True Gut Health Reboot! As 2019 begins, I’m excited to announce a newly revised version of the True Gut Health Reboot program. The “True Gut Health Diet Simplified: 1-2-3” is a program that will help you personalize your own Gut Health journey. This program builds … READ MORE.
Author: Peg Desrochers
When you are avoiding Gluten, Sugar, Alcohol, Dairy, and Caffeine, etc… how do you survive the holidays season and the holiday menus? Use these 8 Holiday Gut Health Tips to help you navigate the upcoming festivities!
The Holidays can be challenging in many different ways. But if you are someone who is paying attention to your gut health – it can be a particularly challenging time! Here are some tips to help you navigate eating and drinking in a healthy way during this celebratory season.
I was inspired to write this post after our recent 7-day reboot that a group of us followed just before Thanksgiving. It was wonderful to hear about the successes that people were having and about the improvements people felt in just 7 days! But here in the U.S., anyway, Thanksgiving has come and gone. Many of us have already slipped back into old habits. And, regardless of religion, country, or locale, we are all entering a period of seasonal celebrations where it can be really difficult to navigate the food and beverage choices that are all around us!
As a result, I’ve put together this list of 8 Holiday Gut Health tips to help you keep your gut happy and healthy during the holiday season.
Holiday Gut Health Tips:
1. Minimize Sugar.
- Keep low-sugar and sugar-free desserts on hand. Have some options stored in the freezer so that you can either bring them with you or offer them as a part of your own holiday menu.
- Choose just one dessert per meal, or better yet, per day, if you can. Fruit is a good choice!
- Have a square of dark chocolate instead of a full dessert. Just a small bite of dark chocolate is often very satisfying and can help you avoid the other sugar-laden choices.
** (Watch for an upcoming post with a list of TGH friendly sugar-free and low-sugar holiday desserts.)**
2. Avoid Gluten.
- If you are a restaurant, order sides (vegetables and salads), instead of an entree as a way to avoid gluten-filled entrees.
- Bring a box of Gluten-free bread/crackers with you to a potluck or holiday meal so you have a bread/cracker choice available.
- Choose Vegetables instead of the Starch.
Gluten is a food that can be particularly difficult to avoid around the holidays. Gluten causes leaky gut EVEN in those who may not consider themselves sensitive or allergic. Therefore, we should ALL minimize or eliminate gluten. This is true even if we do not notice it affecting us in a detrimental way. Substitute buckwheat flour, cassava flour, coconut flour or other gluten-free flours for wheat whenever you can.
3. Use Digestive aids.
- Eat some Fermented Vegetables after your meal. Not only will this change your palette so that you won’t crave any sweets. But the infusion of fresh bacteria into your belly will help to digest and minimize some of the sugars that would otherwise be entering your blood stream. Fermented vegetables are also full of digestive enzymes which will help break down the food and sugars more quickly so that they can be digested. (My Favorite Brand of fermented veggies are from the company, Real Pickles)
- Take a Digestive Enzyme Supplement before each meal to help you digest your food (and sweets) more completely.
- You can use a Plant-based, full spectrum digestive enzyme.
- Or take an HCL Betaine Hydrochloride digestive support.
4. Enjoy “Mocktails” instead of Cocktails or Wine.
Here are some fun and tasty suggestions:
5. Support Your Good Bacteria!
- EAT MORE GREENS.
During the holidays eat more greens and vegetables.
Follow the 75/25% rule:
Fill your plate with 75% vegetables (preferably non-starchy vegetables), as a way to get the nutrition and fiber that your gut needs in order to keep you healthy.
- COOK MORE FIBER.
Cook with Non-digestible Fibrous Foods. Artichokes, Leeks, Broccoli, Fennel, Cabbage, Onions, Garlic, Chickpeas, Lentils, and leftover cold potatoes are among the many foods that have prebiotic fibers that will feed the good bacteria in your gut.
- ADD A PROBIOTIC SUPPLEMENT.
Add a Probiotic Supplement to your day. By adding strains of good (or “friendly”) bacteria, you can ensure that your gut remains healthy and is functioning at an optimal level.
- EAT FERMENTED FOODS.
Eat some Fermented Vegetables with/or after your dinner. This will change your palette so you won’t crave the sweets of a dessert. And the infusion of fresh bacteria into your gut will help to maintain a good balance of bacteria in your gut microbiome, as well as help to digest and minimize some of the sugars that would otherwise be entering your blood stream.
6. Drink a cup of Detox or Gut Soothing Tea.
- Enjoy a daily cup of DETOX TEA (either a daily cup of diluted tea/ or a full strength cup every few days.)
- Drink WARM WATER with fresh lemon juice and Bragg’s apple cider vinegar with a pinch of unrefined sea salt and a touch of honey before a meal to help with digestion.
