Tag: gut healing

Eat Mindfully to Improve Digestion

Simple Habits to Improve Digestion Naturally

Do you struggle with poor digestion? That can show up as bloating, gas, or pain after meals. When things aren’t moving like they should (#poopproblems), we’re often quick to jump to medications or supplements to promote a bowel movement. However, there are simple habits you can put in place to improve digestion naturally and prevent the slowdown in the first place!  First, Let’s Take a Look at Digestion  Digestion starts before you take a bite of food. Your senses (like smell & sight) tell your brain to start to release chemicals in a downstream cascade that prepares your stomach for breaking down and absorbing food. One hormone, ghrelin is responsible for making us feel hungry. When it is activated, we also begin making more stomach acid and releasing more digestive enzymes from the pancreas.  As soon as food hits your tongue, you begin digesting it with salivary enzymes. These enzymes are primarily responsible for breaking down fats and carbohydrates in your meal. Have you ever chewed a piece of bread beyond recognition and noticed it starts to taste very sweet? .. That’s because the amylase is at work breaking polysaccharides down into di- and monosaccharides, like glucose!  When food reaches the stomach, we rely on stomach acid and enzymes to further chop it up into tiny particles that we can absorb in our small intestine. If your stomach is not acidic enough, you are prone to more food-borne illnesses and you likely won’t assimilate b-vitamins as well. If your pancreas doesn’t release enough enzymes, you may have trouble breaking down proteins. If these peptides make their way to your small intestine, you end up with gas, bloating, or other digestive distress.  Shew-wee! There’s a lot going on in our body underneath our awareness SO, What are some things we can do to ACTIVELY improve digestion naturally? 1- Take Part In Food Preparation OK, so if digestion starts happening chemically before we even eat, doesn’t it make sense this should be an active part of the meal? Take time to smell the food as it is cooking, aesthetically plate your colorful veggies, and mindfully participate in the prep. If you’re on the run, or grabbing takeout, even just a few moments of pause before digging in can be beneficial. Say a note of gratitude, take in the aroma, and appreciate the beauty of the meal before you.  2- Distraction Free Eating One of the worst things you can do for your digestive health is try to accomplish other tasks while eating. Turn the TV OFF, put the phone down, and schedule a work break to eat. As I mentioned, your BRAIN is involved in the digestive process; so don’t hinder its role! When you’re not distracted while eating, you also tend to better connect with your hunger and fullness cues.  3 – Avoid Liquids at Meal Time You know that old “weight loss hack” to guzzle a glass of water before your meal to make you feel full?: Don’t Do This! When you drink water close to meal time, you dilute your stomach contents. Therefore, you have less potent stomach acid and enzymes (remember how important those are?!). If you’re consuming liquids while you’re eating, you also tend to poorly chew your food and reach for the liquid to ‘wash it down’. Try to consume your water and other liquids at least 30 minutes before or after meals.  4 – Chew Your Food The simplest ‘hack’ for better digestion is really just to do a better job of chewing your food. Have you ever counted your chews? Most people chew less than 7 times before swallowing. Aim for closer to 30! It feels strange and a little silly at first, so practice at home (while mindfully eating). Putting your fork down between bites is another cue to help you spend more time on each bite rather than rushing through your meal.  Related: Dietary Fiber: Understanding Soluble vs Insoluble Fiber How to Improve Digestion with Digestive Enzymes, Probiotics, and Other Supplements If you’ve got the above habits in place, and still need a little help with digestion, there are certain supplements that can help. Most are tailored to a specific need (re: Enzymes for certain proteins; Probiotics for diarrhea vs constipation; etc). If you need help figuring out the best supplement plan for you, schedule a consult with me.  1- Digestive Enzymes There are a number of different types of digestive enzymes. A general enzyme contains Amylase, Lipase, and Proteases to break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins in your food. These are the same enzymes that your pancreas releases, they just give you an extra dose. Always take these WITH meals so they have food to act on. Some enzyme formulas also contain HCL or Betaine. These compounds make your stomach more acidic and can be very helpful for individuals who have chronically low stomach acid. There are various reasons for this including H.Pylori, Chronic PPI use, and autoimmune conditions. 2 – Specific Enzymes For those who are intolerant or sensitive to certain foods, you can take specific enzymes to breakdown those foods. The classic example is Lactase for those with Lactose Intolerance. (In fact, most “lactose free” products simply have the enzyme added). You can also take Gluten Enzymes for gluten sensitivity or Casein Enzymes for milk protein allergies.  3 – Probiotics Probiotics are strain specific. Meaning, each strain is helpful for different concerns. Taking a Lactobacillus Species can improve tolerance to dairy. Taking Sacchromyces Boulardii can be very helpful for diarrhea. L.Reuteri is a fantastic strain for improving overall gut health by changing the microbiome.  4 – Gut Soothing Supplements For acute gas, bloating, or stomach pain you can take herbal remedies to help calm and soothe the intestinal lining. Slippery Elm, Aloe Vera, and Marshmallow Root are all carminative herbs that improve gastrointestinal symptoms. If gut issues become chronic, you likely need a Gut Healing Protocol to correct underlying dysfunction. However, these supplements can also be used on

