A lot of us don't tend to think about gut health until it starts acting up and making us feel bad. An angry gut will often let us know in obvious ways with symptoms such as, gas, bloating, abdominal cramps, constipation, diarrhoea and/ or acid reflux. What we don't realise is that our gut health also impacts our overall health, it keeps our mood up and our skin glowing.
The good news is that diet plays a huge role in maintaining a healthy gut. Start with fibre, probiotics and water. If your digestive problems are related to your diet, you’ll likely get some relief.
Why do the “big three” matter?
It’s often when these three are out of balance in our bodies that gut problems occur. And that makes sense because these three play a major role in day-to-day digestive health. Our digestive tracts love balance, and providing the right nutrients is always the best way. That’s why it’s important to do this with food first and then getting advice on supplements.
Getting the fibre you need
With a little planning, it’s not hard to get to the recommended daily amount of 25 grams. While that sounds like a lot, it’s about 5 fruits and vegetables a day or a mixture of whole grains and legumes. With five to seven servings of a variety of fibre-containing foods, it’s not too challenging to meet that goal. There are some good shortcuts — like 1 cup of blackberries or raspberries has about 8 grams of fibre, about one-third of your daily need!
Why do we need probiotics?
Your gut is full of good bacteria to help digestion, and keep your intestines healthy. The key word to finding probiotics in the diet is the word “fermented.” During this process, healthy bacteria are produced in foods that stay alive to do positive work in your gut when you eat them. Top sources are: yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, miso and tempeh. And you need to eat them daily, not just once in a while, to make sure your gut is fully supplied.
When it comes to probiotics, stick with real food, not supplements unless your nutritionist has OK'd it. It’s easy to get too much of a good thing — sometimes making your symptoms worse. Recent studies show that even people with lactose intolerance can usually handle a serving of yogurt or kefir each day, because there is natural “lactase” (the enzyme that digests the lactose in dairy) already in yogurt created during the fermentation process from milk to yogurt.
Do you need prebiotics?
No, it’s not a typo — “prebiotics” exist. Simply put, as a living thing, probiotics (healthy bacteria) need fuel to live and thrive in your gut. Prebiotics are this fuel. The good news is if you’re eating fruits and veggies daily, you’ll have enough prebiotics from foods, without any supplements. Good sources of prebiotics are blueberries, strawberries, apples, watermelon, onions and leeks.
Why is water so important?
You need to keep your water intake high especially when you eat a fibre-rich diet to avoid constipation. Staying well hydrated helps boost digestion and easier flow through your digestive tract. Stick with water and non-calorie liquids (not diet drinks).
Remember that fruits and veggies are 90% water — and this counts! As you boost your fibre intake, try to drink an extra 1 cup of water for every 5 grams of fibre you add. And it’s easy to figure out how much fluid your body needs — drink to thirst and take a peek in the toilet bowl after you’ve gone. If your urine is not pale, it’s time to drink more water!
Foods to avoid
While there are a lot of foods to add for better digestion, there are a few triggers that can aggravate or contribute to problems. Learn your own triggers, cut out the problem foods and see if your symptoms improve. You are your own best judge of that! Here’s a list of top irritants:
Acidic foods like oranges and grapefruit (acid reflux)
Spicy foods like hot pepper sauce (acid reflux)
Sugar alcohols like sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, used in sugar-free foods (gas, bloating stomach pains, diarrhoea)
Seltzer/soda (gas, bloating)
Processed/refined foods (gas, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation)
High-fat foods (diarrhoea, bloating)
Legume pastas (gas, bloating, stomach pains)
Low-carb tortillas (gas, bloating, stomach pain)
When to speak to a nutritionist
With all of these issues there will be a root cause. If you don't address the root cause you may never be able to eat certain foods again without reacting. It may be time to work with me to heal your gut so that your life can get back to normal and you're not seen as a "picky eater". With an initial assessment and testing, I can track down the cause and set up the right plan for you. There’s no reason to live in discomfort. Help is out there when you need it.
Life guided you to read this email, there’s something here for you. There might be one sentence that I’ve written, that makes you say, “that’s what I need”. This will be the breadcrumb that takes you to the next thing, to the next thing… No one can tell you what your healing journey will look like, but I invite you to set the intention.
A word from my client, Emily, I.
"Michelle helped me with issues such as bloating and fatigue. She was prepared and gave me updated health plans after every session we had and supported me throughout the entire process, whilst giving me the tools to help manage/prevent any more symptoms. I highly recommend her services."