Why Gut Health is so Popular.
Gut health is pretty popular right now. From probiotics to prebiotics and everything in between it has become a health craze where everyone is now increasingly concerned with increasing their healthy gut flora. The reason for this current gut obsession is because there have been studies linking gut imbalances to a variety of health conditions. From acne, depression, and cognitive decline. Not maintaining a healthy and balanced gut could contribute to a variety of health issues.
The Role of the Gut.
In order to properly understand why gut health is so important and why everyone is focused on increasing gut health, you must know and understand the role the gut plays in our overall health and wellness.
There is a colony of microorganisms that live in our intestines. They are known as gut flora and make up the gut microbiota. Key responsibilities and functions of the gut microbiota are to digest foods that the stomach and the intestines can’t digest, prevents harmful bacteria from eating away at the lining of the gut and provides a barrier preventing harmful bacteria from causing us to become sick. When the gut microbiome is healthy and thriving so are we. When there is an imbalance in the gut microbiome this allows bad bacteria to grow in abundance decreasing the effectiveness of the good bacteria. This imbalance can lead to issues with digestion, immunity and can contribute to digestive issues.
Common Gut Issues
Irritable Bowel Syndrome/IBS
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which is also referred to as IBS or spastic colon, is a disorder that results in abdominal pain and digestive upset. Common symptoms are a pain in the lower abdomen, excessive gas, diarrhea, and constipation.
While the exact cause of IBS is unknown and factors such as genetics, food intolerances, occurs after taking antibiotics or when you have experienced a stomach bug.
It is suspected that in some cases of IBS small intestinal bacterial overgrowth may (SIBO) may be a contributing factor as well as having a low level of inflammation within the lining of the small intestine.
When any of these contributing factors cause IBS to present itself it can make day to day life very uncomfortable. Working with a well informed medical professional that will help identify the exact cause of what is causing your digestive upset is key to getting you on the path to recovery.
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky Gut Syndrome is an area of medicine that is considered a cloudy area. While this is not a true medical condition, but more so of a combination of symptoms that do not align or match with other more common digestive and gut issues. It is suspected that with a leaky gut syndrome that there the lining in the GI tract becomes more permeable and allows undigested food particles into the bloodstream causing an inflammatory response within the body. This can also interfere with the proper uptake of many vitamins and minerals causing vitamin deficiencies to present themselves which can contribute to other health issues occurring.
Some signs and symptoms associated with the leaky gut syndrome are bloating, cramps, gas, food sensitivities, as well as aches and pains. While these set of symptoms are not unique and can quite often be confused with a variety of other digestive issues or may even be due to another underlying issue. Finding a medical professional that will take the time to work and seek the root cause of the problem and seek a proper diagnosis while working with you to ease symptoms and distress is key.
Irritable Bowel Disease/IBD
Irritable Bowel Disease or IBD refers to any disease that affects the large intestine and causes an inflammatory response to present itself. Conditions such as Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease belong to the IBD family.
Ulcerative Colitis is when there are inflammation and ulcers in the innermost lining of the large intestine (the colon and rectum). Symptoms develop over a period of time and managing this condition can be quite difficult. Signs and symptoms include diarrhea with blood or pus, abdominal pain and cramping, rectal bleeding, weight loss, fatigue, and fever.
If you begin to notice these persistent changes in your bowels it is time to schedule a visit with your doctor for an evaluation.
Crohn’s disease can affect the last segment of the small intestine or it can affect the colon. Crohns’s causes inflammation in the areas that it affects leading to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, and malnutrition.
If you are experiencing the signs and symptoms of Crohn’s Disease or have persistent changes in your bowel habits for an extended period of time schedule an appointment with your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and possible treatments.
How to Alter Your Nutrition to Heal Your Gut
Holistic, intuitive based nutrition is a combination of focusing on consuming whole, minimally processed foods while practicing mindful/conscious eating patterns. This approach to nutrition is especially helpful if you are seeking to heal your gut or manage an inflammatory condition. Implementing changes to your diet in a slow and mindful fashion while monitoring any changes with your symptoms can help you learn what works and what doesn’t work.