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Things to KNow before starting an Elimination Diet

5 Things to Know Before Starting an Elimination Diet

Before starting an Elimination Diet, here are some key things to know. The Elimination Diet is a powerful therapeutic tool for better understanding a personal nutrition strategy. It can help you reduce inflammation, restore your microbiome, uncover food intolerances, and live a more balanced life.  In my opinion, the most valuable part of the “diet” is the reintroduction phase. So often, we want to rush through this phase. We get to Day 31 of a 30-Day-Challenge and BAM! Pizza! MacNCheese! Nachos! All at once, we add things back in and we don’t actually take the time to learn WHAT foods work and which ones don’t.  So, I created The Elimination Diet Guide to help you see the big picture: what happens after you’re done eliminating things? What are you looking for as you reintroduce? I want you to be successful and fulfilled in this diet and ultimately find an eating strategy that works FOR YOU.  Thinking you’re ready? – Here are FIVE things to know before starting an Elimination Diet.  Related: Mindful Eating: Finding a Healthy Relationship with Food 5 Things to Know Before Starting an Elimination Diet… 1 – Plan Ahead Don’t jump into the diet simply thinking, “OK, I’ll cut out X,Y,Z for 30 Days and then see how I feel”. Instead, look at the journey from start to finish. Lay out exactly how reintroductions will go, and set your mindset to include that in your “diet timeline”. I think two months is more realistic for the Elimination/Reintroduction. That means 14 days of strict elimination, and beginning to add things in on Day 15. When you’re constantly reintroducing foods, you get novelty and avoid diet fatigue.  It can be helpful to take a serious look at your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer ahead of time. Are there things that will tempt you to ‘cheat’? Do you have plenty of nutritious, approved, satisfying foods? Set yourself up for success by looking ahead and stocking up on foods that will support the diet.  <<Sneak Peak: Click here to preview the Phase II Shopping List + Snacks>> 2 – This is the Gold Standard. Why not do a food sensitivity test? Because the Elimination Diet is the gold standard in determining food allergies/intolerances and sensitivities. A blood test (or other methods) is recognizably unreliable. If you have a Leaky Gut, you will flag for MANY foods that may or may not be problematic for you. If you have an Autoimmune Disease, you are likely to react to a great number of food proteins!  There isn’t a shortcut here. It’s best to put in the effort to do it right the first time, rather than go back and repeat the process when results are confusing.  It can be pretty challenging to sort through Elimination Diets, YES/NO Lists, and other resources available on the internet: They are all so different. How do you decide if the Whole30 or the AIP or the Low-FODMAP or the GAPS Diet is appropriate?!  The Elimination Diet Guide uses elements from all of the above and gives you a clearer picture of exactly what NOT to eat as well as what to EAT. I’ve done the work for you of compiling what I believe to be the broad-spectrum of trigger foods and systematically challenging them.  3 – This is not a weight loss diet. When you replace the Standard American Diet with real, whole, nutritious foods you may find that weight loss is a great side effect. However, it is NOT the focus of an Elimination Diet. Instead, this is a therapeutic eating plan meant to help you resolve inflammation, fix your gut, and minimize negative symptoms that may be attributed to your eating patterns (fatigue, brain fog, mood issues, acne, and more).  There is no restriction on calories, eating windows, or portions. It is a chance for you to get in tune with your body and honor what it is telling you. I provide Sample Meal Plans and Recipes as a starting point; but you’re free to add-in extra snacks and meals as needed. Forget your preconceived notions of the word “DIET” and think of this more as a NUTRITION STRATEGY for better health.  >>Skip The Rest and Check out The ELIMINATION DIET GUIDE<< 4 – This is easier than you think. Often, taking on a new diet can be a major lifestyle overhaul. Starting an Elimination Diet does not have to be that way. (Assuming you follow #1: Plan Ahead) When you focus on all the amazing things you CAN eat, it feels exciting!  Remind yourself of your “WHY” behind the diet. Is it worth devoting 60-days of change in order to minimize your main symptoms? Will you really regret it?  One of the best tips before taking on the Elimination Diet is talk about it! Ask your friends and family for their opinion; I bet you find you have a lot of people willing to support you. Social events, family dinners, and travel plans are not a reason to give up. Use those times as a chance to empower yourself and those around you about PUTTING YOUR HEALTH FIRST.  You will not be eating this way forever, and there will likely be a time in your life that you eat a slice of pizza.  5 – You may find out more than you want. I can guarantee you’re going to learn about yourself through The Elimination Diet. You’ll learn your habits, your priorities, and maybe a little more than you wanted to about your nutrition. Spend some time considering that. What happens if you do the Elimination Diet and uncover that something like ALMONDS are a culprit triggering your migraines? Are you willing to admit when certain foods you LOVE are also bringing you down?  Reframe it as awareness. If you do the diet and discover unpleasant food sensitivities, there’s no one that is checking up on you and giving you a lashing if you slip up. Instead, it’s about having the power.  “I KNOW

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