Gut Health Archives - ig2go

Natural ways to de-bloat after the holidays

First off, we hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend, full of laughter, good company, and excellent food. If you are like most people, chances are your holiday plate was piled a little higher than your average everyday meal (honestly when the food is that delicious who wouldn’t savor every bite?). And if that’s the case, there’s a chance you might feel some lingering bloating sensations from the festivities. There’s absolutely no shame, we’ve all been there, and we know it can take a day or two for your gut to feel normal again. Bloating can be super uncomfortable when it sticks around, and today we’d like to share some of our favorite tips to reduce and get rid it.

What Causes Bloating?

Bloating can be caused by a number of different things, including eating too fast, too much, or eating too much of certain kinds of foods (for instance, overdoing it on your dietary fiber for the day). Bloating can also be caused by carbonated beverages, food intolerances, artificial sweeteners, or hormonal changes. Regardless of the root cause, the feeling of being bloated ultimately comes from sudden changes in your normal digestive harmony that result in excessive gas, solids, or liquids working their way through your gut.

Preventing Bloating From Happening in the First Place

  • Slow down when you eat and chew your food well before you swallow. This gives your digestive system a head start on breaking the food down, and eating slower gives your body more time to recognize when you’ve had enough.
  • Avoid talking while you’re chewing, as this can cause you to inadvertently swallow air, causing increased gas buildup in your gut.
  • Drink your beverages at room temperature, or avoid ice cold or scolding hot drinks
  • Sit up straight while you eat
  • Avoid drinking from straws, which again may cause you to swallow unnecessary air.

Help Bloating After it’s Struck

  • Go for a walk, do some gentle stretching or yoga, and move your body. Nothing extreme, but moving around will help stimulate your digestive tract and move everything along. Do what feels good to create some space and gentle twisting/massaging around your abdomen.
  • Drink plenty of water, especially if you’re bloated from overeating or overeating fiber. Not only is water simply important because your body should be well hydrated, but it also keeps your digestive tract well ‘lubricated’ so things move smoothly. Drinking water can also help flush out excess sodium, which can help ease the uncomfortable bloating sensations.
  • Drink tea, specifically peppermint tea, as it has been shown to ‘calm’ gut bacteria and reduce inflammation, easing the sensation of bloating. Dandelion Tea is also a great alternative and can act as a natural diuretic to help with bloating.
  • Try digestive enzymes, especially if you are sensitive to dairy or certain high-fiber foods. Helper enzymes like Lactaid and Beano can help you boost or support your body’s natural digestive process to speed things up.
  • Try adding some probiotics to your diet, this is good for your long-term gut health too. Probiotics can be found in most yogurts or any fermented food like Kimchi or Sauerkraut.
  • Try a bottle of our De Bloat Juice, specifically made with fruits and veggies that can reduce abdominal discomfort and keep your digestive tract moving

When Bloating Becomes a Problem

If you’re experiencing severe bloating multiple times a month, or it’s persisted for more than a few days, it never hurts to talk to a doctor. Reoccurrence may be a sign of an underlying problem or a food intolerance you might not know about. you may benefit from keeping a food journal and taking note of what foods tend to cause bloating most often.

 

 

The Link Between Anxiety & Your Food Choices

Have you heard the news? A panel of medical experts recently announced that all adults under the age of 65 should consider getting screened for anxiety. The statement stems from concern that Americans as a whole have been experiencing stressors from all angles over the past few years, resulting in a growing number of mental health concerns. Despite some lingering stigma, new studies continue to show how important mental health is, and how it affects our lives on a day-to-day basis. The good news is, there are plenty of lifestyle changes you can make to help. Today, we are going to talk about changes you can make to your diet, and the science between nutrition, and your mental state.

 

Explaining Anxiety

Anxiety comes in MANY flavors. From Agoraphobia and specific Phobia’s to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, there are many different conditions that can fall under the umbrella of anxiety. Some forms are more obstructive to everyday life than others, and each person may experience different intensities of these disorders depending on a number of factors. The most common form of anxiety is Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which is what we will primarily focus on in this article.

Generalized Anxiety disorder happens when there is an imbalance between your brains Prefrontal Cortex (the part of your brain responsible for cognitive control functions and decision making) and the Amygdala (the part of your brain linked to processing emotions and memories associated with fear or threats). Under normal circumstances, your Prefrontal Cortex regulates your Amygdala and is able to manage any threat responses that may be stimulated. However, the Amygdala of a person with Anxiety often goes unchecked, and the Amygdala may generate stress or fear signals even without an obvious physical threat.

Essentially what this leads to is a consistent feeling of fear or unease. Symptoms of this kind of Anxiety can include elevated heart rate, flushed skin, tense muscles, inability to concentrate or focus, irritability, insomnia, and general fatigue.

