What is digestive wellness?
Recently, I listened to interviews with 25 digestive experts in functional medicine. Each speaker explained a different approach to fixing digestive issues, different from the techniques normally seen in medicine today. Sean Croxton ran these interviews, and it was very enlightening!
Our GI system is our “second brain.” It actually produces about 90% of our bodies serotonin and houses 2/3 of our immune system.
So I am going to share with you my Top 8 Insights from these interviews.
Digestive wellness tips
1. Chew your food! Almost every expert said chewing food thoroughly will lead to better digestion. This is because we have enzymes in our mouths that break down food before they even enter the stomach. Give it a try! Eat slowly and chew your food before swallowing.
2. Eat Mindfully. This goes along with Tip #1. When you are eating a meal, sit down at the table (without your phone, laptop or TV!!), take a few deep breaths, and begin eating slowly. Make sure to chew your food and take breaks in between a few bites. Eating like this and in a relaxing environment fires up digestion to help our GI work a little bit better.
3. Consider taking probiotics. Probiotics are the “good guys” in our guts. We have a symbiotic relationship with them. We help them out by giving them a place to live and they help us out by keeping us healthy. Probiotics may not work for everyone, but it is definitely something to consider taking to see if digestive issues resolve. An RD or doctor can help you figure out which probiotic is the best to take. Not all are created equal!
4. Stress Less. Okay, this one is easier said than done. But most, if not all, of the experts stressed (no pun intended) the relationship between stress and GI distress. We tend to digest better when we are relaxed. Use the Social Readjustment Rating Scale to see how stressed you may be in your life. Then, practice self care!
Activity to improve digestive wellness
5. Get Moving. Go outside and take a “Leisure Walk.” Enjoy your surroundings. This helps to balance the nervous system and the enteric system (our second brain!). Have you heard of the enteric system? It is actually a fancy name for how your gut and brain are connected. Want to read more about your gut-brain connection? Take a look at our instagram post here.
This can also help with constipation issues. Remember, the best exercise for you is the kind you like.
Anti-inflammation is key to digestive wellness
6. Combating inflammation. What is inflammation? It’s when a part of our bodies becomes reddened and swollen as a reaction to injury or infection. Too much inflammation in our bodies causes all kind of digestive issues. Certain foods may trigger inflammation in different people due to sensitivities. It’s important to get tested for these sensitivities. RBA offers LEAP testing, check out more information here.
7. The Low FODMAP Diet. Studies are showing that a diet low in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAPs for short) may alleviate IBS symptoms. The idea is to cut out all foods in FODMAPs and then reintroduce certain categories one by one to see what specifically bothers your GI. Everyone has a different tolerance to these FODMAPs so the key is finding what works for you. An RD is here to help you solve your GI mystery!
8. Consult a Professional. If you suffer from digestive issues, there is treatment! A team of experts in digestion will be able to assist you. Consulting a Registered Dietitian will provide you the support you need to figure out what foods may be good for your digestive health. They can also look at patterns in your everyday diet to see where you might be able to make changes to liberate your GI symptoms.
Call us at 301-474-2499 or contact us here and we can help you with nutrition recommendations for digestive health.
Blog updated May 2020
As a certified LEAP therapist, Dietitian Kathleen can help you solve your digestive difficulties with cutting edge research and state of the art protocols. Co-author of Cooking with Food Sensitivities Survival Guide.