Some Steps towards a Healthy Gut

healthy gutYour digestive system is of major importance to your general health and wellbeing. It is in your stomach and intestines that most of the work of turning your food into fuel and nourishment takes place. It is a very complicated process involving enzymes, acids, good bacteria and peptides and if they are not in balance all sorts of problems occur.

Most of our chronic problems such as joint and muscle pain, skin conditions, chronic fatigue, allergies, sleep problems, general immune dysfunctions and even mood swings and emotional issues can be linked back to disturbances in your gut. In my own personal experience, I know now that my chronic back pain was totally due to an inflamed gut, caused by food allergies and digestive problems.

One in five people these days suffer from ‘Irritable Bowel Syndrome’, IBS, which is the name given to a functional disorder of the bowel. A bowel that does not function properly, or one that is ‘irritated’. It is a classification for a number of irksome conditions with similar symptoms that seem difficult to diagnose and impossible to treat, such as spastic colon, mucous colitis or non-inflammatory bowel disease. It covers an array of symptoms including pain, diarrhoea or constipation, bloating and wind, heartburn nausea and occasionally vomiting.

These gut symptoms are often accompanied by frequent weight fluctuations, headaches, back pain, fatigue, teeth grinding, painful menstrual periods in the case of women and even anxiety and depression.

It is not always easy to work out the cause of your problem because it is seldom just one thing. Invariably there are a number of causes including sensitivities, ‘leaky gut syndrome, low stomach acid, low digestive enzymes, candida and parasites. Only by diagnosing your own particular issues will you be able to find an effective cure.

So here is one of the most likely culprits of poor digestion:-

FOOD SENSITIVITES

The one thing that passes through the intestine is food and if there is any inflammation or irritability in the gut it is quite possibly something to do with what you are eating. It is possible that we all have food sensitivities but it is only once they are triggered that they start to cause a problem. If everything in life is great, there are no stresses, no illnesses and good health, the body will cope. However if the immune system ‘drops’ for whatever reason, an illness, an accident, a stress, then it is quite likely that the food sensitivity will be triggered. So they are a very common cause of digestive problems and different to allergies in that they do not occur immediately after the food has been consumed but hours or days later and usually to foods that are eaten on a regular basis, such as wheat and dairy products, yeast, sugar, tea, coffee and chocolate. They can cause shifts in the bacterial population living in the bowel and allow harmful bacteria to take over.

How can you diagnose this?
You can do this at home with an elimination diet, starting with a very limited number of foods and then slowly re-introducing foods one by one to see what reaction you get. Or at The Wyndham Centre we can test you on a Vega machine to find out which foods your body doesn’t like.

What to do next:
Once you know what your sensitivities are you want to eliminate them from your diet for 2 months and you can even go a step further and try the Stone Age diet which cuts out all dairy, grains, sugars, processed foods, and red meat. This will detox the gut and give it a rest from the allergens, proteins, fats and sugars that trigger problems and allow harmful bacteria to multiply.

There are certain foods that cause inflammation the main one being sugar, which can be found in all processed foods, and of course many people add it to their tea and coffee. However sugar is not just added sugar as we know it, it is any substance with a high glycaemic index and disturbs the insulin balance of your body.

High glycaemic foods are carbohydrates that are digested, absorbed and turned into sugar quickly and therefore raise your blood sugar levels equally quickly. So any sugar or food or any substance out of which the body can make sugar, directly affects your insulin balance.
What you can eat is fish, and white meat, legumes, and fruit and vegetables of every variety as long as they haven’t come up on your sensitivity list. When you start to re-introduce foods after a couple of months, keep off those that you know you are sensitive to and also the processed and junk foods.

Once the foods you are sensitive to have been out of the diet for a while, and this varies with each individual depending on your tolerance level and digestion, it may be that they can be put back into the diet. This can be done in small amounts once or twice a week and the body appears to cope. However it is worth working on the digestive system as well to improve the immune system in the gut and the digestion itself.

The next culprit coming soon…..

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