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Healthy Gut Resources

Filtering by Category: DIET AND IBD

Gut Health Checklist

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Fuel your body and feed your gut a diet rich in fiber.

Fuel your body and feed your gut a diet rich in fiber.

The Gut Check Checklist:

  • Fiber is your Friend - Incorporate fiber rich foods into your daily regimen. Filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables and don't skip out on the skin. The edible skins of fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients including most of the fiber.  

  • Kick sugar and refined carbs - Excessive sugar intake from added sugars or simple carbohydrates can create an unfavorable environment in the gut favoring inflammation and other disease processes. 

  • Hydration - Often time maintaining hydration is a simple but important factor that is important for our body to function at its best. Hydration needs vary by individual, but are essential for digestion, preventing dehydration, cooling the body, and delivering nutrients. 

  • Stay Away from Stress - With hectic schedules prioritize time to de-stress. I know it might not be realistic for everyone to take significant days off, BUT it is realistic to take 5 minutes out of your day to de-stress. I challenge YOU to find those 5 minutes in your day and clear your mind!

  • Limit alcohol - Alcohol can be a GI stimulant which can alter digestion. Also many alcoholic beverages are combined with sugary mixers and its not uncommon to choose unhealthy foods when having multiple drinks. 

  • Avoid smoking!

  • Limit saturated fats - Similar to sugar studies have shown that the intestinal flora changes with high impact of saturated fats. 

  • Get spicy - Utilizing herbs and spices not only are a great way to add flavor to dishes without adding sodium, but also provide health benefits to the gut and digestion. They are wonderful to add to dishes, but also works wonders in a warm beverage such as a warm turmeric and ginger latte. 

    • Ginger: May help reduce nausea and cramping. Exact mechanisms for action are not known but potential mechanism include aiding with digestive enzymes. 

    • Turmeric: Turmeric has been around for many years and it derives its anti inflammatory properties from its one of its main bioactive substances curcumin.  

    • Cumin: Aids in digestion and potentially can help with gas and bloating. 

  • Fermented Foods and Probiotics - Probiotic supplements and probiotic rich foods are a great way to boost the good bacteria in your gut. Remember to choose a reputable brand when selecting probiotic supplements as since they are a supplement they are not FDA regulated. Probiotic rich food examples include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, fermented vegetables, sauerkraut, kimchee, or kombucha beverage. 

  • Stay active - Exercise has many wonderful benefits with that including helping with regulation of bowel movements. Inactivity is a contributing factor to constipation and regular physical activity is a great way to naturally improve your regularity. Be sure to stay well hydrated while exercising!! 

Resources: Journal of Gastroenterology. 2016. Effects of a high fat diet on intestinal microbiota and gastrointestinal disease. 

FODMAP Diet

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Blueberries are an acceptable option on the FODMAP diet, but limit to 20 berries.

Blueberries are an acceptable option on the FODMAP diet, but limit to 20 berries.

FODMAP’s

FODMAP’s are a collection of short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols found in foods naturally or as food additives. While most carbohydrates can be broken down and absorbed, certain carbohydrates such as FODMAP’s are not as easily digested.  FODMAP’s can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine and travel to the large intestine.  In the large intestine the FODMAP’s are rapidly fermented by bacteria, and FODMAP’s are also osmotic (they attract water into the large bowel) with both of these processes can result in symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and changes in bowel habits.

FODMAP diets are popular for use in inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowl syndrome, and other digestive disorders.  When implementing the FODMAP diet plan there are several steps including elimination, monitoring symptoms, and reintroduction of foods (amount, type, and frequency). As with any elimination diet it is important to work with a dietitian to ensure you continue to meet your nutrition needs  are being met as well as to help identify the foods contributing to symptoms.  Several nutrients of concern on the FODMAP diet include calcium and fiber.  

FODMAP stands for:

Fermentable- stands for fermented or broken down by bacteria which can cause gas and other GI symptoms.

Oligosaccharides – Oligosaccharides are carbohydrates. Oligo meaning few and saccharide meaning sugar they are carbohydrates with a few (~ 3-10) simple sugars that join to form a chain.

Disaccharides- Carbohydrates formed by 2 monosaccharides. The common disaccharide to avoid on FODMAP is lactose.

Monosaccharides: Simple  or single sugars. Here the monosaccharide of concern is fructose, specifically foods with excessive fructose. Examples include high fructose corn syrup, honey, agave, mango, and watermelon.

And

Polyols – Common polyols include sorbitol and mannitol. Polyols are present naturally in fruits (such as cherries, pears, stone fruits) and is also added to foods with sugar alcohols (commonly in “sugar free” products).

While most carbohydrates can be broken down and absorbed, certain carbohydrates such as FODMAP’s are not as easily digested.  FODMAP’s can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine and travel to the large intestine.  In the large intestine the FODMAP’s are rapidly fermented by bacteria, and FODMAP’s are also osmotic (they attract water into the large bowel) with both of these processes can result in symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and changes in bowel habits.

FODMAP’s include:

FRUCTOSE: a naturally occurring sugar. Can be found as a fructose, sucrose (fructose + glucose), or a fructan (polymer of fructose present in fruit, vegetables, grains). Free fructose is absorbed by a transporter, GLUT 5 that is present in the small intestine. When glucose is present with fructose it is absorbed better via a GLUT 2 transporter. Failure to completely absorb free fructose leads to delivery to the colon where the colon bacteria ferment the free fructose to hydrogen, carbon dioxide and short chain fatty acids.

