I do not know about you, but it is not easy to live life without hearing about intestinal health. The concept of gut health refers to the digestion, absorption of nutrients and bacterial composition of your gut microbiome, according to the Mayo Clinic. These factors work in tandem to support the consumption of nutrients, treat waste, nourish your body and protect you from disease. However, I seem to spot a new “gut health” specialty food during each grocery trip and see a ton of TikToks full of confusing gut health tips.
If the popularity of gastrointestinal health makes you think of your own microbiome, you may find the latest episode The Well + Good Podcast really enlightening. Ella Dove, Creative Development Manager at Well + Good, spoke with Will Bulsiewicz, MD, a gastroenterologist and New York Times author of bestsellers of books Fueled Fiber and The Fiber Fueled Cookbook and Brigitte Zeitlin, RD, a New York-based registered dietitian, to discuss all things bowel health.
Overall, the experts stressed how adaptable your gut is and what you will notice when your body tries to tell you that something has “gone up”. In addition, they offer some reliable tips for maintaining gut health.
“Your gut is adapted to your routine, it is adaptable and changeable, but you have to move slowly. Small choices in a certain direction can allow your gut microbiome to make up the difference,” says Dr. Bulsiewicz. For example, he explains, if you’re on a Paleo diet and want to quit so you can eat beans and legumes — you may feel funky at first. It states that your digestive system is very similar to your musculoskeletal system as it takes time to gain strength and endurance. “If you eat a bunch of something you are not used to, your body can react with gas, bloating or pain,” he says. Taking it slowly is the best way to change your lifestyle without problems in the abdomen.
3 signs that your gut is trying to tell you something
Feeling bloated constantly
“Beware of how you feel: Signs of bloating may indicate food intolerance or something happening in your gut,” says Zeitlin. Flatulence is a compound word, but in gastroenterology it refers to the feeling of fullness, gas and water retention. Sometimes this is a natural response to your diet, illness or environment. It can be an accidental symptom that goes away on its own. The best way to get rid of bloating, according to Zeitlin, is to keep a food diary. This can help you connect the dots between what you eat and what makes you feel less well.
Brain fog, according to the Mayo Clinic, is a decreased sense of cognition and increased distraction or a feeling that you can not concentrate. It can come from many things such as drug side effects, lack of sleep, COVID-19, dehydration or, as Zeitlin points out, food intolerances.
This is another place where a food diary will be useful, says Zeitlin. When you experience brain fog from food, it can arrive when you eat or shortly after. Having a food diary and symptom notes for your day can help you understand if your brain fog is coming from your diet or something. Also, of course, you can bring the notes to a provider.
Constipation is a red flag of the intestine, according to Dr. Bulsiewicz. It does not necessarily mean that something is wrong, but it is a sign that there is a “twist” in your digestive system. Again, it can come from many things like dehydration, lack of fiber, excessive fiber or food intolerance. Try drinking water, light movements such as walking or doing some yoga stretches to encourage bowel movement.
Your gut is very complex and resilient – just like you. These experts recommend that you do not see gut health tips in extreme black and white terms. There are many people out there with gut health ideas out there, but at the end of the day, you know yourself and your body better.
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