Step #2 – Identify and Eliminate Food Sensitivities and Allergies to Improve Your Gut Health
It’s becoming more and more common for people to suffer from food sensitivities, and that affects their gut health. On a very simple level, food sensitivities and allergies can cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea or constipation. They can cause skin irritation like acne or eczema, and on a more serious level, they can also cause inflammation, malnutrition, and even depression or neurological symptoms.
The key to identifying if you have any sensitivity is to go on an elimination diet. It’s not as difficult as it sounds. In fact, it’s pretty simple. You eliminate the most common allergens from your diet for two weeks. You then gradually add them back into your diet one by one and assess your gut health; simply ask yourself how you feel. In a few days you will most likely begin to feel a bit better which will reinforce your efforts and help you stay on the path for the two weeks.
Common irritants include gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs, peanuts and sugar. Consider keeping a journal to help you identify signs of sensitivity. Elimination diets aren’t difficult to manage with good planning, and they can be invaluable to help you identify foods that are making you sick.
Step #3 Balance the Bacteria
As previously mentioned, there are millions of bacteria in your gut, and the vast majority of these bacteria are essential for your good health and more specifically for your good gut health. When we’re in our mother’s uterus, we’re free from bacteria. The process of being born immediately exposes us to bacteria.
Scientists believe that the first few months of life essentially set the tone for the types of bacteria in and around our body. They call it the “Microbial cloud.” We each have a somewhat unique cloud based on the home and family we’re born into – we are exposed to our parents’ bacteria, and thus theirs become our bacteria.
Environmental influences and the food we eat can then tip the scale and support good gut health, or it can deplete the good bacteria in our gut and cause health problems.
You can keep your healthy bacteria in check by:
- Cutting back on sugar – Bad bacteria thrive on sugar, so reducing it, or much more preferably cutting it out of your diet will help.
- Getting more fiber in your diet – We’re back to whole foods including fruit, vegetables, and legumes. Fiber helps move material through your system and creates a healthy environment for good bacteria to thrive.
- Adding prebiotics to your diet – Prebiotics are nutrients that help create a healthy environment for good bacteria. They’ve been shown to reduce gastrointestinal diseases as well as improve digestion and absorption. While there are now supplement forms of prebiotics, the best sources are natural food sources. Onions, leeks, garlic, green leafy vegetables and legumes can be excellent sources of prebiotics.
- Add probiotics to your diet – Probiotics are actual organisms that impact digestion and help you enjoy good gut health. You can obtain probiotics by eating fermented foods, eating yogurt or cultured foods, and by taking supplements. Common probiotics include:
- Bifidobacterium lactis
- Lactobacillus reuteri
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus
- Lactobacillus casei
If you’re adding probiotics to your diet via supplementation, take care to add them slowly. Adding too much, too quickly can cause digestive problems including nausea. We want you to feel better, not to create another challenge, so add any supplementation with probiotics gradually.
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