Our guts are so highly individual. A diet that may work perfectly for one person could cause havoc for another. Our BFF that eats like total sh*t has virtually no digestive problems, meanwhile, our other friend who is intentional, mindful, and makes virtually only healthy choices has erratic and volatile digestive duress. Sigh. Do we just eat the pizza and call it a day?
Ok, yes. Pizza is delicious. But if we could shout it from the mountaintops, we’d shout, “All things in moderation.” Or not at all if you’re allergic. Hello, all of our lactose-intolerant, celiac, and gluten-sensitive babes. We see ya, we feel ya.
So how do we do our best to take care of our ever-changing, ever-evolving, ever-unique guts, microbiomes, and overall digestive systems? Well, there aren’t many constants. It’s important to be intuitive, to be investigative, and to stay attuned to our bodies’ changes because they are inevitable.
However, we did consult a professional for some basic tips on how to get ahead of our guts and proceed with the best care possible. Dr. Frank Lipman is a leader in functional medicine and has a well-rounded grasp on the promising future of Western medicine combined with age-old ancient Eastern healing modalities for a holistic approach. These are his top three tips for understanding our guts a little better.
An elimination diet
Before we get a collective eye-roll, hear us (and Dr. Lipman, the professional) out. First and foremost, this isn’t permanent. We can try it for as little as two weeks to as much as a month, or even three.
“Cut out sugar, processed foods, all grains (including soy and corn), and dairy for two weeks,” Dr. Lipman suggests. Once you’ve totally cut these out, check-in with yourself. Maybe keep a journal about how your body is feeling, how your digestion is going, etc. After this time, begin to slowly reintroduce these food items.
It’s best to introduce each food item one at a time so that you can tell which one is or is not giving you grief of any kind. Try one out for a week or two, then another, until you’re able to grasp which foods are causing issues for you. It’s time-intensive, sure, but it’s one of the most effective ways to understand how your own gut operates.
Chill during mealtimes
It may seem like it wouldn’t make the biggest difference, but eating quickly and under stress can cause gas, bloating, and improper digestion/assimilation of nutrients in the body. When we chew, we begin the first phase of digestion—breakdown.
Our saliva has digestive enzymes that prep the food for further breakdown by our stomach acid. But large, haphazardly chewed chunks of food haven’t had enough face-time with our saliva enzymes and will have a harder time breaking down properly in the stomach, resulting in gas and bloating. Dr. Lipman suggests making mealtimes “a relaxing, mindful, unwinding time.”
Eat your prebiotics
We take our wonderful probiotics and think they are going to commit literal magic inside of us and do all the work but oh no, honey. Probiotics are just a small part of the bigger picture, and we need to cultivate a happy place for them to thrive.
“Eat the stalks and stems of your vegetables to get prebiotics—the non-digestible foods that the bacteria in your gut feed on—and up your fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi to get probiotics,” Dr. Lipman shares.
Another great source of prebiotics is resistant starch. This is found in cooked white rice and cooked potatoes, but only after they’ve cooled. Once cooled, their starches turn resistant, which is delicious food for our gut bugs even if it’s been reheated.
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