Taste of Health Francesca Ballicu | 5 years ago

Tune Into Your Tummy

Five ways to rebalance your intestinal health after the holidays. 

“All disease begins in the gut.” – Hippocrates This quote is more than 2,000 years old, but it still holds true today. Research over the past two decades has revealed that an imbalanced gut contributes to a host of diseases, including diabetes, obesity, autoimmune disorders, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome. “The digestive system is very important to the human body because it’s primarily responsible for the absorption of nutrients to keep our bodies healthy,” says Duane Moise, DO, gastroenterologist at Carolinas HealthCare System Digestive Health. After the holidays, it’s especially important to focus on gut health. Chances are, you’ve been indulging in way too much sugar, salt and trans fat – all of which throws your digestive system out of whack. Here’s how to get back on track:

1. Fill Up on Fiber

Eating high-fiber plant foods every day in the form of fruits, veggies, beans and nuts and seeds is key to maintaining a healthy gut. These so-called “prebiotic foods” encourage a diverse microbiome inside your GI tract and are rich in the types of fiber that beneficial gut bacteria thrive on. The best veggies for gut health are rich in anti-inflammatory magnesium and other important minerals. These include: Leafy green veggies like kale, spinach and Swiss chard, avocado, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant and artichokes. The best fruits for gut health have a balanced glucose-to-fructose ratio, which may be easier on your intestines than those with more fructose. These include: Bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe and honeydew melons, pineapple, papaya, oranges, strawberries, raspberries and grapes.

2. Avoid Trans Fats

Trans fats (or trans fatty acids) have been linked to numerous health issues, including diabetes, heart disease and inflammation. Hydrogenated vegetable oils are the biggest source of trans fats, and they’re found in many processed foods, including ketchup, salad dressings, pasta sauces and the biggest culprit: fast food. The best way to avoid them is to read labels, and choose real butter over margarine and olive oil or coconut oil instead of harmful vegetable oils. Cook at home as often as possible so you know exactly what’s going into your family’s meals.

3. Take a Probiotic

Probiotics provide live strains of good bacteria to help bolster your intestinal defenses. You can find a variety of high-quality probiotic supplements online and in health food stores – depending on the brand, they come in liquid, gummy and pill form. When picking a probiotic, choose one that’s labeled “multi-species” or “multi-strain” for the best results. You can also eat your way to healthier stomach flora by ingesting fermented foods like kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles. Drink kombucha, a popular fermented tea, for an added probiotic boost.

4. Reduce Red Meat & Processed Meat Consumption

Eating too much red and processed meat such as hamburger, steak and sodium-packed deli meats and hot dogs creates an inflammatory response in the gut, disrupting the delicate bacteria balance and leading to bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation. You don’t have to cut out meat entirely, but do try to adhere to Meatless Monday and consider modifying your favorite recipes by replacing red meat with mushrooms marinated in balsamic vinegar and olive oil since both the taste and texture is similar to very tender beef.

5. Stay Hydrated

Water, water and more water! Up to 70% of the human body is water, so it makes sense that staying hydrated is one of the best ways to heal it – especially the gut, which requires H20 to help keep the intestines lubricated and move waste through the body for elimination. Have a hard time drinking plain water? Create a flavor fusion by slicing up lemons, cucumbers, mint leaves and strawberries or raspberries and throwing them in a large pitcher to soak overnight. Not only will it taste like the most amazing spa water you’ve ever had, but the added nutrient boost will brighten your skin and help to further detox the body. Watch a video about gut health here to learn more about how your digestive system affects your overall wellbeing.  Do you wish you had a community to inspire you and support the choices you make to improve your family’s nutrition habits? Now you do. Join the conversation, or start your own, using #TasteOfHealth.