 

Anxiety, Neurotransmitters, and Your Second Brain

Second brain? Yes, you read that right. Believe it or not, your gut is embedded with some 100 million neurons (more than what makes up your spinal cord or peripheral nervous system) and is technically called the Enteric nervous system. Although this ‘second brain’ plays zero part in any cognitive functions, it does play a vital role in our mental state and combatting a number of diseases throughout the body (no surprise there).

This system sends and receives signals from the brain, and secretes neurotransmitters identical to those found in the central nervous system (eg, acetylcholine, dopamine, and serotonin). These neurotransmitters are the key connection between your diet, your gut, and your mental health. Studies have shown that there is a correlation between your gut’s microbiome, and it’s secretion of these neurotransmitters.

Low levels of serotonin specifically have been linked to higher levels of anxiety and depression. For example, many anxiety and depression prescriptions work by blocking the reuptake of serotonin so more of it remains in circulation throughout your body. Going back to what we said about the Brain, higher serotonin levels help the prefrontal cortex communicate and regulate the threat responses of the amygdala.

So to sum it up, a healthy gut = a healthy gut microbiome = healthy levels of important neurotransmitters = healthy communication in the brain = reduced chances of unnecessary or unregulated fear responses = reduced anxiety and anxiety symptoms.

 

That’s great, but how does our diet help?

So we’ve determined that our gut health is really important, and the best way to keep our guts healthy is to eat a wide variety of nutrient-dense whole foods. Specifically, look for food with the following:

  • Fiber – Helps the body slow down the absorption of glucose, which prevents spikes in blood sugar levels and avoids sugar crashes.
  • Antioxidants – Helps to prevent inflammation in the gut and throughout the body.
  • Folate – Promotes production of the neurotransmitter Dopamine.
  • Vitamin D – Promotes production of the neurotransmitter Serotonin.
  • Magnesium – Promotes healthy protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation.
  • Fermented foods – The superfood of gut health, fermented foods are packed with probiotics, or healthy gut bacteria, that are essential to a healthy gut microbiome.

 

Foods that make Anxiety worse.

Although these foods don’t CAUSE anxiety, the effect they have on our bodies may mimic symptoms and make your existing anxiety feel even worse.

  • Processed food, and sugary drinks – an obvious culprit, as processed foods are usually lacking good fiber and nutrient density, while also being high in sugar, bad fats, and sodium. This leads to spikes in blood sugar levels and crashes where you feel fatigued more easily. They also provide very little, if any, nutritional benefits to your gut.
  • Caffeine – Often used as a stimulant to help people feel more awake, alert, or energetic, caffeine’s effects can quickly get out of hand and cause you to feel jittery, and irritable, and can increase your heart rate to uncomfortable levels.
  • Alcohol – Sometimes used as a way to cope with anxiety, alcohol’s long-term negative effects on the body can be serious, and often cause imbalances in bodily systems and sleep patterns.

 

Quick disclaimer:

As we stated at the beginning of this post, anxiety comes in MANY different shapes and sizes. And although we’ve explored how your food choices can help, it’s important to recognize that these lifestyle changes may not be enough in some circumstances, and we encourage you to talk to your doctor if your anxiety is disrupting your everyday life. Mental health is important, and we believe it should always be taken seriously.

 

 

Why Fermented Foods are Good for Your Gut

You’ve probably heard at least once that fermented foods are good for your digestive tract. But have you ever explored the reasons why? We’re diving into those details today to answer your questions, and to figure out how fermented foods occur, and what benefits they actually offer to our digestive system.

What is Fermentation?

Fermenting foods is not new, in fact, it’s been around for thousands of years and is one of the earliest methods of food preservation. Fermentation is the process that happens when Microorganisms like bacteria and yeast are introduced to help break down some of the food’s components. Most often those components are Sugar or Glucose, and they are broken down into alcohol or acids.

Fermentation is able to preserve food because the microorganisms responsible for the fermentation end up overtaking and destroying any bad bacteria in the food would lead to food-borne illnesses. Any microorganisms that are left, are considered GOOD bacteria and are safe for consumption by humans. It’s important to note that although fermentation is relatively simple, proper fermentation does require specific safety steps in order to limit the chance of something going awry.

Fermentation is responsible for such delights as Wine, Beer, Liquor, Cheese, Sourdough, Yogurt, Etc. Each of these fermentation by-products requires specific steps and even different microorganisms to come out as intended.

Human Bodies and Fermentation

Fermentation happens in two main ways within the human body. The first is in our muscle cells. When our cells run out of their primary energy source, ATP, they start producing extra ATP through Lactic Acid Fermentation for more energy. If you’ve ever sprinted and experienced a stitch in your side, that’s most likely the build-up of this lactic acid being created by your muscle cells.

