Gastrointestinal distress is on the rise. I suspect 20% of my friends, family or clients suffer painful or bothersome symptoms on a regular basis or really have to work to avoid these symptoms. So why has this suffering become “quite common” per a notable Chicago GI specialist? Are we all gluten or lactose intolerant? I doubt it and now the general consensus is that is not the case. So what is going on? We know of some genetic component in several of the more serious conditions such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and gallbladder disease. Other less serious conditions can be the result of sedentary lifestyle, stress, low fiber intake, processed foods, newer chemical preservatives in foods and lack of vitamins and minerals in our produce due to changes in our soil. Whether serious or nagging, GI distress affects our quality of life. In addition, GI distress puts more stress on our bodies. Alternative and Integrative medicine experts believe “your health starts in your gut” which means if your body is busy reconciling issues in your gut, then it has less energy to run and repair other systems. My own struggles started several years ago and the idea of this chronic stress on my body concerned me. I was no spring chicken and we had kids to put through college! I did some research, spoke to my internist and gynecologist and followed their advice with little improvement. The next step was to see a GI specialist. My doctor told me I was in good company and we discussed what I had already tried and what other options remained. Medication was one option or give another multifaceted regiment a try with consistency. I chose the latter and went about my business. After 2 years and a few more regiment variations, I am closer to homeostasis. This is what I have learned on my GI journey:
- Every body is different – What works for one person may or may not work for another. Keep trying.
- Water – Drinks lots of water every day. 60-90 ounces is recommended. More if you consume caffeine.
- Take a quality probiotic – A probiotic helps balance your gut so you have better digestion and a stronger immune system. It is very difficult to get enough of these “good bacteria” in our food on a daily basis. Taking a supplement is easier and smarter. Do your research or email me for product suggestions.
- Take a fiber supplement – Fiber plays a huge role in gut health! Less than 4% of Americans eat enough fruits and vegetables to get enough daily fiber. Here is a guide: Women 25+ grams of fiber per day, men 35+g, young children 19-25g, teens 25-35g. Again there are low level and quality fiber supplements. Do your research or email me for product suggestions.
- Get Rid of Toxins in Your Home – Toxic chemicals found in everyday products have been found to increase our risk of cancer, autoimmune disorders, arthritis, mental health disorders, endocrine dysfunction and many other health issues. Look for green options in household, personal care and cosmetic lines that do not contain bleach, triclosan, paraben, formaldehyde, phosphates, ammonia and phthalates. Email me for product suggestions.
- Meditate – Stress can wreak havoc on our gut. Reduce stress when possible and when it’s part of life, consider meditating 5 minutes or more a day. More on meditation in March!
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