Every year we get older. It is a fact of life. Unfortunately, we've been trained that when we get older our health declines. We are told to be healthy we must take pharmaceuticals so we don't miss the important moments in our lives. The family birthday parties, children's weddings and grandchildren being born. I'm here to tell you this doesn't have to be true. Especially when it comes to gut health.
Our gut not only helps us digest food, process waste and detox our bodies naturally. It helps keep our immune system strong and our minds healthy. Take care of the gut and the rest of your body will benefit. But we often don't think about our health until it is too late. Once we have a health issue is when we decide to pay attention to being healthy. That's OK. That is human nature. When things are going fine, we don't think about what to eat, when to move our body and when to relax to beat stress.
How do you know your gut health is declining and needs some attention? Bowel movements will tell you a lot about your health if you pay attention to them. Some clear signs your gut is unhealthy are:
If you are not having a bowel movement every day, there is an issue. If your bowel movements are hard and you are straining, there is an issue.
The opposite of constipation! Runny, loose stools are a sign that something is wrong with your gut. If this condition happens long enough, you will be nutrient deficient because you are unable to absorb the nutrients from the food you are eating. Our bodies need time to process food that we eat to extract the nutrients it needs to be healthy.
This is not the occasional gas experienced when we eat foods that are in high in fiber and may cause gas. This gas is constant and happens even when a very small portion of food has been eaten. Also, if the gas smells foul your gut is definitely unhealthy.
If you experience bloating after you eat that is so severe you look pregnant, there is something wrong with your gut health. Bloating can be a sign of irritable bowel disease (IBD), Crohn's disease or a food intolerance.
The good news is that if you have gut health issues, such as the issues listed above or have been diagnosed with IBD, Crohn's, Colitis or diverticulitis, you can heal your gut. There are 5 Steps to take to start the healing process.
#1 TAKE A FOOD ALLERGY TEST
You can take an at home food allergy test from EverlyWell to find out if you have a food allergy or sensitivity. Our bodies change over time. Foods we never had an issue with may now bother us significantly. It is good to take a test every 5-7 years. Once you know the foods you are allergic to or have a sensitivity, you can stop eating those regularly. You don't have to stop eating them altogether. Just cut back on them and only eat them 2-4 times a month. Why guess when you can know?
#2 MOVE YOUR BODY EVERYDAY
Moving your body everyday benefits the digestive system by keeping things moving. That means bowel movements will happen more regularly, keeping the gut healthier. If you haven't been exercising, make sure to check with your doctor before starting a routine. An easy way to start is to walk for 15 minutes, 3 times a week. When this becomes part of your routine, then you can increase the time to 30 minutes. Moving your body everyday does not have to be strenuous or expensive. Find activities you like to do and do them. Also, there are plenty of free workouts on YouTube.
#3 REDUCE STRESS
Stress is a nasty reaction in our bodies that effects digestion. Stomach aches, not wanting to eat or eating too much confuses the gut and makes it hard to digest food. Stress reduction techniques are taking up a breathing practice, writing in a journal, taking a warm bath, sitting in an infrared sauna, practicing yoga, working on a hobby or spending some time alone. There is not one right answer on how to reduce stress. Find something that makes you feel really good and make that your stress reduction technique.
#4 EAT MORE PLANTS
Eating mostly fruits, vegetables, grains and reducing the amount of meat you eat daily helps the gut maintain its health. Eating mostly plants and grains helps the gut repopulate beneficial bacteria that fights pathogens and illness in our bodies. When increasing the amount of plant-based foods, make sure to increase the amount of clean water you drink daily. We should drink half our body weight in ounces of clean water everyday.
#5 TAKE SUPPLEMENTS
I wish we could get all of our nutrients from food alone. The fact is, even if you eat organic, our food supply is nutrient deficient. Eating organic is necessary to avoid chemicals and pesticides which harm the gut. But we still need additional nutrients to keep the gut healthy. This may mean taking a probiotic or collagen every day. It will depend on your unique situation which supplements will help heal the gut. Working with a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, such as myself, will help you figure out what supplements work for you.
I hope you found this post about not losing your gut health as you age eye-opening. Our bodies have the ability to heal themselves. We just need guidance on how to do it. What part of this article did you find interesting? Leave me a comment below.