The second form of fermentation that our bodies go through is a huge part of our digestive process. Our guts are home to hundreds of different bacteria species, working in harmony with our digestive and immune systems to break down complex carbohydrates and aid in nutrient absorption. Our bodies rely on this gut biome to function properly and to help fend off any bad bacteria that make their way into our digestive tract. Each person’s biome is slightly different, ad those differences are dependent on the person’s environment, diet, and unique body needs and requirements.

How Fermented foods benefit the body

  1. Fermented food with a living population of good bacteria or yeast, also called “Probiotics”, help your body’s own gut biome maintain its balance. When a gut biome is lacking diversity, or when they are weak due to poor nutritional intake, it can lead to a number of health problems that affect your whole body. Symptoms can include inflammation, IBS, and leaky gut syndrome.
  2. Probiotics help with food digestion of complex carbs and synthesizing certain vitamins like B12 and vitamin K.
  3. Anti-biotics are incredibly useful for many health conditions, but even though they are intended to attack the bad bacteria, they can still wreak havoc on our healthy gut biome. Probiotics can help restore that good bacteria and keep our digestive system working smoothly.
  4. On top of that, your overall gut health is thought to be linked to so many other systems, including bladder health, oral care, plaque build-up, pain sensitivity, blood pressure and blood sugar, and even brain health.

What fermented foods should you be eating?

It’s important to remember that not all fermented foods are going to provide the same benefits. Wine, cheese, and sourdough may all involve fermentation, but the final products no longer contain any live probiotic cultures. If you’re looking to add some probiotics to your diet, we would suggest the following:

  1. Kefir – a fermented dairy drink, thinner than yogurt, and excellent with fresh berries.
  2. Yogurt with live cultures – again, make sure the yogurt you choose says it contains live cultures, as not all yogurt will.
  3. Kombucha – a fermented tea drink, fizzy, somewhat tart, but very refreshing.
  4. Tempeh – fermented soybeans that have been compressed into a cake or patty. Commonly uses as a vegan meat substitute.
  5. Miso – also made by fermenting soybeans, but is ground down to a past that can be used in soup or sauces.
  6. Kimchi – Korean fermented vegetables, commonly used as a condiment or side dish in Asian cuisine
  7. Sauerkraut – fermented cabbage from eastern European cuisine. Also used commonly as a condiment on a number of popular dishes.

Are fermented foods safe for everyone?

Fermented foods are generally considered safe for most people. Anyone with a Histamine Intolerance should, or anyone who is immuno-compromised should consult their doctor for individual guidance. And it’s also important to know where your fermented foods are coming from. It’s not safe to play with bacteria if you’re not sure what you’re doing. Proper fermentation requires sterile equipment and proper temperature control. Most commercially available fermented foods should be safe, but we highly recommend you follow a vetted recipe if you are attempting to ferment at home.

How much should you be eating?

There’s not really a right answer to this question. If you’re new to fermented foods, eating too much at once may lead to some uncomfortable bloating. A good place to start is a single serving per day for the first few weeks, and working up from there. Listen to your body, and talk to your doctor if anything doesn’t feel right. Every individual is different, and every probiotic stain is a little different. It may take time to find out what cultures benefit your body the most, and how often your gut really benefits from that extra boost.

Not all Gluten Intolerance is the Same

“Gluten intolerance”, “Gluten allergy”, “Celiac”, and “gluten sensitive”, you’ve probably heard all of these before but what do these terms mean, and what’s the difference?

Although the majority of people digest and process gluten with no problem, about 6% of the US population has some form of intolerance to gluten. And by intolerance, we mean that the body has an adverse immune response when gluten is ingested. But just like everything else, no body is the same, and everyone who lives with gluten intolerance experiences different levels of sensitivity.

We are going to demystify and de-stigmatize these different levels of gluten intolerance, and offer some tips to be more accommodating to gluten intolerant guests and people in your life.

 

One of the most severe forms of this immune response is Celiac disease. Effecting only about 1% of the population, symptoms of Celiac disease can be very difficult to manage without taking steps to minimize exposure to gluten. Most symptoms stem outwardly from an immune response that causes the body to attack the digestive tract when gluten has been ingested. This causes a cascading set of symptoms in other bodily symptoms such as:

  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Diarrhea and constipation

 

The second most severe form of Gluten sensitivity is Gluten Ataxia. Like Celiac disease, this is also an immune response that causes the body to attack your brain an neurological system when gluten is ingested. Although Gluten Ataxia is pretty rare, it is nonetheless very serious.

