the stomach to get the stomach acid ready and to the pancreas to send enzymes to the small intestine. Chewing until the food is liquefied before swallowing gives your digestive enzymes a chance to access all the nutrition locked up in the food you’re eating.

10) Practice stress management and develop a good sleeping pattern

Digesting food requires a parasympathetic nervous system response. Balancing the parasympathetic system decreases stress levels. Emotional stress can trigger digestive upsets and cause an inflammatory response in the gut. Stress decreases nutrient absorption and decreases the blood flow to digestive organs.  I suggest practicing stress management tips such as yoga, meditation, breathing techniques, being in nature, walks, listening to music, journaling, and finding a sleep routine. Sleep is important as it allows the digestive system to repair and rest. Creating a good sleeping routine is a great way to allow your gut to restore.

11) Work with a nutritionist  

Working with a nutritionist is great for long-term benefits. I work with many clients who have gut health and mental health concerns and I guide them along their health journey. It is important to have someone there to check in on you and make sure that you are making improvements. Nutritionists create a safe space for you to ask questions and share any health concerns you may have. As a holistic nutritionist I take a mind, body, and spirit approach and dive deeper on these issues. If you are looking for a holistic nutritionist to help you, please contact me at eatsbytee@gmail.com