How often do you mutter the following to yourself….
“I wonder how the bacteria in my gut are today?”
“Oh man, I really need to soothe my stomach lining”
“Have I been eating enough pro-biotic rich foods every day..?”
Hmmmm… didn’t think so. It’s probably something more like this….
“I’m SO tired”
“Ah I’m so bloated my pants wont do up!”
“I just feel yuk!”
A bit more relateable right? What you may not realise is just how connected all of these statements are.
I had never really given much thought to the health of my gut until it was screaming at me “Stop! I’m SICK!”. A few years ago, out of seemingly nowhere I found myself in a world of pain. I couldn’t breathe, stand up straight, lay down or basically move without feeling as though someone was stabbing a knife into my upper abdomen. Let alone trying to eat or drink. It was frightening. It was also the first time in my life where something was seriously wrong and I had absolutely no idea what it was, why it was happening or how on earth I could fix it. Let’s not forget I’m pretty health conscious, into my fitness and (so I thought) in tune with my body – I never get sick!
After several doctors appointments, scans and drama – the drama courtesy of all this happening while I was living in France (I don’t speak French. Well, I can order wine and baguettes but not wade through medical jargon). I was told I have Gastritis. I was given pain medication, antacids and advised to avoid things like soft drinks, fatty take away foods (pizza, hamburgers and the like) and lollies or sweets. I sat there completely stumped, mystified even…”but I don’t eat any of those foods to begin with” I said to the Doctor. I’m not sure if she didn’t believe me or didn’t really understand the deeper meaning of what was going on inside my stomach. I left there feeling really confused and unsure of why this had happened in the first place.
I took matters into my own hands. I researched and read loads of info on gastritis and stomach inflammation. There is so much out there, including lots of conflicting information. It was confusing and I felt as though I had something that only elderly or obese unhealthy people got. In the end I took the medication, I stopped eating meat and any particularly ‘heavy’ foods and meals, I eased up on the alcohol consumption, I drank A LOT of lemon water and hoped for the best. It really was a bit of a stab in the dark.
My symptoms eased. I was no longer in excruciating pain. But I knew deep down that something still wasn’t right. Even though I had made what I thought were healthy changes I was still getting regular flare ups. I needed to look outside the
square squishy blob of my stomach, while also taking better care of myself on a broader scale.
In hindsight at that time in my life I really wasn’t looking after my gut health. Even though I was eating a relatively balanced diet it was still too high in foods that cause inflammation to our guts – key culprits being wheat/gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol and caffeine. Ummm….remember how I said I was living in France…? Yep – baguettes, cheese, croissants, rose wine and coffee! How very French of me. And then on top of that I was working a highly stressful job and probably not getting enough sleep. A stellar combination for destroying the health of your gut.
Well done me.
Part of the whole SpunkyGuts philosophy is to obtain optimum health or ‘Spunkiness’ from the guts – health should start from the inside. And this rings oh-so-true when we are talking specifically about gut health. The health of our gut is very reflective of our overall health and well-being. Our gut is closely linked to our brains (hello feelings and emotions), it plays a key role in digestion (nutrient absorption and energy) and also in our immune response (colds, flu’s, rashes and more). The balance, health and quality of the bacteria in our guts can determine if we feel like crap or not. In my case the lining of my stomach had become severely inflamed and was no longer doing it’s job properly. The acid from my stomach was leaky and causing a huge amount of pain where it shouldn’t, and the good bacteria was virtually non existent. I felt terrible. Some of my symptoms included:
- I felt tired or exhausted all the time
- I felt ‘foggy’ headed and like I couldn’t focus
- I felt bloated and ‘puffy’
- My skin was really unhappy – lots of eczema
- I was really unhappy! My mood was low a lot of the time
- I felt anxious and worried all the time – Stress!
They could also include symptoms such as being unable to shift weight, constantly getting colds/infections, problems with pimples/acne, irregular periods, poor digestion, irregular bowel movements or frequent bouts of candida/thrush.
At this point I imagine you are thinking “Right, enough words woman! How can I prevent or fix this?!” Luckily it is actually pretty easy to start to heal your gut right now. Today.
- Check your diet, are you consuming high amounts of inflammatory and difficult to digest foods? Sugar, gluten, dairy, alcohol and caffeine? Perhaps you could try cutting back on these for a week, even just one or two of them – and see how you feel?
- How are your stress levels..? Sky high and outta control? Schedule some time out, try meditation, write down your stress triggers and an action plan to combat them.
- Incorporate a good quality probiotic supplement into your regime.
- Are you eating probiotic rich foods (this is even more important than taking a pill by the way!)? Pick up some sauerkraut or kim-chi, good quality natural yogurt, miso soup, fermented vegetables, kefir or kombucha. Have a little with or prior to every meal.
- Have a go at making your own fermented foods! This week I’m experimenting with Gut Friendly Cashew Cheese and coconut milk yogurt – stay tuned on this one!
- Ensure you are eating plenty of vibrant, fiber filled foods – aka VEGETABLES!! Leafy greens, sweet potato, carrot, beetroot….parsley, mint – The. List. Goes. On!
- Look at healing foods – foods that are high in collagen (the stuff that actually makes up our stomach lining) are like a day spa for your gut. Bone broths and soups or slow cooked meats (including the juices!). Using high quality gelatin powder (collagen) to set healthy jellies or custards. Or add collagen to your smoothies.
Fast forward to today and I can’t remember the last time I had a gastritis flare up. I also know that the health of my gut still isn’t where I want it to be, but I’m working on that every day. Looking after our gut health should be an ongoing aspect of our overall health. It takes time. If your gut has been neglected for a while, don’t expect things to change overnight – stick with it, be patient. I promise you it’s worth it!
If this post resonated with you why not hit the share buttons and spread those warm fuzzies. Good karma is always welcome at my place….what about yours..?
*the featured image above is courtesy of deathtothestockphoto.com – and a mighty fine image it is too 🙂