- Make a Soothing GINGER TEA: Make your own Ginger tea
- Have a cup of PEPPERMINT TEA with a few drops of Peppermint Essential oil after a meal for a comforting digestive aid.
7. Add Moringa.
Moringa oleifera will support Digestion and also the Immune system. Use Moringa to make sure you are getting important vitamins and minerals every day! This nutrient-dense plant offers all of the vitamins and minerals needed daily to supplement a healthy diet.
“Hailed as a Superfood, 100 grams of dry Moringa leaf contains: 9 x’s the protein of yogurt, 17 x’s the calcium as milk, 15 x’s the potassium of bananas, 10 x’s the Vitamin A of carrots, as well as 12 x’s the Vitamin C of oranges.”
8. Manage Your Stress.
Stress is something that directly affects many aspects of our health, including our Gut Health and our Immune System. During the busyness of the holidays, it is really important to do whatever you can to lessen the stress and/or help your body deal with the stressors that are all around us. There are lots of techniques, this is a list of just a few ideas:
- Spend more time outside.
- Practice Breathing techniques.
- Do some Yoga.
- Take a Detox Bath.
- Sleep more. (Even one extra hour a night can help your immune system and also your gut health!)
Hopefully, with these 8 Holiday Gut Health Tips, you will be well equipped to not only navigate the challenges of the holidays – but also have a great time celebrating (while also keeping your gut healthy).
Wishing you a very happy, healthy Holiday Season!
True Gut Health
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There’s so much information to consider when thinking about Foods to Heal Your Gut. In fact, it can be overwhelming just figuring out where to begin. You can start by downloading the TGH 30-day reboot program. And then use this post for some ideas. These … READ MORE.
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Intermittent Fasting is just about NOT EATING FOOD, right? So why would anyone want to understand the science of how and why it works…?
In this post, I’ll do my best to make this complex topic easier to understand. My hope is that if the science behind Intermittent fasting makes sense – it will be easier to begin and follow a fasting program as a way to improve your health.
Let’s start with an overview.
First we need to explain the difference between an “Eating state” and a “Fasting state“:
- An Eating state begins when you start to eat a meal, and lasts somewhere between 3 to 5 hours after a meal is completed, while your body digests and absorbs the food you have just eaten.
- In this Eating state, your body is burning glucose from digesting carbs and proteins, and your insulin levels stay high.
- After the “Eating” state ends, your body goes into an Intermediate phase, called the “Post-absorptive” state.
- The Post-absorptive state will end somewhere 8 -12 hours after your last meal.
- It’s only after the “Post-absorptive” phase has ended that your body enters into a true “Fasting” state.
- Because the Fasting state does not actually occur until roughly 12 hours after your last meal it is rare for people who eat multiple small meals, for people who snack frequently, or for those who eat over the course of many hours of the day to ever get into an actual Fasting phase.
- This is important because it’s only when you are in the Fasting state, that your body changes its metabolism, shifting to burning FAT for fuel, instead of carbs and proteins.
- Because of this shift, your body does not need to produce insulin and as a result, your insulin levels remain low during this metabolic shift. (From The Beginners Guide to Intermittent Fasting“, by James Clear.) (3)
Summary – 3 States of Fasting:
EATING state. Burning glucose from carbs and protein, insulin, and blood sugars are high. Lasts for 3-5 hours after eating.
INTERMEDIATE/ Post-absorptive state. Lasts for 8-12 hours after the Eating State is complete.
FASTING state. Burning fat for fuel. Lasts until the next meal. Insulin levels remain low, blood sugar remains low.
The Science of Intermittent Fasting
Researchers have defined three specific ways that Fasting provides health benefits:
1. Stimulating Autophagy
2. Inhibiting mTOR Pathway
3. Inducing Ketosis
Dr. B.J. Hardick writes frequently about the health benefits of fasting. In his recent article from May 2018, he discusses the science behind fasting. “Health Benefits of Fasting: mTOR Pathway, Autophagy & Ketosis” (5)
In this article, Dr. Hardick argues that reducing your caloric intake by 20-40% is the most effective way to regulate aging and increase a healthy lifespan. Fasting is an easy way to get the benefits of this technique of calorie reduction – without the fuss of calorie counting or measuring.
“Autophagy” is the process of Spring Cleaning your cells, and it is the body’s way of recycling and removing unnecessary debris.
Cleaning up that cellular junk relieves cells from various stress conditions. Autophagy also contributes to cellular development and differentiation, suppresses tumors, and supports immunity by (among other ways) blocking invading pathogens. These and other actions improve your cells – and therefore your lifespan.
(2) mTOR Pathway
The mTOR Pathway is a process that involves enzymes and that keeps your cellular machinery running smoothly: generating energy and managing cell growth, protein synthesis, and autophagy. As a result, the mTOR pathway is an important part of sensing nutrient availability.
