- Food variety
- Fiber is queen
- Fermented foods for gut health
- Get out and move
- Avoid toxins part l
- Avoid toxins part ll
1. Why your digestion sucks
Have you been struggling with your digestion? Nowadays, it is unfortunately quite common that most people have problems with their digestive tract or the assimilation of nutrients. We have mostly sedentary lifestyles, too much stress and often eat convenience food in a hurry. Furthermore, we eat too much, too fatty and too sugary.
Our gut microbiome is not so diverse anymore because of the high processed, pesticide laden foods we eat, that has been grown in monocultures on depleted soils. Depending on your unique constitution, this can lead to i.a. an upset stomach, bloating, gas and diarrhea and/or constipation. Furthermore, a major part of your immune system is located in the gut so due to a disrupted microbiome those nasty respiratory and nasal conditions like colds and sinusitis are coming back at you regularly.
Your gut microbiome (all the good bacteria which live in your intestines and help you digest the food you eat) is so unique like your fingerprint. Scientists are only at the beginning of finding out how everything works in detail and which bacteria are involved, but so far we know that your microbiome changes with what you eat. So yes, this may seem quite complicated at first, but there are some easy hacks to treat your good bacteria well and what to avoid or limit.
2. Food Variety
Eating the same every day? Of course we all do have our favorite staples, but your gut microbiome is striving with variety. Different foods nourish different good bacteria and having lots of these is key to a healthy digestion. So try to sneak in new things daily. Vary your vegetables and grains, try some new fruits and add some raw veggies and a few greens. Easy tiger, though, in the beginning: if you are not used to eating raw foods, your body might have a hard time breaking it down and especially raw greens are hard to digest. Start slowly and add more over time. I recommend starting with some berries or banana with your breakfast and about 25 gr green leaves (aka salad) and about 100-150 gr of raw veggies before lunch. Eating fruits after meals can cause bloating and maldigestiondue to fermentation.
3. Fiber is queen
There are three types of fiber: Insoluble fiber, soluble fiber and resistant starch. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and helps your intestinal tract stay on track and keeps it lean and clean. The best sources are whole grains, nuts, green vegetables and the skins of root vegetables, like potatoes. Soluble Fiber dissolves in water and feeds your good gut bacteria. It is found in legumes, brown rice, quinoa, berries and seeds. And then there is resistant fiber, also known as resistant starch, which is a unique type of starch that is digested only many hours later and creates little insulin response aka does not spike your blood sugar. You can find it in boiled potatoes, canellini beans and unripe bananas, for instance.
4. Fermented foods for gut health
In the past, when there was no fresh fruit available in winter, people used fermentation as a way of getting vitamins and nutrients. Fermentation is a natural preservation technique, which contains all the wonderful probiotics that your microbiom needs. Live cultures like lactic acid are not only found in yogurt and kefir but also in kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut and miso. But be aware: the pickles you can buy in the supermarket are usually not fermented but pickled in vinegar, which is not the same and has no benefits for your gut.
5. Get out and move
A sedentary lifestyle is poison for the gut. It can lead to constipation and when you are constipated, your body is not eliminating the toxins and waste it wants to get rid of. Movement will help your intestine (which in fact is also a muscle) does its job and break down your chyme. Don´t worry, I´m not telling you to go on the treadmill for hours. Gentle exercise like walking and yoga is absolutely doing the job so try to incorporate a bit more action into your day. Maybe add a pedometer to your smartphone and simply try to walk more during the day.
6. Avoid toxins part l
Chemicals are almost everywhere around us and we cannot avoid them completely. Yet, we can limit our exposure at least in our own homes, since a lot of chemicals are wreaking havoc on our gut. Easy places to start is to switch out your toxic cleaning products for biological ones, same goes for your detergent, dish soap etc. Next step is to switch everything you put onto your skin (body lotion, shower gel, makeup…) to natural cosmetics. Your skin is the biggest organ and you do not want to bathit in chemicals each and every day. There are a few apps on the market which allow you to easily scan barcodes on products and show you what ingredients are harmful and what similar, healthier products you could use instead.
7. Avoid toxins part ll
Ditch the convenience food. Honestly. There are so many ingredients on the label of which you do not even know what they are. And believing that the food industry has your best interest at heart is like believing in Santa. You are smarter than that! There is nothing healthy about convenience food and it is almost always too high in sugar, fat, carbs, sodium or all of the above. And it feeds your bad gut bacteria, we don´t want that. Also, be aware of toxins in your healthy foods: pesticides in fruits and vegetables, antibiotics and growth hormones in meat and dairy and heavy metals in fish and seafood. Opt for biological whenever available and affordable.
8. Are you doing all that good stuff and still have problems?
If you are eating your rainbow, exercise, avoid fast food and toxins and still have trouble there can be several reasons. First of all, maybe after years of treating your microbiome like the neglected step sister it may need a while to get back on track. It could also be, that you are eating too much raw and cold food which you simply cannot digest or you are eating healthy stuff at the wrong time. Maybe there are other issues which prevent you from living your best, healthiest life. I recommend saving yourself some time and checking in with a nutritionist who can help you with your individual constitution and ailments.
If you want to know more about all things gut related, you should check out the gut health doctor Dr. Megan Rossi and her amazing website and books: https://www.theguthealthdoctor.com/about/
Please note: If you have serious problems with your digestion, please check in with your doctor or naturopath. Digestive problems can be an early sign of severe health conditions.