Imagine being in a personal training session or a Pilates class. You do the instructed roll up and rip one. Gas is embarrassing. It can keep you from doing the exercise that will help reduce it. It can be more than irritating. It might be a sign of bacteria imbalance in your gut. It might be signaling you’re not absorbing as many nutrients as you’re eating.
Stress does a number on you. Hormones do a number on you. Fast foods or even gobbling slow foods fast can do a number on you. The place all of these sabotage you most may be your gut.
- Do you struggle with digestive issues that keep you from doing things you love?
- Do you have low energy levels?
- Do you travel frequently?
- Do you have embarrassing gas?
Any of these can be signs your gut health needs some attention. Good gut health can make every day more comfortable and enjoyable. Some simple steps can help.
Exercise is good for gut health. It can help foods move more quickly through your system. Aerobic exercise is probably the most effective in supporting a faster transit rate. Foods will move out of the stomach more quickly so nutrients are absorbed in the large intestine where they can do most good for gut health.
There’s not conclusive evidence yet that aerobic exercise is “it.” It does offer the greatest increase in circulation. Your strength training and yoga will also contribute to improved digestion through muscle tone and movement. Certain yoga poses (twists and bends) are credited with improving digestion.
Get More Fiber
Young women need 25 grams of fiber a day. Young men need 38 grams a day. The average intake is 15 grams a day. The recommendation for fiber drops after 50 to 21 and 30, respectively. (National Institute of Health Food and Nutrition Board) Don’t be so quick to drop fiber however.
If you have 20 or more pounds to lose fiber is a key player. Constant toxic exposure to computers, cell phones, WiFi, and processed foods with over 10,000 legal chemicals in them increase your need for fiber. Toxins store in your fat and make you resistant to fat loss. Fiber helps reduce toxins and then remove them from your body quickly rather than allowing them to circulate. Fiber will also the enhance absorption of nutrients in your large intestine.
Best ways to add fiber
If you have gas, a yoga class might be terrifying. To avoid the uncomfortable feeling –or embarrassing noise- of too much fiber too soon, track your daily average for several days.
Simply read labels, ask Google, and record your daily totals if you don’t use a food tracker. Getting your fiber from food is much more ideal than adding a fiber supplement. You want nutrients from whole foods rather than a supplement.
Adding too much fiber too soon can cause gas, bloating, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Be sure you’re drinking adequate water to allow fiber to do its job. Discomfort can also be a sign of too little water. Once you know your current daily average fiber intake you can develop a plan. Gradually increase your fiber intake by 5 grams a day, continuing to drink plenty of water as you do. Keep it there for a week before you increase again. If you have considerable weight to lose, increase your fiber to between 35 and 50 grams a day. Your body will tell you its toleration level. Signs you’re fiber increase is going at the right speed will include more satiety and comfortable fullness between meals and easier elimination.
Take, or Eat, Probiotics
Fermented foods have live bacteria that replenish good gut bacteria. Kimchee, sauerkraut, and kefir all fall into this fermented food category. You don’t have to live on it. It just takes a few forkfuls a day of sauerkraut to do the trick.
Alternatively, take a supplement. If you’re really making an effort to improve your gut health or recover it after a bout of antibiotics (that do their job but also can damage good bacteria), a supplement may offer quicker benefit. There’s no perfect brand. In fact, Dr. Robyn Benson, suggests not getting attached to one. They each offer a slightly different strain and a variety is best.
Eat Prebiotics and Variety
Carrots, asparagus, kiwi, radishes and leeks contain prebiotics that support healthy bacteria that already live in your gut. Outside of these, eat a variety of foods. If you’re a creature of habit like so many of us, diversify within your habits. If you like a smoothie every morning like I do for example, vary the greens, the berries, and the fats you include. Are you a salad and soup girl at lunch? Use spinach one day, kale or romaine the next, and top with different prebiotic items each day. People with the healthiest guts tend to have the best variety in their diets.
Invest in Organic, Hormone-Free Foods
If what you eat was injected with hormones or antibiotics, you’re eating them. Genetically modified foods can also cause problems with your gut. Know how your foods were raised to avoid pesticides and rinse skins of produce well.
If you are a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), you want to work in as many of these gut health practices as possible. Yes, HSP is really “a thing.” Do you notice you don’t feel good after being in large crowds? Feel lethargic after traveling or being at the mall? If you’ve got a chronic condition, a touchy stomach, you’re on antibiotics or prescription meds and need to be, the more of these gut-friendly habits you practice, the better.