If you are dealing with a digestive issue such as one of the ones mentioned above or if you just want to learn more about how you can focus on preventing issues with gut health the changes listed below will help you to accomplish this. You will be especially successful if you include these simple changes while working with a medical professional to work on reducing and improving symptoms for a complete integrated approach to your health.
Tip #1 Understand Your Triggers
Uncovering what foods elicit specific responses in your body is key towards reducing symptoms and flare-ups. Keeping a simple food journal where you track what you eat and how your body responds over a period of time can help to clue you into what foods are best for helping you to manage your symptoms and heal your gut and what foods you need to eliminate and cut out. Tracking your food over a period of 2 weeks will give you a good place to start identifying what you need to either decrease or eliminate.
Once you have a list of foods or triggers that cause your symptoms or flare-ups begin to decrease those foods and evaluate how that works for you. Understand that making changes to your diet does not mean you have to completely overhaul your diet. Instead, make small changes and remain consistent with those changes and evaluate the results and decide if there is something you need to tweak or change and move forward from there.
It is also important to mention that if you are currently following a diet that is heavy with processed, refined foods, excessive amounts of sugar, and consuming meals from restaurants and fast food joints that are high in saturated fats, and trans fats you are going to need to work on transitioning to a more balanced approach to your nutrition. All of these things are factors that contribute to low-grade inflammation in the body and can increase symptoms and flare-ups. You don’t have to cut out all of your favorite foods but learning healthier alternative or perhaps decreasing how many times you consume a food can go a long way in healing your gut and improving your digestive health.
Tip #2 Consume Gut Healing Foods
While you are decreasing foods that are contributing to inflammation and damaging the gut it’s important to include foods that will help promote healing and decrease inflammation in the gut.
Some gut healing goods to implement in your diet are bone broth, kombucha, kimchi, fermented foods, fiber-rich foods, grass-fed meat, probiotic-rich foods, coconut oil, wild fatty fish, and steamed vegetables.
Tip #3 Take Gut Healing Supplements
Another important part of a well-balanced diet is to make sure that you are supplementing vitamins and minerals to ensure you are getting all the nutrients that you need and decreasing any nutrient deficiencies where possible. Also adding in supplements that aid in rebuilding healthy gut flora, and rebuilding the gut lining. Some supplements to consider adding into your wellness regimen are:
- Probiotics- Help to rebuild healthy gut flora.
- Digestive Enzymes- Assist in proper breakdown of foods you eat to ensure that you are able to absorb nutrients from your meals.
- L Glutamine- helps to heal the gut lining, promote healthy gut function, and support a healthy and active immune system
- Herbal teas- Teas such as ginger and peppermint tea are great at decreasing and easing digestive upset while also helping to increase and aid in proper digestion.
- Collagen powder- Another powerful supplement that helps to heal the gut lining.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Resist the urge to overhaul your diet and begin to make changes left to right and instead focus on small, manageable changes that you can maintain and build on. Make sure that you work with your medical professional and that you are vocal and open with what you’re doing and the changes that you’re making to ensure that you are on the right path and not doing anything that goes against your doctor’s wishes for you on your path to recovery. Continue making changes and adjustments as necessary. Bear in mind that it can take a while to notice changes, especially if you have been struggling with a digestive condition or imbalanced gut for a prolonged period of time. Allow your body the time it needs to adjust and heal and get to its happy place without rushing the process.
If you find the whole process of working towards improving your nutrition and conquering your digestive health issues simply overwhelming and you don’t know where to start to hear me when I say that I can help you! You don’t have to struggle with this alone. I will be there with you every step of the way and can point you in the right direction and let you know how to implement these nutritional changes so that you can reach recovery. If you want more information on how you can get the help you need in healing your gut through wellness coaching to click here to schedule a consultation with me and we can discuss the next steps that you need to take.
Til next time Rebels!