Cheryl A. Major

CHERYL A. MAJOR: Five Steps to Good Gut Health – Part 1 of 2

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I want to share five different steps over the next two weeks that you implement today to improve your digestive health. Each of these steps independently will have a significant impact on your overall mental and physical wellbeing, as they are intricately linked.

Attempting to adopt too many steps into your lifestyle at once can feel overwhelming. My experience with my coaching clients is that too much at once tends to discourage people from moving forward.  I want you to take it easy on yourself, and focus on one step at a time. Set goals, create a plan and give yourself several weeks to make each step a habit and part of your daily routine. Some steps will be easier and will resonate with you more than will others.

Always remember, you don’t have to be 100 percent perfect all the time. We are always striving for progress, not perfection. For example, if one step is to get eight hours of sleep each night and you only get five hours of sleep tonight, that isn’t a sign of failure nor is it a signal to give up.

Don’t let set backs get you off track. Good health and well being are a lifelong pursuit, not an overnight achievement.

Here’s the first step towards good gut health – it may be the most difficult yet the most powerful step you can take for your health.

Step #1 – Eat Whole, Unprocessed Foods 

Busy lives mean that many of us turn to foods that are quick and easy to eat. We eat boxes of cereal, frozen pizzas and food that comes in a can. These foods are highly processed. The nutrients are often seriously depleted with fat, sugar, salt and chemicals added to make them taste better.

These foods can wreak havoc in your gut. Not only are the chemicals detrimental to the bacteria in your gut, the fat, sugar, and sodium levels cause digestive issues which trigger inflammation which over time will result in chronic disease and premature aging.

Whole foods are foods that have little or no processing. We’re talking about foods that don’t come in bags or boxes but rather as nature created them. Meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are examples of whole foods. One rule of thumb that makes it easier for some people to differentiate between whole and processed foods is to ask the question, “Did your great grandmother eat it?” Processed foods are a relatively new commodity and one to which our ancestors did not have access.

The key to eating this way is to plan ahead. Make time to cook, even if it’s on the weekends, and stick to the produce section when you’re shopping. Whole foods can be quick and easy too. For example, you might hard boil a dozen eggs on Sunday and have hard boiled eggs and a piece of fruit for breakfast during the week. That’s faster than a run through the fast food drive through and better for you than a bowl of sugary cereal.

Why whole foods? There are many reasons, but key is the fiber they provide. Fiber helps the good bacteria in your gut thrive. It also reduces any bad bacteria by moving material through your system in an effective and efficient way. When material is allowed to sit in your gut, the bad bacteria have an opportunity to thrive.  That’s when the lining of your digestive system can become irritated and inflamed and toxins can be produced.

Step #2 Identify and Eliminate Food Sensitivities and Allergies

It’s becoming more and more common for people to suffer from food sensitivities. On a very simple level, food sensitivities and allergies can cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea or constipation. They can also cause skin irritation like acne or eczema and inflammation, malnutrition, depression or neurological symptoms.

The key to identifying if you have any sensitivity is to go on an elimination diet. You simply eliminate the most common allergens from your diet for two weeks. Then gradually add them back into your diet one at a time and notice how you feel.

Here’s an example; corn is a common irritant. If you eliminate it for two weeks and then add it back into your diet, you might get a headache. That’s a sign of sensitivity.

Common irritants include gluten, dairy, soy, eggs and nuts. Consider keeping a journal to help you identify signs of sensitivity. Elimination diets aren’t difficult to manage with good planning, and they can be invaluable to help you identify foods that are making you sick.

Check back next week for Steps 3-5.

This article was originally published on my site at http://thinstronghealthy.com/gut-health/

Helping You Achieve Major Wellness in Your Life!

Cheryl A Major, CNWC

 Cheryl A Major lives in Westford and is a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant. Her TV show, Thin Strong Healthy, airs on WestfordCat and is an offshoot of her blog http://ThinStrongHealthy.com   Cheryl offers ongoing information and personal health coaching to help you feel better and be healthier.  Follow Cheryl on Twitter @CherylAMajor.  She is also a full time residential Realtor with Coldwell Banker with more than 25 years experience.

Questions?  Email Cheryl at [email protected] and be sure to put Health Question in the subject line.  Your question and its answer will be included in a future article

P.S.  Check out all the free recipes for great tasting healthy eating in the Recipe Section at http://ThinStrongHealthy.com