Help, I'm Gassy!
Treat Digestive Disturbances Naturally
Q: I struggle with bloating, gas and irregular bowel movements. What is something I can start to do to improve this?
A: Gas, bloating and irregular bowel movements are signs that things in the small and large intestines are not functioning optimally. The health of the gut defines how the body utilizes the food it is nourished with and is reflected in the health of the rest of the body. Poor digestive function is linked to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and can lead to increased risk of neurological, inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.
But how do you know where to start fixing the problem? Digestive disturbances can be related to overconsumption of processed foods, food sensitivities, lack of fibre, stress, certain medications, antibiotics, alcohol, invading pathogens etc. To fully understand the problem and how to begin to solve it, it is best to work one on one with a natural healthcare practitioner. However, there are several things that can be implemented on a daily basis that can begin to help the process such as drinking sufficient amounts of water, reducing coffee consumption to one cup/day, eating a primarily whole foods diet rich in fruits and veggies, complex carbs, healthy fats and clean proteins, and reducing the intake of processed and sugary foods.
It is also important to support the healthy bacterial balance of the gut with fermented foods and probiotics‼
The digestive tract is a complex ecosystem that holds more than three pounds of various bacteria. The beneficial bacteria are known as “probiotics”, and include the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species. In the correct balance, these various microorganisms play a pivotal role in proper digestion, nutrient absorption, the immune system and general health. When out of balance, problems can arise, and this might be experienced as gas, bloating and poor quality poops!
Fermented foods are created when natural bacteria feed on the sugars and starches in food to create lactic acids, a process called Lacto Fermentation. This process preserves the food and its nutrients, and creates b-vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. Fermentation also breaks the food down into a more digestible form and creates beneficial enzymes and various strains of probiotics. Because of these positive characteristics, eating fermented foods is often associated with improved digestion!
The sad part is the North American diet is very deficient in fermented foods. Thankfully, various fermented products like kombucha, kefir, kimchi, unpasteurized sauerkraut, and tempeh are available at health food stores. There are now even fermented vegetarian protein and greens powders on the market to improve the quality and absorption of the products while contributing to that ever-important gut ecosystem.
To really punch up the good bacterial numbers in the intestinal tract, invest in a good probiotic that has various strains of both the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species! Some probiotics even come in a naturally fermented base to enhance the quality of their activity in the gut. Clean up the diet, drink plenty of water, eat fermented foods regularly and add in a good probiotic to improve digestive function.