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Simple Tips For Maintaining a Healthy Gut

The last couple of weeks we’ve been focusing on keeping a healthy gut and healthy digestion, both on Wellness Wednesdays and my monthly Fundamental Foods dinner, which was held last Thursday night (If you live in the Naples area, I really want to invite you to join us for one of these dinners. I promise you will learn something new about maximizing your health). There’s no way to overstate the importance of healthy digestion to your overall wellness, which is why I keep coming back to it.

We talked about the two different kinds of fiber – soluble and insoluble – and how they work with your digestive system to promote health. Soluble fiber from vegetables enables you to stay “full” longer, while keeping your blood sugars under control. Very important. But just as important is how insoluble fiber sweeps toxins from your digestive track, where they like to congregate and cause problems.

We also learned about PRE-biotics, which are different from the PRO-biotics we often talk about. I like how Jo Ann Hattner, MPH, RD of gutinsight.com says it:

“Probiotics are live active cultures of healthful bacteria found primarily in dairy — and soy — based yogurts and drinks. They colonize in your gut and keep the harmful bacteria at bay. However, you need to eat them frequently as their stay is limited. Prebiotics are non — digestible fibers that nourish the healthful bacteria, since bacteria need to eat too. Prebiotics are fermented in the colon and the fermentation process itself contributes to a healthy environment. Probiotics and prebiotics contribute to regularity, meaning normal bowel movements on a regular basis. As everyone knows, if you are not regular you don’t feel good.”

I also just came across a great acronym from digestive care expert, Brenda Watson. She calls it HOPE:

  • High fiber diet: chia, flax, acacia
  • Omega 3 — 6 — 9: coconut, flax, hemp
  • Probiotic: fermented foods, rejuvenic, kombusha, kefir water, coconut kefir, kefir
  • Enzymes: fresh juice like carrot, wheat grass, celery, cucumber, ginger, and apple

That’s a powerful nutritional plan, and it’s easy to implement in your life.

Another one is drinking plenty of water. Not soda. Not fruit juice. Not alcohol. Just water. Water not only improves digestion, it nourishes your cells, lubricates your joints and muscles, keeps your brain sharp, softens your skin, and a hundred other things your body needs to function properly. The best water plan I’ve come across is “one half-ounce of water for every pound you weigh.”

If you are going to err in your diet, err on the side of too many vegetables and not enough processed food. Have a little meat, but not a ton of it. Avoid greasy, fatty foods as much as you can (even if you love them like so many Americans). Fat stimulates contractions in the colon which can cause cramping, diarrhea, or pressure. If you suffer from bloating and excess gas, avoid fructose and lactose-based foods.

Make sure you chew your food. Don’t be in a rush all the time. It seems like such an obvious thing, but if you compare the way we eat today to the way we ate, even just a generation ago, you would begin to wonder why we are in such a panic all the time. Chewing releases the enzymes that break down your food for digestion. It’s true what they say: “digestion begins as soon as the food enters your lips.” Don’t bypass that important first step.

I could go on and on, but I’ll save it for future articles. This is a pretty good starting point. If you will pick one or two of these simple tips to incorporate into your daily life, you will start to see some improvements in your health over the next month. Little lifestyle changes make a big difference. Don’t cover up the symptoms with drugs, attack your health problems at the root with new behaviors.

If this was helpful to you, I hope you’ll take a moment to share it with a friend. You never know whose life you might dramatically impact with a simple tip like these. I’ll see you tomorrow for “Think Right Thursday.”

“At the end of your feelings is NOTHING. At the end of your principles is a PROMISE.”  — Eric Thomas

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