How many times have we uttered the phrase, “I have a weird feeling in my gut about this.” Or “my gut is telling me no.” It may be time to listen to the secrets your gut is trying to tell you. There’s an anatomical reason for these messages from your intestinal region. Your gut actually has its own nervous system (the enteric system) that is in charge of digestion. It’s linked with your central nervous system via the vagus nerve at the base of the brain. When you’re afraid, anxious or tense, your brain sends messages to your gut that can cause constipation, cramping, diarrhea and other unpleasant symptoms. So when you say that you have a bad feeling in your gut, listen up: it may actually be telling you secrets you need to hear to keep you healthy and safe. Sometimes the unpleasant communiques we receive from our gut – like gas – are telling a different story. In many cases your emotions are not the catalyst for bloating and flatulence, it’s the food you’re eating or not eating that’s causing the problem. The following foods are notorious for producing gas. That doesn’t mean that these foods aren’t healthy, you just need to take certain precautions or make adjustments on how you prepare and eat them.
- Beans – Let’s start with a classic. Beans have certain sugars that are hard for humans to digest. But soaking and adding sea vegetables while cooking reduce their volatility.
- Leafy Greens – Cabbage, kale, broccoli and the like are superstars in the nutrition world but their high fiber content frequently causes intestinal discomfort. If you’re new to these foods, try small portions at first, cooked over raw, and chew each mouthful thoroughly.
- Gluten – The new classic. While less than 1% of the population suffers from Celiac disease, roughly 1 in 10 of us experience gastric distress caused by gluten. Try eliminating wheat and other gluten-rich products from your diet for 2-3 weeks and see if you notice a difference.
- Sugars – Sugar ferments in the intestines and causes gas under normal circumstances. But, if there’s too much at any time, there’s too much gas. Lactose, the sugar in milk, is also a common offender. So just imagine what an ice cream sundae can do to you. And over time, excess sugar can cause Candida, a fungal overgrowth in the gut responsible for a host of issues such as fatigue, cravings, allergic reactions, nail and skin fungi and vaginal infections. Read more about Candida here: www.huffingtonpost.com/maura-henninger-nd/five-steps-to-treating-ca_b_4810659.html
A healthy gut is not only key to good digestive health, but can send messages to the brain to keep us more relaxed and happy. Millions of bacteria living there — known as the microbiome — can help regulate regulate serotonin and affecting emotional behavior and pain perception. So how do we keep our guts — and ourselves– balanced, happy and healthy? It’s pretty simple:
- Reduce your intake of processed food with hidden sugars and sugary drinks
- Drink lots of water to flush out your system
- Exercise Regularly to get things moving
- Restore healthy gut bacteria by eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and some yogurts and/or take probiotics (aim for ones that offer 10-25 billion live bacteria.) This is especially important after a course of antibiotics.
- Practice meditation, breathing and other relaxation techniques to quiet those negative gut messages in times of stress.
- If problems persist or worsen, get checked for parasites or other conditions.