Take Charge of Your Health - A Gutsy Move
A good bank account, a good cook, and a good digestion.
Gastrointestinal and digestive health is one of the hottest topics heading into 2019. The digestion process is a well-orchestrated performance where the food we eat is broken down and the vitamins, minerals, proteins and fats are unlocked and used as nutrients for growth, energy and cellular repair; everything else is swept away.
It is all about having a healthy gut and how this can affect your immune system and overall wellness. There are trillions of bacteria, fungi and viruses living in our bodies, micro-organisms that help our body function properly. They digest food, destroy disease-causing organisms and stimulate our immune response. In fact, 60-80% of our body’s immune cells reside in the tissues of our gastrointestinal lining.
Probiotics, as found in yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, miso and kimchi, add healthy bacteria to our body, while prebiotics help gut bacteria produce nutrients for our colon cells and thereby feed the organisms in our gut. Foods with prebiotic benefits include: garlic, onions, asparagus, flaxseed, bananas, barley, oats and apples.
As our population of people over the age of 60 continues to grow, food and beverage manufacturers are looking at opportunities to launch products that address consumer demand for brain, bone, joint, heart and immune system health. While the market has focused on and will continue to promote probiotics and fiber, new prebiotic and fermented foods and beverages are also growing in popularity. You may not even realize it but brands with a focus on consumer health and self-care have been adding probiotics to granola, nut butters, even soups. Now mainstream companies like Kellogg are launching cereals with probiotics, prebiotics and fiber, while beverage manufacturers focus on functional drinks which are fermented and plant-based. We also see the rise in the use of holistic ingredients such a ginger, turmeric and green tea extract for GI health.
How do you know if you have a gut problem? IBS, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, vomiting, nausea, fatigue, moodiness, acne, eczema, sugar cravings, getting sick often - all of these can be signs. To improve your gut health, you can try to eliminate foods you believe you may be sensitive to and irritate your gut. Gluten and diary products are common examples; eggs and nuts can also be problematic for some people. For a period of two to four weeks, try eliminating one of these product categories at a time and see if you can pinpoint the irritant.
At the same time, look to increase fiber through foods such as leafy greens like spinach and kale, sweet potatoes, broccoli, chia seeds and fruits. Avocados are a super food, packed with fiber and nutrients. Daily dietary recommendations include: 25-38 grams of fiber; 7 servings of fruits and vegetables; increasing our fish and poultry intake; reducing red meat intake of beef, pork and lamb, replacing these with beans for more fiber; and eliminating processed sugars. (Scary Fact: The average American consumes 150-170 pounds of sugar a year!)
Remember, it is also important to stay hydrated, exercise regularly, and try to avoid stress and anxiety, all which can affect our digestive health.
As always, join us on the Health-E³ website blog page. We look forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences. Check out our newest page on Personalized Care. Feel free to ask a question about anything on the website or suggest ideas for additional helpful information. And remember, it's up to you to Take Charge of Your Health.