 

For some people, the immune response may not be as strong and aggressive. These people are considered to be “gluten intolerant”. Symptoms may not be as severe, and they may not be as sensitive to trace amounts of gluten as those with Celiac would be. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect their day-to-day lives, and that they shouldn’t still be careful. For people with gluten intolerance, symptoms might include:

  • Bloating or stomach pain
  • Diarrhea and constipation
  • Headaches or brain fog
  • Depression and anxiety

 

Last but not least, some people may not be sensitive to gluten specifically, but they could be allergic to wheat. This is more commonly seen in children under the age of 12, and only about 35% of children don’t grow out of the allergy as they get older. A wheat allergy causes symptoms similar to other allergic reactions, such as:

  • Skin rashes
  • digestive issues
  • Nasal congestion and Anaphylaxis

 

All that being said, gluten sensitivity is a serious condition that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It is important to understand that gluten-sensitive people do not have a choice in how their body decides to respond, and they have every reason to be cautious and proactive when it comes to what they eat when they are not cooking for themselves. Gluten is a sneaky food, that can often hide in unexpected places, such as soy sauce, deli meats, and even some flavored potato chips.

 

If you have a gluten-sensitive person in your life, you’re likely familiar with the steps you should take to prevent gluten contamination between foods. If you don’t, and accommodating a gluten intolerant guest is new to you, some of our top recommendations would be:

  • use separate, clean utensils when preparing or serving gluten-free foods
  • use separate serving dishes for gluten-free foods
  • substiture gluten-free ingredients to modify a recipe when needed. there are tons of amazing options available today.
  • Cook from scratch when possible
  • Read the ingredient labels thoroughly
  • Talk to the gluten-sensitive person to understand what their preferences are and learn from their experiences directly.

 

A Word From IG

At IG, we understand how important it is for our gluten-free customers to have options, and to trust the food that they buy is truly gluten-free if it’s labeled that way. We are strong supporters of our gluten-free community in Tampa, and we work diligently to provide a wide variety of Gluten free baked goods and dishes. Our recipes are the result of years of trial and error because we believe that just because a cupcake is gluten-free, that doesn’t mean it can’t still be delicious. Everyone deserves to eat what they love, and love what they eat.

IS YOUR GUT MAKING YOU CRAZY?

We Welcome Guest Blogger and Friend Sarah Bingham founder of Fast Food Healing.

Sarah is a licensed nutrition consultant with a master’s degree and more than thirty-five years experience counseling and lecturing on all aspects of nutrition throughout the country. Her current focus is in family nutrition, helping parents recover their children from conditions like autism, ADD, ADHD, asthma and other learning/behavior issues. She is also a dynamic and passionate speaker who communicates with clarity, humor and inspiration the simplicity of achieving wellness.

Sarah works as the Director of Nutritional Programs for Valle Counseling in Tampa, FL. She is a certified GAPS (Gut and Psychology/Physiology Syndrome) practitioner (see www.gaps.me). Sarah is the founder of Fast Food Healing LLC, a personalized in-home nutrition counseling business. Sarah always addresses body, mind and spirit as they are all critical to a healthy body.

Following is an article Sarah shared with us.  Did you know that 80-90% of your neurotransmitters (chemicals that effect your mood and brain function) are created in your gut? Also, the seat of your immune system is in your gut. Hence, that old saying, “I’ve got a gut feeling” is quite accurate. Hence, what research is beginning to put together is if your mood, mind or behavior are off, you have a very good chance of having a gut that is off and a poor immune system.

What do I mean by “off”? Your gut is loaded (about 4 pounds) with good guy bacteria. This good guy bacteria keeps in check the potentially bad guy bacteria that is also present. All of these microbes have important functions, like creating B vitamins, neurotransmitters, and anti-cancer substances. When the good guys are winning, your mood and ability to think are in great shape. Your immune system is also in good shape. But, when the bad guys are winning, you could be suffering from any one of these conditions: Irritable bowel, reflux, ADD, ADHD, asthma, autism, bipolar disease, food allergies and intolerance, depression, dyslexia, autoimmune disease and more.

What causes your gut to become out of balance? Antibiotics, stress, the birth control pill, most prescription drugs and a diet high in processed foods. So, take a mother to be who has eaten a processed diet her whole life, has had a few courses of antibiotics and is now pregnant. Her gut “flora” or bacteria are more than likely out of balance. A baby’s gut is sterile until going through the birth canal. At this point, the baby swallows some of the mother’s vaginal fluid, which is reflective of her gut balance or imbalance. Thus, the baby’s gut is inoculated with either good guy bacteria or bad guy bacteria. And the cycle begins again.

Sometimes it’s easy to bring your gut back into balance using probiotics, lactic acid fermented foods and good whole foods and sometimes it takes a major effort to accomplish a rebalancing of the gut. When I look out at our society with lots of depression, rage, anxiety, immune dysfunction and irritable bowel, I think we all need a major revamping of our gut flora. As Hippocrates said back in 400 BC, “All disease begins in the gut.”

love your gut