As we get older our body starts to change and it is important to be aware of issues and diseases that can arise due to age. My goal with my blog is to inform you of what you can do to be your own advocate to maintain a healthy and happy body! Knowledge is power! Going to your doctor armed with questions and information will help you to be in charge of your health and the care you receive. After my recent blog on osteoporosis, I received an email from a friend. She has seen many doctors over the years for health issues including back pain and never once been told to get a bone density test as she is entering menopause! No one cares as much about your health as you do!!
Not only do our bones start to become compromised as we age, but your gut can start to behave in ways you never imagined!!! Even though I focus on eating a clean diet, as I have aged, I have continued to battle Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It ebbs and flows, but I truly understand how intestinal distress can upset your daily living. How you feel is within your control and gut health is important for your overall wellness.
First, we need to understand what comprises the gut. It is not just the stomach or the intestines. It is a complicated system that is comprised of of our salivary glands, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum and accessory digestive organs: liver, gallbladder and pancreas. Wow, that is a ton of organs and it can make it difficult to figure out where in your gut lies the problem. It is further complicated because “our brain and gut are connected by an extensive network of neurons and a highway of chemicals and hormones that constantly provide feedback about how hungry we are, whether or not we’re experiencing stress, or if we’ve ingested a disease-causing microbe. This mind-gut connection is not just metaphorical."*
Knowing that our gut is important we, as a society, need to be paying more attention to what it is telling us. Our gut is our first line of defense and comprises 75% of our immune system. A healthy gut is like a healthy garden of soil and can improve our immune system, symptoms of depression as well as prevent obesity. Our modern lifestyle of processed foods, eating on the run, stress etc... leads us to an unhealthy gut. What can we do to make our gut healthier and hence our bodies stronger?
💩Eat fermentable fibers such as sweet potatoes, oats, bananas
💩Eat fermentable food such as kefir, yogurt, kombucha
💩Eat whole foods, foods that are not processed, but as nature made them
💩Reduce artificial sweeteners
💩Look into the FODMAP diet if you suffer from intestinal distress
If you are following the suggestions I listed above and are still not sure if your gut is in a healthy state, pay attention to your poop. The Bristol Stool Chart is a great guide to help you understand how your body is reacting to food and stress. Based on what your poop is telling you, the chart offers suggestions on how to get your bowel movements back to normal.
It may take a long time and a lot of experimenting, but your health is worth it.
*The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood and Your Long-Term Health, by Justin Sonnenburg and Erica Sonnenburg, PhDs.