LACTOSE: is made up of glucose + galactose and is found in milk and dairy products. To digest lactose containing products you need lactose which is an enzyme. Lactase will break the sugar into single sugars for the body to absorb. Lactase production in our body can be decreased for a variety of reasons include: decreases as we age, gastrointestinal infection, IBD. If you do not have enough lactase enzyme the lactose is not digested normally and it passes to the large intestine where it is fermented by bacteria.

FRUCTANS: are fructose polymers and are the naturally occurring storage carbohydrates of a variety of vegetables, including onions and garlic, fruits and cereals. They also occur in inulin and fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) as they are added to a variety of foods for their prebiotic effect.  The small intestine does not produce enzymes that can break the fructose-fructose bonds therefore some people have difficulty digesting fructans.

GALACTO-OLIGOSACCHARIDES: are chains of galactose molecules and are often malabsorbed in the small intestine.  Food sources include lentils, chickpeas, and kidney beans. Similar to fructans the galactose galactose bonds are difficult to digest and can lead to fermentation by the bacteria of the large bowel. 

10 FODMAP Friendly Snacks:

When choosing snacks or food choices on the FODMAP diet portion size is key. While there are foods to avoid on FODMAP it is also important to  be mindful of portion size,  as some foods are acceptable in small portions, but not well tolerated in large portions. 

Boiled egg and 10 almonds

Banana with 1 tbsp. peanut butter

1 ounce cheddar cheese + Rice crackers

½ cup oatmeal (prepared w/ soymilk) with ¼ cup blueberries and 1 tsp chia seeds

Rice cake with peanut butter

Lactose free yogurt ( be sure to check label for no high FODMAP ingredients)

Tuna pouch + baby carrots

1 ounce walnuts + 1 cup coffee with almond milk

Sliced Cucumbers + 1 ounce cheddar cheese

½ cup strawberries + 1 cup almond milk

For more info on a low FODMAP diet check out www.monashfodmap.com. They also have a great FODMAP friendly app. 

ANTI INFLAMMATORY DIET: FOODS TO CHOOSE AND AVOID

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MY GOAL IS TO HELP CLIENTS USE NUTRITION IN COMBINATION WITH THEIR OTHER MEDICAL THERAPIES TO HELP REMOVE THE FEAR OF EATING, TAKE CONTROL OF THEIR DISEASE, AND FUEL AN ACTIVE LIFESTYLE – LAURA LOMAX, MS, RD, LD OWNER OF GREENS & GRAINS NUTRITION

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FOODS TO CHOOSE - ANTI INFLAMMATORY FOODS

FRUITS AND VEGETABLES: Eating anti-inflammatory rich fruits and vegetables doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. It can be simple foods. Choose the produce that is in season and if you have problems with tolerance try the fruits or vegetables in different forms. For example, if you don’t tolerate raw fruits & veggies try incorporating them into a smoothie, well cooked, or pureed.

SPICES AND HERBS: Ginger, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, sage, cloves, allspice

OMEGA 3 FATTY ACID RICH FOODS: salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, flaxseed oil, chia seeds

NUTS AND SEEDS: Walnuts, pecans, pistachios, almonds, macadamia, brazil nuts

WHOLE GRAINS: Brown rice, oats, popcorn, buckwheat, wild rice

BEANS, LENTILS, SOYBEANS, AND EDAMAME  

DARK CHOCOLATE OR COCOA

PROBIOTIC RICH FOODS: yogurts without added sugar, fermented foods (such as sauerkraut)

TEA: green tea, matcha tea, black tea

FOODS TO LIMIT OR AVOID

PROCESSED MEATS: bologna, hot dogs, sausage, cold cuts 

TRANS FAT OR HYDROGENTATED OILS: Food label laws allow a product to be labeled zero grams if it has less than 0.5 grams per serving. To be sure your food is trans fat free check the food ingredients list and double check you don’t see the word “hydrogenated oils or partially hydrogenated”. Some common foods to double check include peanut butter, snack bars, and biscuits. 

SUGARY BEVERAGES AND OTHER FOODS WITH ADDED SUGARS: In a few years food labels will be mandated to identify grams of added sugar on the food label. Until then be sure to look at your ingredient list if you are unsure if a food contains natural vs added sugar. Look for sugar in the ingredient list (ingredients are listed from most to least in the product). Sometimes labels can be tricky so remember sugar, honey, high fructose corn syrup, organic cane sugar, fructose, evaporated cane juice, corn syrup solid are all just other ways of saying added sugar.

REFINED GRAINS: Opt for the whole grain options as mentioned above. While all whole grains are your best bet, aim to make at least half your grains whole.

FOODS HIGH IN SATURATED FATS: Such as fried foods, fatty meats, and many processed baked goods.

As always tips provided are general anti- inflammatory foods. Dietary recommendations vary by individual based on disease location, severity, and overall health. Always discuss changes with your medical team prior to making changes in your diet.

 

For more tips and healthy recipes follow me on Instagram @greensandgrainsrd and on Facebook at Greens & Grains Nutrition.