It may not seem that important initially, but improving your digestion is perhaps THE most important thing you can do for your health. Digestive complaints and issues related or exacerbated by poor digestions are probably the primary concern when I consult with my clients. They often don’t actually come to me saying that this is the case (they usually just have a list of symptoms including anything from headaches to fatigue) but upon further assessment, digestive disorders are often the main cause, or at the very least, contributing to the problem.
Why is it so important?
Think about this; your body does not produce most of the nutrients it needs to survive. It has to obtain these ‘essential’ nutrients from the diet. So, if you have a poor diet full of processed packaged foods, white sugar, table salt, poor quality meats, processed, rancid fats and oils then you can pretty sure that your body is not getting the nutrients it needs to run optimally. In fact, if you are eating this way, you could be eating many foods that take more nutrients FROM your body then they actually give back.
BUT, consider this, What if you are like the many people that come to see me, and think that they are eating pretty well and STILL not enjoying optimal health?
It could be that you are actually eating reasonably well but, for whatever reason, your body just is not digesting your food properly. If you are not digesting your food, you are not assimilating the nutrients and therefore, you are not gaining the benefits.
“You are NOT what you eat, you ARE what you digest and assimilate!”
(Ok, its not as catchy as the old version but its much more accurate!)
If you are suffering with any of the issues below, you may find that following my 5 tips to improve your digestion will actually help remove some of your other symptoms:
- Abdominal bloating/cramps/Indigestion/Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Problems with Concentration/Cognition/Learning/retaining information
- Problems with mood, depression, anger or irritability
- Undesired weight gain or weight loss (or problems gaining muscle mass no matter how hard you seem to workout in the gym)
- hormonal imbalances such as chronic fatigue, hypo-thyroid, adrenal fatigue, sexual/reproductive dysfunctions and more….
Now you have an idea of some of the problems that poor digestion can cause, here are my 5 tips for improving your digestion, and therefore, your health.
Before you begin to implement any of these modifications, you may want to try and evaluate your current health in a journal. Write down any symptoms you are currently experiencing, how you feel in terms of your energy levels throughout the day, how you sleep, your bodyweight and measurements, and, for females experiencing any menstrual or hormonal irregularities, your mood, pain, cycle length etc both before and after implementing these changes
1 – Put out the fire – Remove potentially Inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, soy. These are the most common allergens and removing these for 21-30 days should give a good idea as to whether you may have an intolerance or allergy. Notice how you feel from week to week, note any changes in symptoms in a journal.
There are some other foods that have been linked in compounding digestive disorders. You may want to look at removing nuts and seeds due to their Phytic acid content. Some people also find that the nightshade family of vegetables can be a problem. These include Tomatoes, White Potatoes, Peppers (all kinds), and Eggplant (Aubergine to us Brits).
2 – Eat whole foods and remove processed, packaged foods, sugars and processed fats. Whole foods include organic pastured meats and poultry (or the best you can possibly afford) wild caught fish, organic vegetables. For higher starch Carbohydrate sources use sweet potato, Yam, Beets, Carrots, Squash.
3 – Eat more Fermented Foods and Broths. Traditional Fermented foods such as Sauerkraut and Kimchee help to provide beneficial bacteria to re-colonise or re-balance your gut flora. You can learn to make your own sauerkraut fairly easily or buy them from your local health food store or farmers market.
Regularly consume bone broths such as chicken, beef and Fish broth in order to help repair and restore the lining of the mucosal barrier and also provide other benefits. Learn how to make your own chicken broth here or purchase high quality organic bone broth from places such as my friend Chef Lance Roll at The Brothery.
4 – Reduce your stress! Listing your stressors is a very effective way to externalise your stressors and look at them from a more objective viewpoint. The overall term Stress includes stress from ALL sources, for example Mental emotional, financial, musculo-skeletal (pain), visceral (organs), environmental (chemicals, cleaning products, bodycare products etc). List everything you can think of, prioritise the main 2 or 3 that you feel are causing the most stress in each section, and then write down what you can do to help reduce the stress in each area.
For example, you are already reducing visceral stress by modifying your diet in this way. If you have muscle pain your task may be to see a sports massage therapist, CHEK Practitioner, or a trusted Personal Trainer, if your stress if financial make some suggestions on how to cut your expenditure or increase income without increasing stress in other areas.
5 – Supplement with Organic Aloe Vera Juice, L-Glutamine, and a high quality digestive enzyme. You can also use simple herbal teas to calm the digestive system. These include Liquorice, Peppermint, Ginger, Marshmallow Root. Many people are also highly Magnesium deficient so supplementing with Magnesium in either glycate or malate forms is a great idea.
I would love to hear about your results after trying out these tips. and dont forget to share this blog with your friends. You never know who it may be able to help.
If you would like to consult with Paul Smethurst about your own health challenges you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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