With the gut playing a key role in our digestive, cognitive, mental and immune health, it’s no wonder optimizing our digestion and finding healthy nutrition-centered solutions to care and heal our gut is always a hot topic.
Why you need to care for your gut:
Our body is a marvel of interconnected systems. Although they have a specific life-sustaining function, our bodily systems are closely linked to each other. Usually if something is off in one part of our body, other areas follow suit.
With your digestive system in particular, any gut issues such as malabsorption, inadequate enzyme secretion, or having an irritable bowel, you can be sure that the rest of your body responds to these issues such as experiencing anxiety, weight problems, blood sugar imbalances, hyperacidity, candida, and a dampened immune system. These are just to name a few issues that stem from an unhealthy gut.
Needless to say, a healthy functioning gut is integral to your overall health and quality of life.
With the goal of having a healthy gut in mind, follow this simple holistic guide to clean up your diet and keep your gut microbiome thriving by removing what’s harmful to your body and swapping it for something that will nourish and restore instead.
1. Let go of negative thoughts and think happy
The gut brain connection is fascinating because they directly influence each other.
Think about it, have you ever had a gut feeling, felt butterflies when you were nervous, nauseous when you were stressed? There’s a reason for this; gut health is very sensitive when it comes to emotions, and emotions are sensitive to our gut health. If you’re having gut issues with no physical cause, consider your emotions to be the culprit. Learn to let go and manage negative emotions accordingly and choose and/or focus on more positive feelings.
Swap stress, sadness, and anxiety for happiness, calmness, and a sense of centeredness to keep your gut happy and balanced as well.
2. Cut out allergens and find alternatives
Whether consuming dairy sends you to the bathroom, eating bread gives you brain fog, or having soy gives you headaches, many people (sometimes unknowingly) have a form of food intolerance or allergy. Fortunately, gut issues such as celiac disease and irritable bowel syndrome have paved the way for more awareness, lifestyle practices, and food alternatives in response to heal and manage these gut issues which can be caused and/or exacerbated by food intolerances.
Take a moment to be more mindful of how you feel after eating to rule out any food intolerances. If you feel tired, nauseous, lethargic, experience stomach pain, etc. you’re likely to have trouble digesting a certain type of food. Stop harming your gut and opt for these alternatives to common food intolerances:
- Swap milk for non-dairy alternatives such as almond milk, coconut milk and rice milk.
- Swap peanuts for almonds or cashews or even sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds if you’re allergic to all nuts.
- Swap gluten-containing grains such as wheat, spelt, and bulgur for gluten-free grains such as rice, quinoa (technically a pseudo grain/seed), and sorghum.
- Swap soy products such as soy sauce and soy milk for tamari and seed and/or nut milk.
3. Ditch artificial foods and consume more whole foods
If there’s one diet that’s applicable and beneficial to any person regardless of health, age, gender etc. it would be a wholefoods diet. This simply means eating all or most foods in its unprocessed, unaltered form.
This covers fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, free-range eggs, pasture raised-meat, and whole grains. Simply put, single-ingredient foods that are eaten in its most natural form.
Our modern world gives us all the instant conveniences to keep up with our on-the-go lifestyles. Unfortunately, many of these conveniences are detrimental to our health, namely being processed and packed foods which contain, for a variety of economic reasons, artificial additives, preservatives, chemicals and fillers. Often these ingredients are linked to increasing the chances of lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes, hormonal imbalances, cancer, heart disease, etc.
Although it takes commitment to eliminate processed foods all together, here are a few simple and healthy swaps you can make that your health will thank you for:
- Swap candy and other sweet treats for fresh fruit.
- Swap fast food take out for freshly made home-cooked food
- Swap white rice and white bread for brown rice and wholegrain/multigrain bread
- Swap store-bought salad dressing for homemade dressing
- Swap margarine for butter or olive oil spread
- Swap low fat dairy products for full fat
The exciting thing about cleaning up your diet by focusing on eating wholefoods and cutting down or eliminating on processed foods is all the feel-good benefits that come from eating simple, clean and natural ingredients. A whole foods diet should be the foundation of any healthy lifestyle.