In previous blog posts we tackled specific food offenders and a protocol to heal that leaky, grumpy gut. Now let’s devote a little time to giving the gut what it wants! In turn, overall health benefits will abound!
A balanced, varied diet
First and foremost, by focusing on a whole-foods based diet (not the store!), you will satisfy your body’s nutrient requirements WHILE pleasing the gut. I’m all about multi-tasking! This general term, “whole-foods based,” simply refers to a dietary regimen composed of more natural food items including fruits, veggies, nuts, and whole grains in their original form.
A good rule of thumb is to eat foods as close to coming right out of the ground as possible, the least amount of processing involved the better. Unfortunately, there are no Cheeto farms or ice cream ponds… so no, sorry, these are not included in the plan. When visiting the grocery store, stick to the outside perimeter—A.K.A. the grocery store racetrack (please don’t run anyone over with your buggy! It’s not really a race). The outer perimeter is where the fruits, veggies, fresh meats, nuts, and grains are typically located. If you tend to venture into the inner aisles during the majority of your grocery store adventures, you may indeed be a junk-food junkie. That’s okay though, no need to beat yourself up about it, now’s the time to make some changes!
Moving on to the liquids department…hydration is of key importance and is essential to the body’s organs and cells! Dehydration can affect us in a number of ways including causing headaches, gastrointestinal disturbances, fatigue, and an inability to clear toxins from the body to name a few. Unfortunately, we often fall short of consuming our body’s daily requirements.
We wake up, have a nice, steamy cup of joe or tea, have a soda or two throughout the day and end with more coffee or perhaps an after-dinner cocktail. All of these substances affect the body’s internal water balance. In addition, if you wait until you are actually thirsty to take a sip of water, you are likely mildly dehydrated at that point. Major bummer!
Think about it this way… have you ever chugged a big gulp of soda and immediately regretted it because your tummy gets all bubbly, prickly, and gasey? Now imagine our poor little cells, including those lining the gut lumen, the first ones to encounter substances like soda… all of a sudden, the cellular milieu is inundated with carbonated bubbles, phosphoric acid, caramel food coloring, benzoate, and fructose or sucrose molecules. And all cells really want is plain old water! Imagine trying to function with all of this surrounding you—it’s got to be distracting for our unlucky little cells! Nutrients and wastes need to flow freely in and out of our cells. Water, not soda, facilitates this process. So give those poor guys some water, will ya?
Obtaining adequate fiber is another point of contention as most Americans do not eat enough on a daily basis. The National Institute of Health recommends 35 grams of fiber per day. Fiber prevents waste materials from becoming stagnant in the gut and therefore helps to keep things moving along. In addition to keeping the gut happy, it’s also essential for cholesterol management, weight loss, proper liver function, prevention of cardiovascular disease, prevention of cancer, and more. Fiber, specifically soluble fiber, also acts as a prebiotic for gut bacteria. They eat the fiber and give off SCFAs, the fuel for those gut cells. My next blog post will talk all about pre- and probiotics, so stay tuned.
Good sources of fiber include beans, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Refined foods tend to have less fiber due to manufacturing processes. As a frame of reference, a medium-sized pear has roughly 6 grams of fiber, while an avocado has about 12 to 14 grams. Beans are also a great source! So if you have a pear, a nice large salad with an avocado, and a cup of beans throughout a single day, congratulations…you have reached your goal. Your gut will thank you!
Now that a friendly reminder of the gut’s wants and needs has been offered, go out there and conquer! Afterwards, be sure to evaluate how well your gut is responding to these newly implemented changes by completing a GI Effects Function Profile. This test will allow you to monitor predominant flora, fiber intake, and inflammation in the gut. Any areas of weakness found in your individual results will focus your efforts in order to bring about a greater level of health.
Thanks for reading! Until next time, remember to keep your gut happy, healthy, and free of dysfunction! —Dr. Marynowski
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