Sometimes the simple answer to “what should I do to improve my health?” is: “heal your gut”.
Winter is the season of colds & flu and spring, the season of allergies. Antibiotics and antihistamines; the medications of choice, may improve the respective symptoms but unfortunately also impair the digestive system. It is essential post-illness to restore gut health! A healthy gut not only ensures proper food absorption and nutrient assimilation but also provides the body’s first line of defence against future infection.
The following are 3 easy ways to help heal your digestive system:
1. Give Your Gut a REST
In order to heal, you need to give your digestive system a break! Quit the processed junk food, soy-based products, fizzy drinks, sugar, refined carbohydrates, grains, legumes, alcohol, coffee, gluten and dairy: All of which are hard to digest and add unnecessary strain on an already struggling system. Eat simply and cleanly. This means lots of salads, vegetables, sprouts, green superfood powders (wheatgrass, barleygrass etc), soaked nuts and seeds, fish, eggs and healthy fats together with small amounts of fruit and meat from grass-fed, hormone-free animals. Only drink pure water, coconut water, kombucha, green juices and herbal teas. Make sure you eat slowly and mindfully and that you chew your food properly. It may also be beneficial to take a full spectrum digestive enzyme supplement to take some of the pressure off of the gut.
Another way to give your gut a rest is to reduce stress. Conditions such as IBS, constipation, bloating, flatulence and acid reflux often afflict those who work extremely hard, are constantly too busy, have family problems, are under financial pressure or have experienced a traumatic event: External stressors that cause internal problems. If that’s you, now is a good time to take a mini vacation, sign up for a pilates or yoga class, practice deep breathing exercises, spend time in nature, sleep more, have a ‘technology-detox’… or whatever it is that will help you relax and de-stress!
2. RESTORE With Targeted Foods and Supplements
Once you’ve given your gut a well deserved rest, it’s time to restore what was damaged with targeted foods and supplements: Starting with bone broth! Yes, I know it sounds like a food from the stone-ages, but bone broth is simply home-made stock. It is so easy to make once you know how (see the recipe section on our website) and is packed FULL of nutrients. In particular, the protein gelatin, which helps heal and repair the gut lining, prevents harmful bacteria from adhering to the gut walls and inhibits infection. We recommend you drink a cup of bone broth a day to reap the most benefit. Next, is to include a teaspoon of Siberian pine nut oil on an empty stomach before meals. It contains pinolenic acid; an active fatty acid that helps heal the gastrointestinal lining, optimize digestion and improve nutrient absorption and assimilation.
In the supplement department the following 3 nutrients are all potent digestive healers:
- L-Glutamine, the most abundant amino acid in the human body, aids in tissue maintenance and repair, especially for the cells of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
- Aloe Vera provides soothing support for the digestive system. It can help relieve constipation and promotes internal, natural healing and regulation of the GI tract.
- Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice helps soothe and restore the gut by increasing the production of gastrointestinal mucosal cells. It also helps cleanse the colon, ease constipation and treat GI disorders such as colitis and diverticulosis.
3. REINOCULATE With Good Bacteria
In the diet department, this means include plenty of fermented and cultured foods such as sauerkraut, coconut yoghurt (see our website for recipe), kimchee, lacto-fermented pickles, certain cheeses (do your homework here), fermented beets (beet kvaas) and miso. Fermented foods are packed full of beneficial bacteria that help recolonise the gut. And not only are they delicious and can be eaten with any meal, they are also easy to digest, enhance nutrient bio-availability and even help get rid of anti-nutrients such as phytic acid (grains, beans, nuts and seeds). In terms of supplements, a good quality high-dose probiotic should be taken for a few weeks or until you feel your gut health has been restored.
It is also advisable to up the amount of ‘pre-biotic’ foods in your daily diet. These are literally foods that feed the beneficial bacteria in your GI tract and help them proliferate on their own. Foods that contain lots of natural pre-biotics include; asparagus, carrots, garlic, artichoke, leeks, onion, radishes, tomatoes, turmeric and cinnamon. Hate those foods!? Pre-biotics are also available in supplement form.
And That’s It!
When your digestive system is functioning at its optimum, you glow with health. Take the necessary steps to help heal your gut. Your weight, mood, mental clarity, and overall health will improve significantly in turn.