Your digestive system. It can be the essence of your health. Almost everything (with the exception of breathing and skin soaking it all in) comes in and out through your digestive system. It keeps us nourished, it feeds all of our organs and muscles, can lead to being healthy or being a mess. So ensuring your gut is healthy is imperative. In this week’s blog I brought together some key information on what to do to ensure you keep your digestive system in optimal health.
Issues most often arise with your digestive system due to poor food choices, viruses, parasites, too much caffeine and alcohol, antibiotics, NSAIDs and bad bacteria. These can all damage your gastrointestinal tract, which can in turn lead to a “leaky gut”.
“Leaky gut” means “that instead of foods being broken down, absorbed, and eliminated, partially digested foods can now cross through the damaged area of the intestinal lining and enter the blood stream directly. This leak can cause intolerance that then initiate an inflammatory response in the body and the release of stress hormones. One of these stress hormones is cortisol, which further taxes the body and starts to impair the body’s immune system. This can then lead to a host of issues that may not seem related to the impaired gastrointestinal tract, like allergies, skin conditions, impaired performance, and stubborn weight gain to name but a few.” (Source: http://breakingmuscle.com/nutrition/the-four-rs-how-to-restore-optimal-gut-health)
So now that we have the basic issue understood, what can you do about it? The great news is that there is tons of ways to make your body work better for you. Here’s how to start!
Step One – Remove the foods and toxins from your diet that can be causing the issue. Processed foods, bad fats, alcohol and caffeine to start, and see what else is causing your stomach to ache. Often dairy and gluten cause upset stomachs – listen to your body. Personally if I eat read meat I have a real tough time digesting it – I think of it as a food hangover. So I simply avoid it – including whey protein. If it just doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
Step Two – Add things that are GOOD for your gut. Probiotics are key. Probiotics help fight illness by keeping the good bacteria in your system. Omega 3s, Zinc, antioxidants, aloe vera and turmeric are all terrific. And if you read the Fit Communications blog often, you know that we are HUGE fans of these for various reasons. Add them to your day every day, and you may truly feel a difference.
Step Three – Add items such as digestive enzymes or organic salt to keep your bile salts, hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes in check. You can buy all of these items at your local health food store. Personally I take digestive enzymes before a meal such as steak that I know will be hard for me to digest. Also before a big meal such as Thanksgiving dinner, I take my enzymes to help my body digest the foods I am not used to easier.
Step Four – A few extra nutritional tips:
- Cinnamon – its great for keeping your blood pressure in check, but also can help improve digestion. Sprinkle some of your morning coffee or oats
- Mint, Ginger, Cumin, Nutmeg – all terrific at aiding with digestion and settling your stomach on an off day
- Fiber is your friend! Add fiber-rich foods to your day along with leafy greens
- Give the good bacteria a boost with fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, miso soup, bananas, garlic, asparagus and onions
- Dark chocolate – another great treat! Turns our good microbes feast on dark chocolate. So go ahead and break off another square
Last but not least…chill out! That’s right – your stomach will love you for it. Stress is a key issue when it comes to your overall health, your stomach included. So try and relax…your tummy will love you for it!