Well, here I am, about to jump on this gut train! Before I dig into this too much I need to say that there are far more contributors to poor gut health then I will touch base on here. Simple? Actually yes and for some reason it has become a problem that seems to be increasing. I didn't always feel this way but since becoming vegan, I do not suffer from any of these ailments. This said, I feel many people simply accept the issue and blame their bodies opposed to listening to them. The main issue with allergies, IBS, bloating, hormone imbalances is often food - not good food but instead food that our bodies are actually warning us about. Processed (fake) “food” and dairy are the main sources. Making small changes by elimination and replacement usually prove to be beneficial after about 3 weeks of ‘cleaner’ eating.
A FEW FUN FACTS ABOUT THE GUT • 70% of our immune system is located here • The gut creates about 80% of our hormones • Our gut and brain are connected, meaning that our mood affects our gut and our gut affects our mood
Because the gut plays such a large role in the body, our digestive health is something that all of us should focus on improving. However, if you are asking yourself, “Do I have poor gut health?” then here are a few common signs and symptoms that you may: • Gas • Bloating • Nausea after meals • Abdominal cramps • Abnormal bowel movements • Weight gain • Heartburn/acid reflux • Chronic fatigue • Become sick easily/fights off sickness slowly • Brain fog • Anxiety • Depression
THERE ARE 3 AREAS OF FOCUS FOR IMPROVING GUT HEALTH SUPPLEMENTATION / NUTRITION / LIFESTYLE Below are my suggestions for improving all three areas so that you can have a stronger, healthier gut!
OPTI-GREENS 50 ( Personally recommended for flavor) or the brand PROGRESSIVE are my recommendations
For starters every time I mention a greens product I hear “ I already eat alot of vegetables”. That’s great...but what is alot? And “alot” can mean very different amounts to each of us. Do you eat 11+ servings of 50 different vegetables and grasses with a meal every day? I don’t know about you but I would find that very difficult & time consuming to say the least. Typically, we have our favorites as a side dish & our toppings for salads. We get used to that structure and variety is not as regular as it should maybe. I myself have a habit of buying the same veggies….broccoli, asparagus, brussel sprouts, onions, peppers, cauliflower, beans.
Lets just say for shits & giggles that you do…. Did you know that all vegetables start to die as soon as they are removed from their roots? By the time our produce hits the grocery store shelves, there is only 20% nutritional value left in the product…..they have been dieing a slow death during their transport to the shelves. When we hear all the hype about our soils being depleted, there is a reason why it's become a real thing. We try our best to eat organic, fresh, whole veggies from our grocer, the problem is that by the time our veggies are cultivated, put on a truck, shipped and brought out to our produce section - there’s nothing really left, that's also why you have like a day or 2 to eat something and then it goes bad….ugh. As a nutritionist I highly recommend whole foods over supplements whenever possible, however, I am aware of our choices and our busy lives so supplementation can help in order to maintain some sort of balance.
A greens powder contains an extra blend for good digestion. I prefer my Opti greens due to the unique qualities of the formula. For example, it is packed with probiotics which are live organisms that reduce bloat and inflammation, regulate bowel movements, improve the immune system, minimize lactose intolerance, and even reduce anxiety and cognitive function. Be sure you choose a green product that provides the body with specific strains of digestive enzymes ( something I used to purchase separately) that help the body break down proteins, carbs, and fats. Most people lack the proper amount of digestive enzymes needed (due to lifestyle, stress, etc), and this can lead to bloat and digestive discomfort. On top of loading up your gut with these healing nutrients, these greens provide the body with vitamins and nutrients from organic vegetables and fruits.
Other options that can be used in conjunction are:
GLUTAMINE This is an important nutritional powder for healthy cells in the gut. Glutamine is fuel for the gut and it helps build up and strengthen the gut lining. This powder is completely tasteless. Dosage: Take 10-20g daily. Take 5 or 10g in the morning, and then take 5 or 10g in the afternoon. Personal suggestion – Add 1 serving to Opti Greens 50 in the AM, and then drink another serving ina late day shake or post workout
PLANT BASED DHA & EPA Omega 3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation in the gut, which can also reduce bloating.
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR: BRAGG’S “THE MOTHER” This is made from apple cider, and it has been fermented. Fermentation forms health-promoting probiotics and enzymes that stimulate digestion and improve gut bacteria. Dosage: Take 1 ounce daily, and dilute with lemon water. It is best to take this first thing in the morning or right before bed.
ALOE VERA JUICE: Aloe is loaded with nutrients that soothe the gut, and it helps with regulating bowel movements. It helps reduce acidity within the body which can also get rid of heartburn. Dosage: Take 2-4 ounces daily. Sip on 1 ounce before each bigger meal, or else drink 2-4 ounces with lemon water in the morning.
CHAMOMILE TEA: TRADITIONAL MEDICINES This tea contains botanicals that produce a soothing substance that coats the digestive lining and helps with inflammation. Dosage: Use 1-2 tea bags daily. Drink at night.
COCONUT OIL This superfood improves digestion as it helps improve bacteria and gut health. It actually gets rid of bad bacteria in the body which is a great thing because bad bacteria interferes with digestion! It also helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins.
FENNEL Fennel is a wonderful vegetable that aids in improving digestion. It is a natural laxative that also promotes healing within the gut. I prefer to chop up a bulb of fennel and then bake it or pan sear it with a little avocado oil. I add it to salads, rice, or I snack on it alone.
AVOCADO Avocado is a superfood, packing with fiber and essential nutrients that help restore gut health. Avocado has lots of potassium, which is great for healthy digestion! I personally love avocado sprinkled with pink salt.
RASPBERRIES Just 1 cup of raspberries has 8g of fiber! Fiber is an important aspect of healthy digestion, and adding in these berries is an easy way to load up. Plus, raspberries are very low in sugar compared to most fruits!
SAUERKRAUT Sauerkraut is simply fermented cabbage. It has little to no taste but it is packed with billions of probiotics. Add to a salad, or eat straight from the jar! Bubbies and Farmhouse Culture are great brands.
COCONUT KEFIR This is a fermented drink which comes from coconut milk. It contains antibacterial and antiinflammatory properties and provides fuel for the beneficial bacteria in the gut.
KOMBUCHA Kombucha is fermented tea, and it is loaded with probiotics that support gut health. Kombucha can be homemade or found at many grocery stores. Be careful with Kombucha as a lot of brands have added sugars, and since kombucha is carbonated, it can cause digestive discomfort if consumed in large amounts. I suggest drinking 4 ounces a few times per week.
Please keep in mind that these are simply suggestions and may not work for everyone. Feel free to reach out to me if you want to discuss this or any other concern further. Here’s to a happy healthy gut!!!