“When we eat carbohydrates or protein, insulin is secreted, and the increased insulin levels, or even just the amino acids from the breakdown of ingested protein, activate the mTOR pathway. The body senses that food is available and decides that since there’s plenty of energy to go around, there’s no need to eliminate the old sub-cellular machinery.”
“There is a balance here, of course. You get sick from too much Autophagy as well as too little. Which gets us back to the natural cycle of life – feast and fast. Not constant dieting. This allows for cell growth during eating, and cellular cleansing during fasting. Balance. Life is all about balance.”
Dr. Hardick also references work by Dr. Jason Fung’s, The Complete Guide to Fasting. (6)
Ketosis is one notable factor that many rely heavily on when intentionally fasting. When the body believes food sources are scarce, it turns to stores of fat for its energy, rather than using muscle and circulating carbohydrates. When the fat begins to release and burn (a process called ketogenesis), chemical byproducts called ketones are released into the urine.
For those pursuing Intermittent fasting for specific health goals, particularly weight loss, ketogenesis is often a goal. Some go as far as measuring the ketones in their urine daily with an at-home test strip. It should be noted that ketogenesis is not always considered a positive effect. For diabetics, for example, a state of ketosis is a dire one, and medical help should be accessed immediately.
“Simply put, Ketosis occurs when your body utilizes FAT – more specifically as your body metabolizes ketones, the result of fat metabolism, rather than glucose (from carbohydrates) as its primary fuel. Notice I said fat. A diet high in fat is one way to get into Ketosis. Fasting is another way because your body draws on stored fat for fuel.
Therefore, from an evolutionary perspective, this makes sense. Think about what happens when you fast for, say, 24 hours. Today you do this out of choice, but in our hunter-gatherer days, you might not have any available food coming in some days.
I’ve talked elsewhere about a ketogenic diet’s other health benefits and potential drawbacks, but here let’s focus on aging and longevity. Researchers believe ketosis can benefit neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.”
Quote from Dr. B.J. Hardick. (5)
Fasting vs. Counting Calories
Fasting is a way to get the benefits of Ketosis without needing to be hyper-vigilant about counting calories. You can determine your own program by finding a cycle that works best for you, and then focus your energies on following a healthy diet during your eating hours.
The Gut health benefits of incorporating fasting into your lifestyle are remarkable! And, in addition, you may discover that fasting also improves your energy, digestion, sleep, and mood – but it also is surprisingly easy to add to your lifestyle!
“Fasting has been practiced for millennia, but only recently studies have shed light on its role in adaptive cellular responses that reduce oxidative damage and inflammation, optimize energy metabolism, and bolster cellular protection.
... Regular fasting extends longevity in part by reprogramming metabolic and stress resistance pathways.
In rodents, intermittent or periodic fasting protects against diabetes, cancers, heart disease, and neurodegeneration, while in humans it helps reduce obesity, hypertension, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis.
This research indicates that “fasting has the potential to delay aging and help prevent and treat diseases while minimizing the side effects caused by chronic dietary interventions.”US Library of Medicine – Abstract. “Fasting: Molecular Mechanisms and Clinical Applications”, V. Longo and M. Mattson (2)
- Fasting can help to heal your gut by improving the gut barrier and reducing gut permeability. These improvements help to repair a condition known as “leaky gut” syndrome. This condition is considered by many practitioners to be the precursor to autoimmune disease (along with many other modern health conditions).
- “Researchers find that beyond its benefits on your body and brain, Intermittent fasting could favorably influence the balance of beneficial gut flora that protects against metabolic syndrome, a traffic jam of issues that include high blood sugar and abdominal obesity.” He continues, “Losing weight reduces inflammation and can improve gut ecology.” Dr. Vincent Pedre:
- Dr. Pedre argues, “You win on every level: You look and feel better. Gut health improves. And lower inflammation scores reduce your risk for nearly every disease.” (How to Heal Your Gut With Intermittent Fasting – www.mindbodygreen.com) (1)
Important Disclaimer: Fasting is not for everyone. If you are pregnant, nursing, have a history of eating disorders, are on medication to regulate blood sugar, or are under the care of a doctor, you should check with your physician first before starting any fasting protocol.
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In our modern world, we have access to foods from all parts of the globe, at any time, throughout the seasons. And many of us eat the same foods 365 days of the year. Scientists are concerned that because of this lifestyle pattern, we may be permanently losing important strains of good bacteria.
In a recent post, “Restore Your Gut Health as the Season’s Change”, I explain that our gut bacteria change with the foods that we eat. And as the season’s change, so should our gut bacteria. If we want to support a healthy gut, it’s important to access foods that are not only local – but also foods that are in season.
