• Dr. Christa O'Leary

How to Properly Feed Your Body: The Gut Connection

The gut is the center of digestion, but it also plays a large part in how our body processes and absorbs nutrients. When we eat food, the stomach breaks down what we're eating into smaller components that are easier for our intestines to digest. The intestines then absorb these nutrients and send them to different parts of the body depending on where they need to be used most. If your gut isn't healthy, you could be experiencing any number of symptoms: chronic fatigue, poor immune function, bloating, gas or even serious diseases like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. Let's explore how to get back on track with proper nutrition by paying attention to what's going on inside your gut.

The Center of Digestion

The gut is the center of digestion, but it also plays a large part in how our body processes and absorbs nutrients. When we eat food, the stomach breaks down what we're eating into smaller components that are easier for our intestines to digest. The intestines then absorb these nutrients and send them to different parts of the body depending on what they need.

What Happens When Your Gut is Out of Balance

For a healthy gut, the bacteria living in it should outnumber harmful germs and yeast. When unhealthy bacteria overtake our guts, we experience problems like bloating or gas because these bad guys manufacture things that make us uncomfortable. But when good bugs are outnumbered by their counterparts (or food is processed too quickly), they don't have enough time to produce the vitamins and other nutrients our bodies need.

What You Can Do to Fix Your Gut

Your gut is constantly changing, so it's important to maintain a good balance between what you eat and how much stress your body faces on a daily basis. Eating fermented foods like kimchi or taking probiotics can help keep bad bacteria at bay and give the good bugs a fighting chance.

How to Feed Your Gut

The key for a healthy gut is to feed it the right food. When you're eating, be conscious of what your body needs and avoid foods that are inflammatory or hard to digest. These include: dairy products like milk and cheese; fatty processed meats such as bacon, hot dogs and sausage; high-sugar foods like baked goods, candies and sugary drinks; and refined flour products such as pizza, doughnuts or pasta.

What to Eat Instead

In place of these inflammatory food items, eat plenty of vegetables that are rich in fiber (like leafy greens) and other healthy plant-based proteins (such as beans). You can also try consuming fermented foods like kefir, kimchi or sauerkraut that help cultivate good bacteria for your gut.

Breakfast Options

A healthy breakfast can start the day off right by giving you fuel to be productive and energized all morning long. Try making a smoothie with protein power (to give you staying power), fiber-rich oats, and a banana or two for sweetness.

Lunch Options

For lunchtime, it's important to have the right balance of macronutrients—protein for building muscle; carbohydrates for powering your brain through more work; fats to keep you full without adding too many calories. Try mixing white beans with sautéed kale, brown rice and garbanzo beans.

Snack Options

A snack is just as important for boosting your energy levels as a healthy meal would be—but it's also important to make sure that you're not overdoing the calories if you have bigger meals later in the day. Try making some roasted chickpeas with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Dinner Options

A healthy dinner should be the biggest meal of your day, which is why it's important to make sure that you're not skimping on calories later in the evening when all you want to do is curl up with a good book or binge-watch some TV shows. Try to make a big dinner by using the slow-cooker: Throw in some lentils, black beans and brown rice with about two cups of vegetable or chicken broth.

Conclusion

The secret to proper nutrition is all about the gut. It's important to make sure that you're feeding your body with foods that will boost your energy and help produce a healthy environment for our digestive system. Make time in between meals for snacks, but be mindful of not overdoing it on calories if you have bigger dinners later in the day. Need help getting your gut back to health? Give us a call at (830) 992-3042 to schedule an appointment with our nutritionist, Charity.



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