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Bowel Health Basics

Bowel Health 101: How to Improve your bowel health in 3 easy steps and why you need to.

Why should you care how regular, formed and gassy your bowel movements are? As most of our patients know - we spend a lot of time talking about the digestive tract - mostly about poop. I find it clinically relevant in almost every case and I estimate in about 85% of cases - it can use some fine tuning. We almost always ask how your digestion is, how your poops look and how gassy you are - at every visit. And it amazes me the varied responses to what people perceive as normal.

Here's a short (not exhaustive) list of why it's important:

  • The headquarters of the immune system lies below the single cell wall that separates the outside world from the inside world. When the immune system detects things it dislikes -- it spreads that message to the rest of the body (via Ts cells).

  • There are many neurotransmitters and neurons in the gut which is why many suggest it is the second 'brain'. There is something to be said about following your 'gut'. 95% of our serotonin is actually in the gut, not in the brain. [1]

  • This is a major excretion pathway for us - especially for hormones and pollutants! I often use the analogy of the liver as housekeeper and the bowel as the garbage man. There's no hope in getting hormones balanced and toxins out if we constantly just bag up the garbage and never take it to the curb. That's just hoarding - and then eventually the smell in the house becomes unbearable.

  • We have more 'critters' hitching a ride than we do cells in our body and we actually need this 'microbiome' to be balanced so we can thrive. Todays S.A.D diet (standard american diet) and overuse of antibiotics in agriculture and health-care can really jeopardize and destroy our microbial hitch-hikers.

-- Did you know round-up is an antibiotic? So even those tiny residues in

your non-organic foods can have a small impact on this microbial

ecosystem in your gut and complications can build over time.

  • Did you know that a whole food diet makes you 40% more resilient to stress and a mental disorder? [2]

So here are 3 easy steps to improve your bowels:

  1. Eat 3 regular size meals a day and consume only water in between. Avoid snacking. If we constantly eat, we are constantly draining our digestive enzymes and the gut is essentially overworked. Moreover, after 3-4 hours without food it begins a 'self-washing' action to help flush everything down and out. This is very necessary to keep the bacterial counts in check and things moving out.

  2. Cut back on the sugars - especially processed sugars. There is no easier food for unwanted bacteria and yeast than sugar. Start with stocking your house with healthy foods [fruit, nuts, seeds, olives, avocado, veggies] and make sure you have alternatives available. Even just reducing to 'weekends only' is going to be a big step in the right direction.

  3. Stop eating on the go. Digestion is a function of our parasympathetic nervous system. What does that mean? If you are stressed and in any kind of excitatory state - good or bad. Your digestive system just won't be able to function optimally. So stop, sit, put your phone away... hum for 1 min to activate your parasympathetic pathways, take a few deep breaths and enjoy your meal [whether it's healthy or not]. Because if you can't digest your food higher up - your bacteria will enjoy the buffet, and not the good bacteria.

There are lots of other tricks and tips - but these three have made a world of a difference for clients. They're free and easy to do. So give it a shot. If it doesn't do the trick - take our SIBO quiz and depending on your score - maybe you want to see one of our amazing NDs to get to the root of your issues.

[1] Kim, Doe-young; Camilleri, Michael.The American Journal of GastroenterologySerotonin: a mediator of the brain-gut connection; New York Vol. 95, Iss. 10, (Oct 2000): 2698-2709.

[2] Akbaraly TN, Brunner EJ, Ferrie JE, Marmot MG, Kivimaki M, Singh-Manoux A. Dietary pattern and depressive symptoms in middle age. Br J Psychiatry. 2009 Nov;195(5):408-13. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.108.058925. PMID: 19880930; PMCID: PMC2801825.

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