After a holiday filled with overeating, over snacking, late eating and too many sweets, I have been feeling like my digestive system has taken a big hit. I will spare you the details, but if you have ever had a nutritional consult with me, you know that I like to know all about digestion from ingestion to elimination. This is for good reason.
The specific symptoms of an unhealthy gut clues you in to where in our very long digestive system there is an imbalance. For instance, lots of belching or even acid regurgitation says upper digestive issues, changes in elimination point to lower digestive system. Of course a little stress from the holidays can definitely influence the process at all levels.
My self diagnosis, I pushed my gut too hard. In Chineses Medicine this is also known as spleen xu. If you can imagine your gut as a blender or a juicer and you put too much in all at once then mechanically the equipment just cannot process what is being put in. Now imagine you put so much in the blender that you have dulled the blade. The result, you have now weakened the power of the blender.
When the digestive system gets pushed too hard, its acuity also becomes dulled, making it lazy from an exhausted digestive overload. Gas, bloating, constipation, loose stool, and even stomach pain can be some of the effects. The good news? Our digestive systems are not blenders, it has the power to heal itself! You just got to give the poor thing a break.
What's the plan? Give your body lots of gut strengthening foods.
1. Eating easy to digest foods like soups which in Chinese medicine is seen as a form of pre digesting.
2. Soups with a bone broth base has added collagen which has its own healing power for the gut lining.
3. Eating enough cooked insoluble fiber found in vegetables allows for healthy elimination of toxins and works as a prebiotic for good gut bacteria to feed on.
4. Getting a large amount of probiotics, both in supplement form and in food form also has great healing capacity for the gut. A healthy gut flora is instrumental in healthy digestion and proper absorption of nutrients.
5. Drinking green juices gives you all the antioxidants and nutrition you need without depleting the gut with raw plant fiber that weakens an already sluggish digestive system.
6. Eliminate or decrease greatly sugar, processed foods and foods you know irritate your gut personally. This could be dairy, gluten, certain beans or certain vegetables.
7. Lastly timing. Eating when your hungry, eating regularly, and not overeating is huge in maintaining a healthy digestive system and giving your gut a break.
If you need some help setting up a plan for your gut reset for the new year, please let me help. Like me you will be on the road to a healthier and more robust you for 2019.
Angelica KC Acton LAc, QME, Medical Director
Orthopedics and Digestive Health at Integrative Medicine Center