When it comes to digestion, your small intestine is the ‘main event’ so to speak. Lots of digestion and absorption of important macro and micro nutrients goes on there, but if you have been like most people over the holidays, you have gone a little bit overboard with all the good stuff there is to eat and enjoy, and now along with being a few pounds heavier, you notice you might have some ‘tummy rumbles’ as my daughter would say, along with some flatulence and other issues that force you to leave the room during the good parts of movies.
A lot of this is due to the fact that your guy has been ravaged by all the food that you have been eating, and you may now have some small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) which you need to address. SIBO was generally considered quackery until recently, when we started learning more about how complex the gut is, and how intimately connected it is with the nervous system.
The gut is not simply a ‘tube’ that food goes through and gets mashed up and sent into your blood stream. The gut is like a brain of its own,** and it has a very important immune function (much like the skin, which is why I am interested in learning about it). The gut keeps the outside out, BUT unlike the skin, it has to let the ‘good stuff’ in, which is a process that can be disrupted by the ‘foods of the season’ and result in things like SIBO, which can go on to affect your whole gut (stomach, esophagus, colon, etc..).
SIBO can affect a whole host of health conditions, ranging from depression to heartburn, to acne and obesity. In fact, it is pretty well established that obese people tend to have different gut bug (ie gut flora or biota) than skinny people. So, it appears that the gut plays a role as the gatekeeper for this process.
So, what are the ways you can get on track? Well, apart from eating whole foods that are nutrient dense and low-carb, here are some things I recommend to avoid and include in your diet in 2013.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS), Omega-6 fatty acids, trans-fats, wheat products (most grains and oats in general), processed foods with a long list of chemical ingredients, artificial sweeteners, diet sodas
Fermented foods like sauerkraut, unsweetened kefir, plain high-fat Greek yogurt, tea, vinegar, kombucha, homemade soups (with homemade stock preferably) or simple chicken broth, and lots of leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, chard)
This is, of course, a cursory list, but it’s one that really works for me.
What are some of the foods you like to eat to help heal your gut?
**Here is a great TED talk about the gut and the brain that you will certainly enjoy: