The dreaded “COVID 19” has taken on meaning other than the virus that has shut down the globe. Another meaning alludes to the amount of weight some folks have put on while they have locked themselves away during the pandemic. Fortunately, most folks are taking action to address their weight gain. And just as likely, some folks are finding out that losing that weight isn’t as easy as they thought it should be.
What is going on? Why is it difficult to lose weight? What changed?
1.Lack of Sleep: You stay up late, you are likely to snack. Lack of sleep also raises hormone levels, causing you to feel hungry.
2. Stress: Have you felt a little stressed lately? I don’t know why? I mean, your whole has likely been turned upside down. The kids are always home, you are always home, you can’t see family or friends, and all your activities have been shuttered. Why do you feel stressed? (I really need a sarcasm font)
3. Antidepressants: Yep, this is a side effect of taking antidepressants. Talk to your doctor is you believe they are adding to your weight gain.
4. Steroids: Anti-inflammatory steroids can cause water retention and increased appetite.
5. Prescription Drugs: Anti-psychotic, high blood pressure, diabetes, as well as drugs for migraines and seizures are linked to weight gain.
6. “The Pill”: Weight gain from estrogen/progestin combination pills are temporary.
7. Hypothyroidism: This condition can make you feel tired and weak, slowing your metabolism, thus leading to weight gain.
8. Menopause: You may see some weight gain due to hormonal issues, but most of the weight gain is likely due to slowing metabolism. Staying active keeps your metabolism active.
9. Cushing’s Syndrome: Are you experiencing weight gain in the neck and upper back? This could be Cushing’s Syndrome, a condition where the body over produces the hormone cortisol.
10. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: This is a condition common for women of childbearing age, and this hormonal imbalance can make women insulin resistant, thus gaining weight.
11. Quitting Smoking: Yes, you should quit smoking. Yes, you will likely gain some weight. BUT, the weight will likely go away in a few weeks. Your eating is an addiction coping mechanism that eventually goes away.
Bottom line, if you are gaining weight and you are finding it difficult to lose the weight, talk to your doctor. Some of the conditions mentioned here will need the expertise of a doctor to diagnose and treat. If you doctor gives you a clean bill of health, he/she can readily recommend a number of best practices to help you lose the weight can you to a healthy place.
If you have comments, please leave them below as we would love to hear from you about your experiences.
In last week’s Health article, we gave focus to the dietary mineral zinc and how it could prove to be a warrior in the fight against COVID 19. https://wide-body.com/2020/10/07/zinc-a-promising-warrior-in-the-fight-against-covid-19/ This week , I want us to explore a little bit more in detail about why we may or may not want to consume zinc supplements, and how to determine whether you are or are not consuming the correct amount of zinc in your diet.
Why Use Zinc?
Why would anyone want to consume zinc supplements? It turns out that zinc is a nutrient found throughout the body and plays a vital part in our immune system, metabolic function, healing wounds, and our senses of taste and smell. Additional research is also leading us to believe that zinc helps the body control its blood sugar, fight acne, slow macular degeneration, and improve heart health by lowering triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Considering how zinc is involved in some very important boy functions, it seems like a simple decision to begin taking zinc supplements, right? But there are other considerations before you buy that first bottle of zinc.
What is Zinc Deficiency?
From the National Institutes of Health, “Zinc deficiency is characterized by growth retardation, loss of appetite, and impaired immune function. In more severe cases, zinc deficiency causes hair loss, diarrhea, delayed sexual maturation, impotence, hypogonadism in males, and eye and skin lesions. Weight loss, delayed healing of wounds, taste abnormalities, and mental lethargy can also occur.”
Recommended Daily Allowance of Zinc
What Are Good Food Sources of Zinc?
It turns out that zinc deficiency is rare in the Western world because of the western diet. Note the amount of zinc found in foods, particularly meats, that are commonly consumed on daily basis.
It is likely you are consuming enough zinc in your regular diet. But what if you are a vegetarian or vegan, and thus not consuming foods such as meat? Then supplements should be considered.
Isn’t All Zinc the Same?
In the tables above, they were showing you volumes of “elemental” zinc. Here’s the rub, the human body is unable consume elemental zinc, thus in order to get zinc into our bodies, we must consume zinc found in other forms, such as meats, and then our body pulls the nutrient out of the meat.
Zinc supplements much the same way as food in that they contain zinc in a form that we can consume, and then our bodies will pull out the elemental zinc in way that we can use it. Nonetheless, there is still confusion in marketplace because there appears to be several types of zincs used in zinc supplements.
Here is a break down of the types of zincs in supplements
Zinc gluconate: As one of the most common over-the-counter forms of zinc, zinc gluconate is often used in cold remedies, such as lozenges and nasal sprays
Zinc acetate: Like zinc gluconate, zinc acetate is often added to cold lozenges to reduce symptoms and speed up the rate of recovery
Zinc sulfate: In addition to helping prevent zinc deficiency, zinc sulfate has been shown to reduce the severity of acne. Zinc sulfate has been shown to upset stomachs, so consider using it as a topical ointment only.
Zinc picolinate: Some research suggests that your body may absorb this form better than other types of zinc, including zinc gluconate and zinc citrate
Zinc orotate: This form is bound to orotic acid and one of the most common types of zinc supplements on the market
Zinc citrate: One study showed that this type of zinc supplement is as well-absorbed as zinc gluconate but has a less bitter, more appealing taste
Zinc gluconate is the most common on the market, but zinc picolinate is the easiest to absorb. Shop around for what makes the best sense for your wallet. But whatever you do, DO NOT use nasal sprays with zinc. These sprays have been linked to a loss of smell. Fortunately, most of these products have been pulled from shelves in the US.
How much Zinc is in Your Supplement?
Now that we know there are different types of zinc, and important thing to find out is how much elemental zinc is in your supplement. Some supplement companies do a better job than others in noting the amount of elemental zinc in the supplement. Here is the percentage of elemental zinc found in various zincs:
Zinc Gluconate: 14%
Zinc Acetate: 20%
Zinc Sulfate: 23%
Zinc Picolinate: 21%
Zinc Orotate: 17%
Zinc Citrate: 34%
Too Much of a Good Thing, IS BAD!
The upper limit of zinc intake should not surpass 40mg per day for adults, and long term dosages this high can cause adverse effects such as copper and iron deficiency in the body, as well as nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and headaches. There is really no reason to consume more zinc than your body needs.
People at Risk of Zinc Deficiency
People with gastrointestinal diseases: These folks generally have a difficult time absorbing nutrition because of their disease
Vegetarians & vegans: The nature of the diets, being that they eschew meats and thus one of the largest sources of dietary zinc, means that these folks have a greater than normal risk of zinc deficiency.
People with Sickle Cell Anemia: Because the blood cells are misshapen, people with sickle cell anemia have a difficult transporting zinc through the body.
Alcoholic: Alcohol consumption retards the absorption of zinc
In my opinion, considering that we are in the midst of a world wide pandemic, and additional intake of zinc appears warranted. I do consume meat, so any supplement I take will be low in dosage.
Let me know your thoughts on this topic. Will you start taking zinc now? Are you already taking zinc, and will you now raise or lower the amount you consume? Will you start taking zinc, but wait for a time when you believe it is most needed, like during cold and flu season? Or will you not take zinc, feeling that you consume enough in your food each day?
Here is some promising news in the fight against COVID 19. Spanish researchers are reporting that hospitalized COVID 19 patients with low levels of zinc in their blood stream, seem to do worse than those with healthier levels of the minerals.
“Lower zinc levels at admission correlate with higher inflammation in the course of infection and poorer outcome,” said a team led by Dr. Roberto Guerri-Fernandez of the Hospital Del Mar in Barcelona.
“It has long been thought that zinc bolsters the immune system,” said pulmonologist Dr. Len Horovitz, of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “A possible explanation in this study is that zinc may have an anti-inflammatory effect that is protective.”
What the researchers found is that those who died of COVID 19 (about 8% of patients) zinc in the blood stream at an average of 43 mcg/dL, where as the group that recovered had an average of 63 mcg/dL.
This is huge news, especially for those folks already consuming zinc as an immunity booster.
More studies need to be completed as this was a small study and it was unable to tie case and effect. Nonetheless, this news is promising and hopeful.
The research was presented September 22nd as part of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Disease (ESCMID) Conference on Coronavirus Disease. The research is being peer reviewed and is expected to be published soon.
Sometimes, you need to take a break from your daily grind. And your body will tell you when it is time to take that break. And taking a break is no sign of weakness, but is instead a sign that the mind needs to be refreshed so that it can come back stronger. So, when my work was becoming a grind, I stepped away, and now I feel great!
What can you if you need a mental health break? The actions you can take are very simple:
1. Recognize something isn’t right. That sounds easier than it really is. We train ourselves to push through barriers, to maintain mental and physical stamina, and to fight! And that is good because you should do all those things and fight. But what if that fight is no longer good enough? Then you need to recognize you need a break. And be honest with yourself, because if you take a break just because you feel lazy, the little voice in your head will start talking to you, and you will begin to feel guilty, and that is a whole other can of worms.
2. Do something physical. You may not feel like doing something physical, but action at this point is exactly what you need. Get some movement in your body, get the blood pumping, and clear your mind. We’ve discussed in other posts how physical activity is good for mental health.
3. Take some time to get away and break your current routine. Go to lunch, visit the mall, call a friend, but whatever it is, make sure it is something that is outside of your regular daily routine 4. Then get back to work. Your break doesn’t need to be multiple days or even all day. The break is just that, a break from your regular routine. You’ll find once you are back at work, your mind will fresh and you will likely have new energy and ideas.
If you have additional thoughts, please share them here. We look forward to hearing from you
Coffee drinkers REJOICE!!! Today, September 29th, is NATIONAL COFFEE DAY!!
In honor of National Coffee Day, let’s review some of the health benefits of sipping your favorite cup of Joe.
7 Health Benefits of Coffee
Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes– Solid data here suggests that those who drink more than six or seven cups daily were 35% less likely to have type 2 diabetes than people who drank fewer than two cups daily. There was a smaller perk — a 28% lower risk — for people who drank 4-6 cups a day. The findings held regardless of sex, weight, or geographic location. There is good news in that decaffeinated coffee is as effective as caffeinated coffee.
Lower risk of Heart Disease, Stroke, and Arrhythmias – There is a relationship between type 2 diabetes and heart disease and strokes, thus by lowering the risk of diabetes, you lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. Call it a medical two for one special! Studies have also shown that people who reported drinking 1-3 cups of coffee per day were 20% less likely to be hospitalized for abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) than nondrinkers, regardless of other risk factors.
Lower Risk of Parkinson’s Disease – Interestingly, the science is pointing to caffeine being the reason for a decrease risk of Parkinson’s, though science is unsure why.
Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia– A Scandinavian study showed those who reported drinking 3-5 cups of coffee daily were 65% less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, compared with nondrinkers or occasional coffee drinkers.
Prevention of Liver Cancer – Studies are showing a strong association between regular coffee consumption and a reduced risk of liver cancer.
Improves Your Mood – Caffeine is a well-known stimulant, giving you a boost in energy. The caffeine in coffee enters the blood stream and travels to the brain where it blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter adenosine. Once blocked, the brain produces other neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine, which in turn improves your mood, as well as other brain functions such as memory, alertness, and reaction times.
Fight Depression – This is related to the point made above about coffee improving your mood. A Harvard study published in 2011, women who drank 4 or more cups of coffee per day had a 20% lower risk of becoming depressed, and another study in 208,424 individuals found that those who drank 4 or more cups per day were 53% less likely to die by suicide.
Down sides to coffee?
This article is not intended to encourage you to swim in a vat of coffee. There are known issues with the over consumption of caffeine, and they include anxiety, fatigue, addiction, high blood pressure, insomnia, and digestive issues.
For most people, it will be the ingredients they add to their coffee that will take away from the benefits listed above. An enormous amount of sugar and saturated fats is found in specialty coffee drinks. These drinks eliminate any benefit of coffee and lead to a higher risk of diabetes, weight gain, higher blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. These specialty coffee drinks should always be avoided.
Bottomline, if you enjoy drinking coffee, continue to do so as there are tremendous for doing so. But if you add large amounts of sugar or fats to your coffee, you are likely negating all those benefits and potentially causing more harm. Consider replacing your sugar with a non-sugar solution such as plant-based stevia.
Kudos to the folks at Healthline and WebMD for the information I was able to collect for this article.
This is part 2 of a two- part article focused on sugar addiction. In this article, I will discuss the historical sugar consumption in the US, how the level of consumption in the US compares to other countries, how to recognize hidden sugars, the ways you can break a sugar addiction, and a plan for moving forward.
Historical Sugar Consumption in the US
I think historical context is important as it will give a context as to how much our sugar consumption has grown through the years.
You can see that our appetite for sugar has grown steadily for nearly 200 years. Interestingly, the period from the 1920’s through 1960’s, the consumption of sugar was relatively flat. Then in the ‘60s, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) hit the market, creating a boom in processed foods, and a resulting increase in sugar consumption.
How does the consumption of sugar in the US stand up to consumption in other countries? Historical perspectives are difficult to obtain, but here is a view of the DAILY consumption.
Average Daily Sugar Consumption Per Person (grams)
Clearly, the US leads in consumption. Those daily numbers equate into approximately 130lbs of sugar consumed by every American, each year. 126grams equates to a little more than 25 teaspoons. The USDA recommendation for sugar consumption is that it should not exceed 10% of the individual’s daily calorie intake. For a standard 2000 calorie diet, 10% equates to 13 teaspoons, or 65grams. That means, on a daily basis, Americans are consuming 2X the amount of sugar that is recommended.
I do find it interesting that other Western nations fill out the Top 10 spots. Since the US is a country of immigrants and initially founded by folks of the West, I wonder if our collective immigrant experience has influenced our sugar consumption. Maybe a food historian can run with that idea and see if there is a story to be had.
Where Is All the Sugar Going?
I’m surprised at all the places where you can find sugar. A really good place to better understand where sugar is hidden is at sugarstacks.com. On the site, they pictorially point out how much sugar in the foods many Americans regularly consume. They use sugar cubes to represent 4 gram increments of sugar (1 teaspoon is equal to 5 grams)
So, check out these surprises
I think these pictures are enlightening. If so, you are probably now asking, “How do I kick this sugar habit?” Let’s take that on next.
How to Break A Sugar Addiction
The advice below is based upon recommendations from the psychologist and the Cleveland Clinic. The Cleveland Clinic has a 10 Day Sugar Detox program and I refence that program in the links below.
Steps you can take to break a sugar addiction
Recognize the issue : I shared my story in part 1 of this story. For me, it was the realization that I had a craving to eat, and yet, I wasn’t hungry. The body was craving the dopamine hit.
Look for triggers: Do you binge eat when you are stressed; when you are tired or go through an extended period of little sleep; After consuming alcohol, you just have to have something to eat, you consistently binge at the same time of the day. Recognize these triggers and you can be mentally prepared to say to yourself, “I am not hungry, and I will not allow sugar to rule my life”
Remove temptation: Remove all the sweet and starchy food from your home. If you are craving the food bad enough, you will drive to the store. 9 times out of 10, the craving will go away before you arrive at the store.
Drink more water: 1oz water for every 2lbs of weight. A 100lbs person should drink 50oz of water each day.
Have a plan for when you have a craving: Keep healthy snacks nearby. Eat some lean protein and something high in unsaturated fats, e.g. nuts and avocado.
Track your results: If you slip, fine. Don’t beat yourself up. Look at how many days you did not slip and how well you are doing
Get help: If you find this process to be overwhelming or too difficult, get help from a trained psychologist.
A few thoughts on going “Cold Turkey” vs a Moderation approach. Some folks advocate for a moderation approach with the belief that you can wean yourself off of sugar. Their theory goes that it is too difficult to get away from sugar because it is in so much food, so we should slowly wean people off sugar and show them a way to live with lower consumptions of sugar. This theory is one used by folks who wean themselves off of nicotine.
My belief is that moderation does not work for sugar addictions, and that is because nicotine addiction is different and reacts differently in the brain. Sugar addiction is more like an opioid, and going cold turkey has shown to work best in these types of addictions.
What Can You Expect to Happen When You Quit Sugar?
Nearly 40 percent of Americans are considered obese. By eliminating sugar, not only will you lose weight, you will also lower your risks of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke due to high blood pressure. Cutting out sugar could also help you eliminate acid reflux, migraines, joint pain, rashes, anxiety, and irritable bowel syndrome. And although we associate sugar as a quick energy boost, eating less of it could improve your energy levels overall.
Here are some simple steps that could have a profound impact on you health.
Be conscious of what you eat: Remember what you saw in the Sugar Stacks example? Sugar is hidden in many products
Read the labels: Since sugar is hidden, read the labels on the food you purchase. Look for the added sugar and eliminate those foods from your diet
Consume More Complex Carbohydrates: Leafy green vegetables are a very good example. Look for vegetable high in fiber
Consumer More Lean Protein and Foods high in unsaturated fats: Fish, poultry, nuts and avocados have the protein and fats to make you feel full, and lessen the likely hood that you will be hungry and trigger a craving.
Remember, you only need 13 grams, or less, of sugar a day. That is only 3 sugar cubes.
Best of luck to you. Please comment below if you have fought through sugar addiction and won, or if you are now recognizing that something isn’t right with you, and you are beginning your fight.
This article is about sugar addiction, the medical research behind sugar addiction, how we should be defining “sugar”, and how sugar acts in the body. In a second article, I will discuss the historical sugar consumption in the US, how the level of consumption in the US compares to other countries, how to recognize hidden sugars, the ways you can break a sugar addiction, and a plan for moving forward. Before we start, I’ll share my personal view into what sugar addiction looks like. Maybe you’ve had something similar happen to you.
I took notice that something wasn’t quite right when I was consistently hungry at 10pm each evening. There was this gnawing desire, a craving for something to eat. What finally clued me in that something was wrong was when I realized that I wasn’t really hungry, but I still wanted something to eat. The pantry was nearly empty, but there were leftovers from the evening’s meal in the refrigerator. But I didn’t want the food in the frig. I wanted chips, or cookies, or bread! If I were hungry, I would have willingly accepted the finely cooked chicken, but my craving was saying “NO, ONLY EAT BREAD”. And that is when I woke up to a realization that maybe I had a problem.
Fortunately, I had a visit already scheduled with my doctor, and I asked him “Is sugar addiction really a ‘thing’?” And that is when he showed me this pic.
The picture startled me, and I knew I needed to do more research on the topic of sugar addiction.
What do Medical Researchers say?
When the first research papers came out and drew conclusions that sugar could be an addictive substance, the research was widely ignored as sugar is a substance that has been with us for a millennium or more. In a part 2 to this paper, I’ll show how it is the amount of sugar that we ingest each day for being the culprit of triggering sugar addictions today. Nevertheless, more research continues to be published and a growing body of evidence is now showing a direct connection between sugar consumption and addiction. Here are some noted researchers and what they have found.
Eric Stice, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at the Oregon Research Institute, used fMRI scans to find that sugar triggers the same brain regions that are triggered when a person uses drugs like cocaine. Dr. Stice also found that heavy users of sugar develop tolerance, i.e. needing more and more to feel the same effect, which is a symptom of addiction.
Nora Volkow, M.D., a psychiatrist at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, completed similar research using imaging techniques of the brain and found similarities between the brains of people who are obese and people who abuse drugs and alcohol.
Nicole Avena, Ph.D., a psychologist at Princeton University, was even able to induce sugar dependency in rats.
And yet, there are still critics to this research. An article in the European Journal of Nutrition (EJN) reviewed some of the science and concluded that sugar addiction is not real. The EJN states that binging on so-called junk foods only occurs in the context of food deprivation and that obesity can be controlled by eating in moderation—even allowing for the consumption of junk food every now and then.
Before drawing a conclusion on the veracity of sugar addiction claims, let’s observe what is happening in the body when someone consumes food.
Sugar in the Body The processing of carbohydrates into glucose is how the body creates energy for itself to use. Dopamine, the chemical in the brain that is released to make us feel good, is released we digest food and begin to turn food into glucose. The dopamine makes us feel good, and the more sugar we consume, the more dopamine is released. The spike in glucose gives us energy, making us also feel good
Simple carbs (starches) and table sugar (sucrose) quickly turn into glucose once consumed, and thus quickly triggers a flood of dopamine. The instant flood of glucose is too much for the body to manage, thus there is a secondary trigger, one that causes a spike in insulin. The insulin kicks the liver into gear to capture the excess glucose and turn it into fat which is stored around the belly. This fat is the evolutionary way of storing energy for those days when ancient man didn’t have a consistent food source. Now when the insulin spikes, the source of energy is pulled from the body, put into fat storage, and “crash”. This crash feels as if we ran out of energy, and essentially, we did, and so we begin to feel terrible. The body says, “I know how to feel good! Give me some more sugar, the dopamine will kick in, and we’ll feel great!” And this is how the cycle of addiction starts. Throw in the fact that the fat that is being stored in the body is not being burned off, you’ve created additional health issues like heart disease, high blood pressure, and the onset of diabetes.
This is a good time to put some definitions around “What is Sugar?”
When we say “sugar”, what should be concerned about? What is “sugar”:
White flour used to make breads, cookie, cakes, and other baked goods
Starches found in some vegetables and fruits: Potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, corn, bananas, plantains
Starches found in processed grains: white rice, rolled oats, farina,
Natural Sugars: Honey and Agave Syrup
Should we be concerned about fruit (fructose)? Fructose is tied up in fiber when it is consumed as fresh whole fruit, and thus takes longer to release into the body. This prevents the spikes in glucose and the impending crash. YOU MUST AVOID fruit juices (the fructose is no longer bunched in the fiber) and canned fruit that canned in light of heavy syrup (sucrose).
What is the definition of an addiction?
To define what is an addiction, we have the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is a guidebook widely used by mental health professionals to diagnose many mental health conditions. This is the fifth edition of the book. The food does not specifically call out “sugar addiction”, but it does recognize “Binge Eating Disorder”, which is essentially what we are discussing regarding sugar addiction. The symptoms of binge eating disorder are:
Eating much more rapidly than normal.
Eating until feeling uncomfortably full.
Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry.
Eating alone because of feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating.
Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty afterward.
Based upon what we’ve read here, I think it is evidently clear that Yes, sugar can be addictive and sugar addiction is a very real issue.
In part 2, I will discuss the historical sugar consumption in the US, how the level of consumption in the US compares to other countries, how to recognize hidden sugars, the ways you can break a sugar addiction, and a plan for moving forward. Stay tuned.
