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“I feel so full and bloated. It’s embarrassing.”
“I can’t seem to lose this belly no matter what I try.”
“I gain 5 lbs just looking at a cookie.”
“I only go to the bathroom every few days. It gets sooooo painful.”
*This is what you might be saying.*
Bloated, gassy, constipated, body pains, heart burn, low back pain, depressed, anxious, or sore joints.
*This is what you might be experiencing.*
Frustrated, embarrassed, angry, sad, annoyed, fearful, or isolated.
*This is what you might be feeling.*
It can feel like a never ending cycle of get hungry, eat food, be uncomfortable, get frustrated. Maybe this is only occasional for you.
When it does happen, it feels all consuming. Nothing else matters in that moment except figuring out what to do to take away the pain and discomfort.
This is preciously why gut health is becoming such a popular topic; It is happening more and more and to more people. And when you look past the frequency of occurrences, you will start to discover that gut imbalances are actually linked to way more than just bloating and gas—IBS, autoimmune disorders, mood imbalances, inflammation, chronic pain, Celiac’s Disease, joint pain, excessive bloating, Candida, SIBO, just to name a few.
One area not often mentioned is the direct relationship that gut health has with how strong your immune system is. About 70% of your immune cells live in your gut. The stronger the gut bacteria that you have built up, the more it can crowd out the unhealthy bacteria and not allow it to hang out on your gut lining and populate. If your gut health is not up to par, your immune system can not operate at it’s best.
It all starts in one place…
The Gut Microbiome
Let’s think of the gut as the setting of a party:
Gut microbiota is a gang of microorganisms that hang out in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. They are like the fun people at the party and you want them there hanging out and sharing space with you. The gut microbiome refers to this collection of genetic material and functions of the microbiota — the more inviting of a party space (microbiome) means that the fun people (microbiota) are going to want to hang out and invite more fun people to come and join the party. A symbiotic relationship exists between the fun people and its host (you) —they obtain food or other benefits from their host without causing harm. In turn, these fun party people also provide a number of health benefits to the host.
But when the party doesn’t have great food and the ambiance is not inviting, this can cause an imbalance because the fun party people start to leave.
Let’s put the wine down and the turn the lights back on…back to belly talk…The problem with a microbiome imbalance is that it can open you up to a slew of health conditions such as:
- Celiac disease
- Insulin resistance
- Type 2 diabetes
To get the microbiome stronger and to help you feel better, eating nutrients to support the gut are super important. Here are 5 tips to get you started.
- Eat your fiber. Eat a high-fiber diet rich in vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. This includes prebiotic-rich foods, such as dandelion leaves, Jersulam artichokes, oats, and sources of inulin (e.g., onion, garlic, leeks, bananas)
- Limit sugar and artificial sweeteners. Sugar and artificial sweeteners can directly affect your gut microbiota by decreasing them. This includes natural sugars (i.e., date sugar, beet sugar). To help with the transition, you can start by replacing sweets and desserts high in sugar with fresh fruits, which contain natural sugars but also provide polyphenols, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and water. You do not have to get rid of sugar all together, but too much can directly affect the health of your gut.
- Eat a variety of proteins. Moderate consumption of protein has been shown to have a positive impact on your gut health. Eat a variety that stems from vegetable proteins (i.e., pea protein, fermented soy such as tempeh and miso, beans and legumes, quinoa, yogurt) and animal proteins (i.e., fatty fish such as salmon, grass-fed beef, chicken, pasture-raised eggs, venison, bison). On average, it is recommended that adult women and men eat 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. For example, for a 150 lb (68kg) individual, this translates to approximately 54 grams of protein daily.
- Don’t forget the polyphenols. Polyphenols are a broad class of plant-based compounds that may inhibit the growth of potentially harmful bacteria to build up in your gut, such as E. coli and H. pylori. Include foods such as black and green tea, citrus fruit, red wine, berries, cocoa, and seeds.
- Eat your fermented foods. The gut needs to be replenished with probiotics. One way you can obtain them is through fermented foods. This would include cultured dairy products (i.e, kefir, yogurt), fermented vegetables (i.e, sauerkraut, kimchi), and fermented soy products (i.e, miso, tempeh, natto).
Eating a diet designed to heal your gut is not only a good idea, but it is essential if you want to get rid of the painful and/or embarrassing symptoms of digestive distress. How can you start to slowly include the tips above to bring you more relief and more long-term health?
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