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.
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.