4 Gut Health Tips, If Your Tummy Tells You Something’s Wrong
I don’t know about you, but it’s not easy to go through life without hearing about gut health. The concept of gut health refers to your digestion, nutrient absorption, and the bacterial makeup of your gut microbiome, according to the Mayo Clinic. These factors work in tandem to support your nutrient intake, process waste, fuel your body, and protect you from disease. Yet, I seem to spot a new “gut health” food every time I go to the grocery store and see a ton of TikToks filled with confusing gut health advice.
If the popularity of gastrointestinal health has you thinking about your own microbiome, you might find the most recent episode of The good + good podcast really enlightening. Well + Good Creative Development Director Ella Dove spoke with Will Bulsiewicz, MD, gastroenterologist and New York Times bestselling author of books Powered by fiber and The fiber cookbook and Brigitte Zeitlin, RD, a New York-based dietician, to discuss all things gut health.
Overall, the experts pointed out how adaptable your gut is and what you’ll notice when your body tries to tell you something’s wrong. Plus, they offer reliable advice on maintaining gut health.
“Your gut is tuned into your routine, it’s adaptable and changing, but you have to take it slow. Small choices in a specific direction can allow your gut microbiome to catch up,” says Dr. Bulsiewicz. For example, he explains, if you’ve been on the paleo diet and want to quit so you can eat beans and legumes, you might feel funky at first. He mentions that your digestive system is a lot like your musculoskeletal system in that it needs time to build up strength and tolerance. “If you eat a bunch of something you’re not used to, your body might react with gas, bloating, or pain,” he says. Taking your time is the best way to change your lifestyle without tummy issues.
3 signs your gut is trying to tell you something
Constantly feeling bloated
“Pay attention to how you feel: Signs of constant bloating could indicate a food intolerance or something going on in your gut,” says Zeitlin. Bloating is a complex word, but in gastroenterology it refers to an unpleasant feeling of fullness, gas and water retention. Sometimes it is a natural response to your diet, an illness or your environment. It may be a fluke symptom that resolves on its own. The best way to get to the bottom of your bloating, according to Zeitlin, is to keep a food diary. It can help you make the connection between what you eat and what makes you feel worse.
Brain fog, according to the Mayo Clinic, is a reduced sense of cognition and increased distractibility or feeling like you can’t concentrate. It can be from a lot of things like medication side effects, lack of sleep, COVID-19, dehydration or, as Zeitlin points out, food intolerances.
This is another place where a food diary is going to come in handy, says Zeitlin. When you experience food-related brain fog, it can happen while you are eating or shortly after. Having a food diary and notes about your day’s symptoms can help you determine if your brain fog is from your diet or something else. Also, of course, you can take the notes to a vendor.
Constipation is an intestinal red flag, according to Dr. Bulsiewicz. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there is something seriously wrong, but it is a sign that there is a “kink” in your digestive system. Again, this can be from many things like dehydration, lack of fiber, too much fiber, or food intolerance. Try drinking water, doing light movements like walking, or doing yoga stretches to encourage bowel movements.
Your gut is very complex and resilient, just like you. These experts recommend not viewing gut health advice in extreme black and white terms. There are many people who have opinions about gut health, but, at the end of the day, you know yourself and your body best.
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