Have you been feeling more anxious than normal? The reason may not be in your head, but in your gut.
During the pandemic, medical professionals have reported higher than normal incidences of patients feeling anxious and less mentally focused than before the pandemic. While feeling stress during this time is understandable, it turns out that the foods we eat can also impact our mental wellbeing.
Most of us known the importance of gut health, i.e. a healthy gut equals a healthy body. This is what the University of California at Davis Health says about gut health, “All food is ultimately broken down in the gut to a simple form that can enter the bloodstream and be delivered as nutrients throughout our bodies. This is only possible with a healthy digestive system. A healthy gut contains healthy bacteria and immune cells that ward off infectious agents like bacteria, viruses and fungi. A healthy gut also communicates with the brain through nerves and hormones, which helps maintain general health and well-being.”
The Brain-Gut Connection
The fact that there is a brain-gut connection is something many folks don’t know or understand. At the Johns Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology, research is showing that the gut plays an even greater role in our overall mood that we ever suspected. The enteric nervous system (ENS), comprised of two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells lining the gastrointestinal tract from esophagus to rectum, has the main role of is controlling digestion, from swallowing to the release of enzymes that break down food to the control of blood flow that helps with nutrient absorption to elimination. It turns out that the ENS may trigger big emotional shifts experienced by people coping with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional bowel problems such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, pain and stomach upset. Science originally thought that anxiety and depression contributed to these problems, but research now appears to show it is the other way around. This new research is leading scientists to consider that the gut also plays a larger role in our cognition (thinking skills and memory) too.
What Can You Do To Improve Your Gut Health
Probiotics: Foods high in probiotics promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut. This helps good break down completely, allowing better absorption of nutrients into the body. Food high in probiotics include yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, and fresh sauerkraut. NOTE: Yogurts and kefir tend to be high in sugars because that makes the taste more palatable, thus they may not work in many diets. Kombucha carries a trace amount of alcohol. For most people, the alcohol is minimal and not a concern, but it could be a concern for those taking certain prescription drugs. When buying kimchi and sauerkraut, you need to buy these fresh and with active enzymes. Canned products have been pasteurized and thus the healthful bacteria is dead. Look for fresh products in a cold produce section of your local grocer store.
Fiber: Lots of Fruits and Vegetables each day. Think leafy greens and legumes like beans and lentils. Fiber is a bulking agent that moves food down the line like a train. This movement is important because while the body is absorbing nutrients, it is also attempting to eliminate what it doesn’t need in waste. Think of waste as poison, and you don’t want to be holding poison in your gut. A large salad contains several portions of the fiber your body wants.
Water: Water combined with fiber is like the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers of good gut health. Working together, they keep everything moving. Note that the best way to determine how much water you need each day is determined by your weight. The rule of thumb is 1oz of water for every two pounds of body weight. If you weight 100lbs., you should drink 50oz of water. If you weight 200lbs, then 100oz of water. If you regularly drink from a popular branded 30oz tumbler, count the number of times you fill the tumbler with water during the day, and you’ll get an idea how much water you drink in a day. Remember, caffeine and alcohol dehydrate you, so don’t add coffee, tea, carbonated beverage, or alcoholic beverages to your count.
Exercise: Exercise assists in the movement within your gut.
Sleep: Folks who sleep irregularly also experience nausea, bloating, and constipation. Get your sleep!
Stay away from processed foods and refined grains: Processed food, i.e. food that has been made to fit in a bag and is then shelf stable for an extended period, typically has little to no fiber nor nutritional value. Eating food like this causes harm to your gut.
Limit your consumption of fried foods: The fats used to fry food can lead to constipation because your body has a difficult time processing the fat. Besides constipation, the bad fat stays in the body, leading to bloating. To the point made earlier, you want to move the poison out of your body.
We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and let us know if you’ve made changes to your diet and how you are feeling.