By Scott Sanders
Some people can eat whatever they want without any issues. Others have negative reactions to certain foods and diets. If you’re one of many people who experience occasional digestive problems, it’s time to learn about how you can use the food you consume to heal you from the inside out.
Digestive ailments hit everyone at some point in their lives, and they can be temporary inconveniences or chronic conditions. Who hasn’t had diarrhea, constipation, bloating, vomiting, or an upset stomach at some point? But there are many who suffer from serious conditions like gallstones, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and more. According to Everyday Health, 20 percent of Americans are affected by GERD, over 25 million have gallstones, and approximately 10 to 15 percent are affected by irritable bowel syndrome. Disruptive stomach conditions can be caused by what you eat, but they can also be treated by what you eat.
Eating whole, unprocessed foods is the best way to heal the gut. Learn to read nutrition labelsto see what ingredients make up your food. Preservatives and additives make your digestive system work harder and cause other health issues. Some foreign ingredients simply shouldn’t be eaten. Buy your food fresh rather than from packages. The more ingredients in the food, the more you should avoid it.
Digestive conditions and autoimmune diseases generally call for special diets. To see which foods affect you in negative ways, try an elimination diet that removes specific foods for one month. You can start by cutting out the foods that typically cause issues (such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy, sugar, and alcohol) and reintroduce them slowly to see how they affect you. Another option is to cut out one thing at a time to monitor any differences. If you’re willing to stick with a strict diet, the autoimmune protocoldiet helps reduce intestinal inflammation.
Since your gut processes all of your body’s nutrients, the health of your digestive tract is important to your overall wellbeing. When things are off in your gut, the rest of your body feels off, too. Gut healthcould affect everything from your brain to your skin to your weight-loss efforts.
Your gut contains both good bacteria and bad bacteria. Known as microbiomes, these microorganisms live inside your digestive tract. The friendly bacteriain your gut include Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, Saccharomyces Boulardii, Bacillus Coagulans, and Akkermansia microbes. They protect against harmful microbes, promote digestive health, aid in digestion, improve the immune system, produce vitamins, impact the metabolism, and have other positive effects on intestinal health.
The good bacteria may prevent and treat diseases, such as inflammatory conditions, heart disease, and even cancer. Gut health is linked to cancer in many ways. Digestive issues are often due to cancer and side effects of treatments. Constipation, nausea, stomach cramps, weight loss, and digestion problems can occur as a result of pain medication, chemotherapy, or the cancer itself.
Sometimes, it’s the gut health that helps treat cancer. An immunotherapy called Checkpoint Inhibition can shrink tumors, but studieshave shown that gut health could have something to do with the patient’s response to it. By altering the gut microbiome, patients develop a better response to the immunotherapy. More good bacteria means better immune cells to kill the cancer cells.
Healthy people who don’t have underlying medical problems may want to consider adding probioticsto their daily routine. Probiotics contain the same helpful microorganisms that are present in our bodies. You can ingest probiotics through supplements or in foods such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, and kombucha (which also has antioxidants).
Let’s not discount the importance of exercise for overall health. A healthy diet can heal your body, but never underestimate the role of physical fitness in a holistic approach to healing digestive ailments. Any form of cardiovascular exercise can help move digestive waste through your system. Yogais a great activity to practice, especially when it comes to reducing bloat.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to intestinal health and treating digestive disorders. Each body is different. It takes trial and error, listening to your body, and seeing a doctor when natural methods don’t provide results. When the solutions finally do come, you’ll get to relish in the joy of eating again.