Five Steps to Good Gut Health – Part 1 of 2
I want to share five different steps over the next two weeks that you can implement today to help you enjoy good gut health. Each of these steps independently will have a significant impact on your overall mental and physical well being, as they are intricately linked.
Attempting to adopt too many steps into your lifestyle at once can feel overwhelming. My experience with my coaching clients is that too much at once tends to discourage people from moving forward. I want you to take it easy on yourself, and focus on one step at a time. Set goals, create a plan and give yourself several weeks to make each step a habit and part of your daily routine. Some steps will be easier and will resonate with you more than will others.
Always remember you don’t have to be 100% perfect all the time. Aim for progress, not perfection! For example, if one step is to get eight hours of sleep each night and you only get five hours of sleep tonight, that isn’t a sign of failure nor is it a signal to give up.
Don’t let setbacks get you off track. Good health and well being are a lifelong pursuit, not an overnight achievement.
Here is the first step towards good gut health – it may be the most difficult yet the most powerful step you can take for your health.
Step #1 – Eat Whole, Unprocessed Foods
Busy lives mean that many of us turn to foods that are quick and easy to eat. We eat boxes of cereal, frozen pizzas and food that comes in a can. These foods are highly processed. The nutrients are often seriously depleted, and fat, sugar, salt and chemicals are added to make them taste better.
These processed foods can wreak havoc in your gut. Not only are the chemicals detrimental to the bacteria in your gut – the fat, sugar, and sodium levels cause digestive issues which trigger inflammation which over time will result in chronic disease and premature aging.
Whole foods are foods that have little or no processing. We’re talking about foods that don’t come in bags or boxes but rather as nature created them. Meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are examples of whole foods. One rule of thumb that makes it easier for some people to differentiate between whole and processed foods is to ask the question, “Did your great grandmother eat this?” Processed foods are a relatively new commodity and one towhich our ancestors did not have access.
The key to eating this way is to plan ahead. Make time to cook, even if it’s on the weekends, and stick to the produce section when you’re shopping! Whole foods can be quick and easy too. For example, you might hard boil a dozen eggs on Sunday and have hard boiled eggs and a piece of fruit for breakfast during the week. That’s faster than a run through the fast food drive through and better for you than a bowl of sugary cereal!
Why whole foods? There are many reasons, but one of the main reasons is the fiber they provide. Fiber helps the good bacteria in your gut thrive. It also reduces any bad bacteria by moving material through your system in an effective and efficient way. When material is allowed to sit in your gut, the bad bacteria have an opportunity to thrive. That’s when the lining of your digestive system can become irritated and inflamed, and toxins can be produced.
Step #2 Identify and Eliminate Food Sensitivities and Allergies
It’s becoming more and more common for people to suffer from food sensitivities. Food sensitivities and allergies can cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea or constipation. They can also cause skin irritation like acne or eczema and inflammation, malnutrition, depression or neurological symptoms.
The key to identifying if you have any sensitivity is to go on an elimination diet. You simply eliminate the most common allergens from your diet for two weeks. Then gradually add them back into your diet one at a time and notice how you feel.
Here’s an example; corn is a common irritant. If you eliminate it for two weeks and then add it back into your diet, you might get a headache. That’s a sign of sensitivity.
Common irritants include gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs and nuts. 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.
Check back soon for Steps 3-5 that are key to good gut health!
Helping You Achieve Major Wellness in Your Life!
Cheryl A Major, CNWC
I’m Cheryl A Major, a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, and I’m dedicated to teaching others the way to better mental and physical health by learning a few simple principles of clean eating. Get started right away here at http://ThinStrongHealthy.com and you’ll be on your way to your own health revolution!