Removing FODMAP’s is one way that can support our digestion while we heal, but it should never be used long term. It is only a a way to see which foods, if any, are causing issues. When we experience IBS, SIBO or other gut issues we often turn to diet first, but when taken too far we can fall into the trap of food fear and further restrictions. There are several other things we can do to heal and support the health of our guts that has nothing to do with what we eat (except the last two)
- Chew well. These two words make up an obvious concept yet, how many of us really chew every bite until liquid? I can’t stress the importance of chewing enough. When we chew we ensure large particles of food do not reach our intestines where they can ferment and cause gas and pain. Chewing also stimulates the body to release digestive enzymes. At minimum, chew until your food loses its texture and take smaller bites.
- Love your gut. If we suffer from IBS or SIBO we can become angry at our intestinal system for not working “correctly”, we may also fear eating because ultimately we don’t trust our guts. Give yourself and your body grace and know that the human digestive system is miraculous in its ability to nourish and keep us alive. You don’t have to deny the pain but instead start trusting that the challenge you are experience, the journey you are on, is bringing you to wholeness and health. You can use your gut issues as a powerful tool to learn to grow, accept and love yourself.
- Re-aquaint yourself with nature. The microbes and bacteria in our environment can positively impact our gut microbiota. Get outside every day, get your hands dirty, ride bikes, eat a picnic in the park or at minimum, drive with the windows rolled down.
- Sleep well. This tip, like chewing, is another doozy. We all agree sleep is important yet we don’t make it a priority. If sleep was important we would set the stage for a optimal sleep. We’d avoid alcohol at night, stay off technology past 7pm (including TV, phone and iPad), take a warm epsom salt bath before turning in, buy light blocking binds, say “no” to invitations that keep us out late and turn off the lights by 10pm.
- Kiss and hug healthy people. Health is contagious, literally. We share bacteria with the people we live and work with. Being with people who have a healthy digestion can improve our gut bacteria, making them diverse and resilient.
- Eat a variety and diverse range of food. They healthiest diet for supporting our gut bacteria is one that is expansive and flexible. The more types and kinds of foods we eat the healthier and nourished our gut bacteria will be. Although research is young, eating a wide variety of food, possibly up to 30 different plant species (vegetables, herbs and fruits) per week, can improve gut disorders. If it seems too intimidating then start with expanding your herb repertoire. Use rosemary on potatoes, make a pesto with basil, parsley, olive oil and salt to smother over your vegetables, sprinkle cilantro on your chicken, use basil on a tomato salad. Once using herbs becomes easy, start expanding the types of vegetables you buy. Instead of spinach buy Swiss chard or instead of carrots try parsnips.
- Have a bitter aperitivo. When I lived in Italy I would meet friends at the cafe in the piazza for a spritz made up of Aperol and sparkling water or my favorite Campari. Although I am not recommending you start drinking bitter alcohol before every meal, I do recommend trying something bitter to stimulate digestion. This can be a simple salad of arugula, a sip of digestive bitters or 1-3 tsp of apple cider vinegar in water.
Wishing you a Healthy Gut!