Girl, Let’s Talk About Your Gut
Do you ever experience bloating; constipation, indigestion, gas, an upset stomach, or you are running to the bathroom during a really big dinner party because your IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) shows up unexpectedly? I hear you ladies. I know ALL of this far too well.
Oh, and by the way, my name is Christina and I am a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. Now that we are on a first name basis and you know all about my digestive health, I want you to know that you are not alone and there is hope!
Let me tell you a little bit about my digestive health journey. Take a seat because we will be here for a good minute. It started back when I was 8-years-old when I was diagnosed and medicated for anxiety. A few years down the road I started to experience all different kinds of digestive issues, which later on I found out that anxiety is commonly linked to irritable bowel syndrome. I was always in and out of the doctor's office and being referred to many different specialists over a 12-year period – how exhausting! The funny thing is I was eating McDonald's, Wagon Wheels, Dunkroos, pizza, pasta, etc. and wasn't advised until the age of 22 that maybe I should go see a nutritional specialist (that's over 10 years of trying to figure out my digestive issues!!!). Instead, I became the girl obsessed with antacids and a heating pack every single night because sometimes the bloating got so bad that I couldn't even move. Oh and running to the bathroom at really nice dinner parties was the cherry on top of every evening out... ugh
Finally after many frustrating years of bloating, IBS, anxiety, fatigue, and whatever other symptoms I had, I finally decided that it was time for me to take my own health into my hands. I decided to go the alternative route in 2014 because that's what worked best for me. Continuing to make small changes to my diet, lifestyle, and even taking additional supplements, I finally started to see relief. I decided to go to school as a Holistic Nutritionist so I can guide a group of people who may be going through the same health concerns I had. So here I am, ready to talk about some very simple and important ways on how to support your gut and maybe lead you one step further on your health journey.
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 lives 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 the food you eat, and they help with absorbing and synthesizing nutrients too.
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 favorite 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 store or make your own with the recipe I provided below J
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 the symptoms you are experiencing. Eventually, you will know exactly which foods upset your digestive tract.
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 the build up in the gut. It will also provide great nutrients to keep the liver running smoothly. After all, your liver is one of the main detoxifying systems in your body.
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 support 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 the 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 have benefits to see a dietician-nutritionist or a holistic nutritionist I know so many wonderful ladies (including myself) who would love to help.
Fermented foods recipe:
1-2 cups sliced vegetables (cabbage, carrots, broccoli, cucumber, cauliflower, radishes, etc.
2 cups water (room temperature)
1 ½ tbsp. sea salt
Spices and herbs (pepper, dill, thyme, rosemary, whatever flavor you like)
1 Mason jar with lid
Cut vegetables of choice and add to a small-medium sized mason jar with herbs and spices. Combine water and salt in a cup and mix together. Add salt water to mason jar until filled. Top Mason jar with a lid and shake well.
Store in a cool dry place for 4-10 days while vegetable begins to ferment. Consume fermented vegetables 1-2 x daily.
Registered Holistic Nutritionist