TGI Food For Thought Friday, Folks!
Why should you care about good digestive health? Well, if you consider that 60-80 percent of your immune system is in your gut, then making sure your digestion is functioning in tip top shape is paramount.
Here are typical signs and symptoms that your digestion may be less than optimal: Belching, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, chronic inflammation. And note the signs of chronic inflammatory condition can range from acne and other skin conditions, to mood swings, to joint pain, etc. In short, there is a whole slew of physical, mental, and emotional indicators that our gut may be out of whack.
But adopting a Real Food lifestyle is a giant step in the right direction towards healing, nurturing and sustaining a healthy digestive system.
Of course, the cornerstone of a Real Food lifestyle is eliminating processed and refined foods. The primary "bad guys" are food products with refined grains, refined oils, added sugars, and unhealthy ingredients (chemical names that you can't pronounce and have no idea what they are). Eliminate these first. You can take Baby Steps or "rip off the band-aid" with The 21-Day Sugar Detox. Or chart your own course at your own pace.
But know that healing gut health issues can take a long time. Particularly if you've suffered from a condition for a while. So practice the 3 P's -- Perspective, Patience, and Persistence. When you consider how long you have been suffering, spending a year or so to "right the ship", may not seem all that long.
Here are 5 Steps that can help heal your gut:
1. Conduct a food audit. Here's an article that discusses how to do this 👉🏽 A Picture of Progress. Many folks tell me: "I don't eat a lot of processed foods". But remember that 74% of food sold in stores are spiked with added sugar 👉🏽 Mental Shifts. So unless you are aware of this, AND you are making a concerted effort to avoid sugar-spiked and other processed foods. It really is hard to KNOW how much processed food is sneaking into your daily life.
And this mindset (of denial) can be a barrier to starting your Real Food journey. A food audit will help assess where you truly are on the "I don't eat a lot of processed food" scale 😉 So if you are suffering from a gut health issue, do yourself a favor and conduct a food audit. Just to be sure that processed food is not a staple food in your diet.
2. READ and RELY on the Ingredients Labels!!! I know, this is not a new suggestion. But similar to the "I don't eat a lot of processed food" claim, I hear people say "This [fill-in-the-blank] food is not very processed." Or "This [fill-in-the-blank] food is healthy."
When what they are really relying on to make this claim are the marketing or advertising or maybe even nutrition labels that boasts some nice "healthy" looking numbers.
Don't rely on "what you think you know" about a product because of what it says on the front of the package or on its numbers. The truth is in the Ingredients 👉🏽 Hidden Sugars and Ingredient Labels. And honestly, do you really understand that nutrition label. How quickly can you do the math to appreciate the servings you'll realistically need to eat and feel satisfied with that meal?
Look -- we can all read, right? So make this easy on yourself and just read the ingredients.
Before I buy any new product, I always read the "Ingredients Label" and rarely read the "Nutrition Label". Not that I don't care about nutrition. But because I follow sound Real Food practices, I don't feel the need to micromanage my nutrient intake. Moreover, by reading the "Ingredients Label" first, I eliminate most nutrient-deficient foods.
3. Limit or eliminate legumes (beans), including soy, particularly unfermented soy products. Now I know many consider beans healthy. But legumes are rich in antinutrients that interfere with the absorption of nutrients contained in the legumes, itself. And the majority of soy in the diet comes from the refined products that are processed from the soybeans.
4. Eating probiotic foods regularly: Probiotics provide your digestive system with good bacteria that helps keep everything in balance. Good food sources include sauerkraut, kimchi, other fermented veggies, kombucha, and yogurt or kefir made from raw, grass-fed milk.
5. Eating good sources of soluble fiber: These feed the good bacteria that will improve your digestion. Good sources are sweet potatoes, plantains, butternut squash, or any other veggie, root, or tuber, with a starchy flesh. But be sure to remove the skin on the veggies, as this contains insoluble fiber that is difficult to digest.
If you have gut issues. Or even if you have a healthy gut and want to keep it that way. Commit to a Real Food lifestyle and continue to make progress towards your goal of lifelong health!