Recent research shows that important bacteria strains may be disappearing from the human gut due to the fact that most of us eat the same diet, that includes the same foods, 365 days of the year. We are able to do this because of the Industrialization of food production and the systems of Global Transport that allow us to ship food all around the world. This is a real concern!
As a result of this combination of factors, we are in a dilemma, and it brings up the questions:
- How do we find local sources for seasonally available foods?
- Can we learn how to access fresher and more nutritious foods while shopping in our modern grocery stores?
- And, can we discover methods to source and store foods that will maximize their nutrition?
Eating on the Wild Side!
As a part of researching these topics, I stumbled upon a great book that has really useful information.
“Eating on the Wild Side (The Missing Link to Optimum Health)”, by Jo Robinson, is one of the most useful books that I have read in quite a while!
Jo Robinson is, first and foremost, an investigative journalist. She specializes in gathering information and researching subjects thoroughly. And she has a long history in researching journals for information about how to restore vital nutrients to our foods. She is nationally recognized as an expert in knowing how to recapture those lost nutrients.
In 2001 she founded Eat Wild. This platforms’ mission is to “promote the benefits—to consumers, farmers, animals, and the planet—of choosing meat, eggs, and dairy products from 100% grass-fed animals or other non-ruminant animals fed their natural diets. Eatwild is now the #1 clearinghouse for information about pasture-based farming and features a state-by-state directory of local farmers who sell directly to consumers.” (eatwild.com)
In her book, “Eating on the Wild Side”, Jo presents 21st-century research about the important health benefits of choosing specific varieties of fruits and vegetables, as well as hands-on advice on how to shop for them, grow them, cook them, and store them to maintain their nutritional value. Jo gleaned this information by reviewing thousands of research articles, providing a wealth of information you will not find anywhere else. (eatwild.com)
More about Eating Wild:
“Our early ancestors, about 400 generations ago, were hunter-gatherers. Their food came from the plants and animals they hunted and foraged rather than from animals they raised or plants they farmed. When they began to domesticate animals and grow food in the first primitive gardens, they made choices about how to feed their livestock and what to plant.
Those decisions produced tastier food, but as we now know, they also began, unwittingly, to strip vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants from their diets.
Jo’s book tells the story of the changes we have made to our wild foods, and what we can do to reclaim these lost nutrients. The solution goes beyond local, beyond organic, and beyond heirlooms. Surprisingly some of the answers are hiding in plain sight in your local grocery store.” (eatwild.com)
Additional helpful documents from Eat Wild:
Being a Hunter-gatherer.
Wild Concord Grapes on a Fall day.
On my walk through the woods this past week, I came upon these beautiful wild Concord Grapes. As you can see, they are tiny compared to the cultivated grapes you can buy in the stores. And from the bright purple stains on my hands, as I picked and ate them, you can see how nutrient-rich these tiny little fruits can be.
Earlier that day I had been reading Jo Robinson’s book. I was enthralled by the idea that we can glean more nutrition from the Industrialized foods that we buy in the grocery stores, by knowing what varieties to buy, as well as how to store and cook them.
Eating the wild grapes that I found in the woods was an immediate confirmation for me about the incredible differences between wild varieties and our modern, cultivated varieties of fruits. These petite grapes were dark purple (thus, full of antioxidants). Their flavor was incredible! As I ate these tiny grapes, that were mostly skin and seed, I felt a yearning to return to the simpler diet of foods. And I was impressed by how far we devolved as a result of our cultivation of food from the wild varieties that we would have gathered generations ago.
Eating Foods in Season – it’s a mindset.
I believe that learning to put more of our attention to eating seasonal and locally grown food are things that we all can strive for. It’s something that can be accomplished even while shopping our large grocery stores, as Jo Robinson demonstrates. So, whether or not you can access local farmers and local farmers markets, you can still strive for these goals. Eating Food in Season can be a mindset!
The guide below will help you to discover what foods are in season and available in your area. Foods are listed state by state.
Keys to Success:
- Try to find fruits and vegetables that are in season where you live.
- Source meats, eggs, and dairy from animals that have eaten foods that are a part of their natural diet.
- Learn how to store foods so that they maintain their nutrition as long as possible.
- And, if you can, take the time to source healthier and more nutrient-rich foods, even if it’s from the grocery store.
- Follow recipes that that capture the natural flavors and nutrition of locally grown foods.
Eating Foods in Season is important. Find sources of foods that will help you get the maximum nutrition possible. These are things that can make a difference in your life – and in the life of your family and friends!
True Gut Health
Live a Vibrant Life!
Current research shows that seasonal diet changes affect the composition of your microbiome. The types of the bacteria in your gut change when you change the foods that you eat. In order to stay healthy, it’s important to keep your gut bacteria healthy. And as … READ MORE.