Part 4 – Healthy Digestion and Good Gut Health

Gut Flora and Stress

An imbalance in your gut flora doesn’t just affect you physically, it can affect you mentally.  Studies show that having an overgrowth of certain bacteria in the gut can trigger a systemic stress response that keeps you in fight or flight mode, which is characterized by increased heart rate, high blood pressure, increased blood glucose, difficulty focusing and slowed digestion at all times.  Staying in fight or flight long-term can cause chronic inflammation that leads to chronic diseases.  Conversely, having the “right” balance of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus can turn off the hormonal signals that cause that chronic stress response.

Importance of Probiotics

Probiotics are live cultures that provide some type of benefit to the host-you.  In the case of gut dysbiosis, probiotics help repopulate the gut with good bacteria to help restore the balance.  There are two major ways to introduce probiotics into your gut.

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods are not a new thing.  Fermented foods are those that have been preserved using a process called lacto-fermentation.  During this process, bacteria feed on the sugars and starches naturally present in the food.  Fermentation does more than increase a food’s shelf life.  It makes the food more digestible, changes flavor and texture, reduces the presence of carbohydrates known for causing gas, and synthesizes vitamins like vitamin B12.

Supplements

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Part 3 – Healthy Digestion and Gut Health

Avoiding Chemicals and Processed Foods

Our typical diet is all about convenience.  When it comes to food choices, the top three criteria for many of us are convenience, potability and taste.  Processed foods contain many artificial ingredients and chemicals that your body doesn’t recognize them as food.  When you regularly eat foods like this, your body responds by attacking the ingredients it doesn’t recognize – end result?  A damaged gut!

Don’t be fooled by buzz phrases like all-natural, gluten-free or made with natural ingredients.  These phrases are designed by manufacturers to make you think a packaged food is a healthy choice even when it’s not.  Just because a processed food doesn’t contain gluten doesn’t make it healthy.  It may be filled with other gut-damaging ingredients like soy and sugar.

Make your own meals at home whenever possible using fresh, whole ingredients.  If portability and convenience are your concerns, spend a few hours on a day that you have some time prepping and preparing meals for the week.  Cook in bulk and separate food into single-serving containers.  Cut up fruit and vegetables and put them in baggies that are easy to grab on the go.  Buy raw nuts and unsweetened dried fruit in bulk and put single servings into sandwich bags.  Keep these bags on hand wherever you think hunger might strike unexpectedly.  Put some in your desk drawer at work, leave some in the car or keep them in your purse.

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Part 2 – Healthy Digestion and Good Gut Health

  A Natural, Real-Foods Approach

Focus on filling your plate with natural, real foods.  Vegetables should take up the remaining 80 percent of your plate, while high quality proteins and fat make up the remaining 20 percent.  Fruits are full of beneficial nutrients, but should not take up a significant percentage of your plate.  You can add a piece of fruit to your balanced meal or snack.

Food Quality

Purchase organic fruit and vegetables that are free of chemicals and pesticides.  While getting organic produce from your grocery store is good, local farmers’ markets are better. 

Eat with the seasons.  If a fruit or vegetable doesn’t grow in the winter where you live, skip it at the grocery store until spring or summer, the time it naturally grows.  Your body was meant to eat with the seasons.  This helps prevent food sensitivities and ensures that you are getting a wide range of nutrients from foods that you may not normally eat.

Many conventional meats come from cows, pigs, and chickens that are fed a grain or corn rich diet.  Farmers give grain and corn to animals in an attempt to fatten them up quickly and inexpensively.  Since this isn’t the animal’s natural food source, it affects the quality of the meat.

The best meat carries three labels:  organic, grass-fed and pasture-raised.  Do your best to choose the highest quality meats while staying within your budget.

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The Importance of Healthy Digestion and Good Gut Health

Your body uses nutrients like vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein and fatty acids to carry out every single one of its physiological processes, such as fixing damaged cells and making new ones.  Nutrients give cells what they need to work, grow and divide.  The only way to get most of the nutrients your body needs is through the foods you eat.

When your gut is healthy and your digestion is working properly, your body has access to everything it needs to keep itself healthy.  When your gut is imbalanced and your digestion is out of whack, your body cannot absorb nutrients no matter how clean your diet is.  Adopting a clean diet only one aspect of gut health.  You must also work to fix your damaged gut so you can absorb nutrients by taking the proper supplements, engaging in stress-reduction techniques and staying properly hydrated.

Identifying Digestive Problems

  • Bloating, belching, burning, and flatulence after meals
  • A sense of extreme fullness after eating
  • Indigestion, diarrhea or constipation
  • Rectal itching
  • Weak or cracked fingernails
  • Dilated capillaries in the cheeks and nose
  • Post-adolescent acne or other skin irritations, such as rosacea, eczema and hives
  • Iron deficiency
  • Chronic intestinal infections, parasites, yeast and unfriendly bacteria
  • Greasy stools
  • Easily bruised skin
  • Fatigue

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Garlicky Veggie-Packed Omelet

Gut Health Recipe

Gracious Garlic

A member of the lily flower family, garlic is a beautiful plant that can give your meal a tantalizing aroma and a unique flavor that can’t be found in anything else.  Use garlic or garlic powder to dress up dishes or create a savory flavor.

Garlicky Veggie-Packed Omelet

Delicious vegetables and garlic combine with fluffy eggs and egg whites to make a simple, satisfying and savory meal that will start off any day right! Protein-packed and rich in complex carbohydrates from the vegetables, this is a tasty way to get some valuable nutrition.
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 1
Calories 357 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tsp olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup sliced button or cremini mushrooms
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup torn spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped tomato
  • 2 large whole eggs
  • 4 large egg whites

Instructions
 

  • Heat olive oil or coconut oil in a small frying pan over medium heat.
  • Saute' onion for 1 minute. Add mushrooms and water, and saute' until mushrooms are softened, about 3-4 minutes
  • Sprinkle mixture with garlic powder and add spinach leaves and tomatoes, stirring constantly.
  • Whisk together eggs and egg whites and pour over the sauteed vegetables.
  • Immediately begin pushing the outer edges into the center with a spatula for one turn around the whole pan. Let omelet set for 2 minutes.
  • Gently slide the spatula under omelet and quickly flip.
  • Continue cooking omelet for another 3 - 5 minutes or until no longer runny.