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Family Nutrition

Is Your Gut Telling You Something?

March is National Health Month. March is also the host month for National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day, National Banana Cream Pie Day, National Pancake Day, National Pound Cake Day, National White Chocolate Cheesecake Day, National Oreo Cookie Day and National Chocolate Caramel Day. Is your gut telling you to stay away from all that sugar? It should be!

Gut Reactions
Did you know that your gut (the digestive system including the stomach and intestines) has 10 times more bacteria than all the human cells in your entire body? You probably have about 400 bacterial species swimming (or crawling?) around in you as you read these words.

If your gut is reacting poorly, you may have a number of symptoms including bloating, gas, diarrhea, food allergies and other digestive sensitivities. You may also have reactions that you think have nothing to do with your digestive system, such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, irritability and skin problems like eczema and rosacea. In fact, an unhealthy gut has been linked to diseases ranging from autism and autoimmune conditions to inflammatory bowel disease and type 1 diabetes.

If you read that list, you may be thinking that basically anything can be traced back to an unhealthy gut. And you’re right.

The way to see if your health issues are related to an unhealthy gut is simply this:

Get rid of things that are either inflammatory (spices, gluten and others), infections (yeast or parasites) or irritants (alcohol and caffeine). Remove processed foods, soy, eggs and sugar. Remove it ALL for two weeks. Note how you’re feeling. Next, add back one item at a time. When you have a negative reaction, you have identified one of many potential culprits.

Add in the stuff a healthy gut needs. Eat raw, cooked or fermented foods your gut loves such as:
  • Jerusalem artichokes (high in inulin)
  • Bananas (who doesn’t love a banana?)
  • Polenta (high fiber)
  • Broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower (cruciferous veggies)
  • Blueberries (great antioxidants)
  • Beans (food for your gut bugs)
  • Fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, yogurt)
Re-inoculate. To get your system back to “normal” you can take a high-quality, multi-species probiotic. Look for 25-100 billion units a day.

Repair. There are a number of nutrients which you may be taking for other reasons (omega-3 fish oils and vitamin C for example) which also help the gut repair itself. Add these to your diet for ongoing gut health and gut repair:
  • Aloe vera (the herb, not the lotion)
  • L-glutamine
  • Omega-3 fish oils
  • Slippery elm (an herb)
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Zinc
An additional solution for a healthy gut is to find ways to manage your stress. When an unhealthy gut goes on for too long it can lead to life-altering chronic and inflammatory illnesses.

What is your gut telling you to do?

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