MONTH 3 OF OUR 6 MONTHS OF WELLNESS
In June, we started with the basis of health – AWARENESS – are we aware of what may or may not be working for us mentally, physically and/or emotionally in our lives and what needs to be changed.
In July, we then tapped into adrenal health, the main body system that kicks in under stress and how too much stress can “upset” the adrenals, driving you into stress duress.
This month, we focus on digestion and improving not just digesting what we eat but “absorbing” what we eat. We can eat all the healthiest foods in the world but if you aren’t digesting well, chances are, absorption of those foods isn’t happening either, leaving you nutrient deficient and leading to lower immunity. If you are in a constant state of stress, whether actual or perceived, you will have trouble digesting and absorbing. Therefore, we need to eat healthy AND manage stress in order to be healthy.
As you can see, each month of our “6 months of Wellness” is a foundation for the following month:
1) June – Awareness
2) July – Stress Management and Adrenal Health
3) August – Improving Digestion and Absorption
You may have heard that the seed of all disease starts in the gut. There is so much going on in the gut from breaking down food, digesting it, transporting nutrients one way and waste another, communicating with organs to help them with their functions, nervous system and mental communication, balancing flora etc. A lot can go wrong in the gut for many reasons.
When we digest well and absorb the nutrients in the food we eat, our cells become nourished and function normally, keeping us healthy and strong. Functioning normally means absorbing oxygen, water and nutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals and removing waste. With wear and tear, the gut can also develop more permeability, allowing more than just nutrients into the blood stream. There are small holes for nutrients to move through but these holes can get bigger when the stomach is irritated and larger protein molecules and chemicals can then sneak through where they shouldn’t, causing all kinds of grief. Leaky gut is one of the main sources of the following issues today:
– Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
– Food and Chemical Sensitivities
– Allergies leading to lung and skin conditions
– Unhealthy weight gain or loss
– Gas (Belching and Flatulence)
– Colitis and Crohn’s Disease
How do we repair a leaky and irritated gut?
Chances are there is dysbiosis present which means too much bad bacteria and too little good bacteria. The bad isn’t necessarily “bad” however the ratio of “friendly” versus “unfriendly” bacteria is off and it’s in a part of the stomach where it shouldn’t be. We all have numerous strains of bacteria residing in our gut and a healthy gut has about 20% unfriendly bacteria and 80% friendly bacteria. When the “bad” become higher in numbers than the “good”, wreaking havoc on digestion and health in general, the good or beneficial bugs weaken. The bad then take over and when too much stress is present, the stomach valve (ileocecal valve) becomes loose or weak and the bad bacteria can climb up into the small intestine (also known as SIBO – small intestine bacterial overgrowth; this type of bacteria is meant to be present only in the large intestine or colon). Uncomfortable symptoms can then present themselves such as gas, indigestion and an acidic environment that can attract other unhealthy pathogens.
Therefore, the first step is to REMOVE the unhealthy bacteria. How? We STARVE them. Don’t feed them the foods they thrive on:
• Refined Carbohydrates
• Undigested food
• Some sweet fruit
• Starches (potato, rice, wheat, corn)
Next the gut lining will need to be healed. With the reduction of bacteria from step 1, this will help prevent symptoms from worsening however there will be inflammation present that can be healed with:
• Intestinal repair supplementation with Glutamine
• Digestive enzymes to assist with digestion
• Fish oil (anti-inflammatory)
Relaxation exercises to calm the nervous system and improve digestion (also allows the body to heal where it needs healing the most) is extremely important. Avoid eating on the run or eating/taking supplements in a stressed state as this will impact absorption. Once in a while the body can cope but break the cycle if this has become a bad habit. It can also help to do some intermittent fasting such as a 12 hour fast daily until symptoms improve. For example, you would eat dinner at 6 and not eat again until 12 hours later (the next day at 10 am or after noon).
If you have had compromised digestion for some time or experiencing other health problems, you may need some antifungal supplements. Speak to a health practitioner first to be sure you are strong enough to handle one (there are many varieties and formulas) and to get the right supplement for you.
Put back the good bacteria with the help of good quality probiotics. There are many different varieties on the market and some formulas or strains are better for some, depending on the health condition present. You want one purchased from a refrigerator that’s 20 – 50 billion with a variety of strains to start. You can also incorporate more fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi (also purchased from a refrigerator). Sweetened kefir and yogurt will still feed unfriendly bacteria so leave this out for now. If you can tolerate and digest dairy well, plain yogurt is another source of good bacteria. My favorite personal fave is Krema brand Plain. I find it an awesome substitution for sour cream! You’ll want to eat foods as well that feed the beneficial bacteria such as leafy greens and the fibre from most vegetables.
Get those nutrients into your body! Maintain a diet of 80/20 whole foods with a focus on plant foods:
• Chamomile, Peppermint and Ginger teas are excellent for digestion and assisting with symptoms from indigestion
• Low fructose foods such as avocado, beets, broccoli, grapefruit, rhubarb, cauliflower
• Use fresh Ginger and spices such as turmeric, dill and mint
• Cabbage (coleslaw, cabbage rolls – cabbage is excellent for easing an inflamed gut)
• Small amounts of organic beef and chicken
• Leafy greens (romaine, spinach, kale, swiss chard)
• Non starchy grains such as quinoa, millet, buckwheat, small amounts of brown rice
• Small amounts of legumes such as chickpeas, black beans, lentils
• Sprouted nuts and seeds (easier to digest when sprouted or soaked and then dehydrated)
• Tofu and tempeh
If you are vegetarian or vegan, you may need to supplement with iron and B12. There are so many diets out there today: vegetarian, vegan, keto, sibo and the list gets higher each year. No one diet works for everyone and the best diet is customized to fit your individual needs and health condition but also based on what you “ENJOY” eating. You can indulge cravings, just with some tweaks or substitutions most of the time. 20% of the time just enjoy. When we limit ourselves too much, this can lead to binging and then feelings of guilt which definitely does not help digestion or healing. Withholding the foods we love can also lead to irritability due to the feeling of “lack” or the void feeling of not having something. Listen to your body, enjoy and then just be extra diligent for a few days after. Moderation, balance, happiness and satisfaction all lead to better digestion and mental health.
If you are experiencing food sensitivities, you may need to be a little stricter until inflammation reduces and health improves. There are many options nowadays for substitutions and a holistic nutritionist can help you design a program and specific diet just for you.
Breathwork and gentle activity aids digestion especially long walks in fresh air.
Different types of breathing can expand the diaphragm and rib cage to create more room in the front line of the body so things move easier within the digestive tract. Yoga and exercises performed slowly and mindfully will calm and soothe the nervous system which also impacts digestion. This will also help reduce the stress response/reaction.
Movements from osteopathy and massage therapy on the stomach can invigorate a lazy digestive tract.
Liver Cleansing Coleslaw – provided by Alive Magazine
Healthy Digestion Muffins – provided by Alive Magazine
This month’s winner is Shelly George.
Please enjoy a complimentary salt therapy room session! Redeemable for the next three months!