Naturopath and Holistic Health Expert
Suffering from an irritable bowel? Try these four easy ways to encourage healthy bowel movements.
image via pinterest
1. Eat what we have evolved to eat.
Our anatomy and physiology dictates this. A modern hunter-gatherer, which is what we are, is meant to eat a diet rich in fresh, whole foods. Vegetables, fresh and cultured (fermented foods rich in natural probiotics or good bacteria), whole fats and proteins from healthy pastured animals, non farmed seafood, some well prepared nuts and seeds, small amounts of seasonal fruit and whole unprocessed cultured dairy. Foods not only provide 8vitamins and minerals but nutrients to feed healthy bacteria and enzymes and acids. Implement a cleanse to support the transition from industrial foods to whole foods and create a centered, clear, vital mind and body that is stress, pain, inflammatory and disease free.
2. Prepare food well and follow our ancestral and cultural food preparations and traditions.
The lost art of food preparation has occurred because we live in a fast paced society with convenience as a preference. Preparing food well preserves food, increases nutritional density and food is better digested and assimilated. Avoid overcooking your food, which destroys enzymes and goodness and creates inflammatory toxins. Avoid barbecuing food to death, high pressure cooking or deep-frying. Gently sauté, pan fry, steam, bake, roast and steam. Eat raw when suitable or soak, ferment, marinate and sprout to assist digestion and optimal absorption of nutrients.
3. Acid and Alkaline health
The pH is a way of measuring how acidic or alkaline the body is. The pH in the human digestive tract varies greatly. Saliva is usually between 6.5 – 7.5. After we chew and swallow food it then enters the upper portion of the stomach, which has a pH between 4.0 – 6.5. This is where “predigestion” occurs while the lower portion of the stomach is secreting hydrochloric acid (HCI) and pepsin until it reaches a pH between 1.5 – 4.0. After the food mixes with these juices it then enters the small intestine where the pH changes to 7.0 – 8.5. This is where the body takes in 90% of the absorption of nutrients while the waste products are passed out through the colon where the pH is between 4.0 – 7.0.
Eating whole foods, chewing foods well, hydrating and eating in relaxed state contributes to healthy pH in your gut. Antacids and other alkalizing products increase the pH in the stomach, which might make the enzymes in the stomach less effective. The low pH of the juices in the stomach can cause ulcers if they eat through the walls of the small intestine or stomach. This low pH also kills many microorganisms in the food you eat, helping prevent digestive illnesses.
If stomach acid is low, the food going down to your intestine may be too alkaline to signal your pancreas or small intestine to secrete enzymes to digest your food adequately and result in discomfort or bloating, constipation and sometimes even undigested food particles in the stool.
Try this simple test at home to assess your acid levels: Add 1 teaspoon of aluminium bicarbonate soda in 200mls water and drink on an empty stomach. There should be significant burping within 5-10 mins, in which case there is enough stomach acid. The gas is caused by the acid in your tummy acting to break up the molecule of bicarbonate, which splits off the carbonate as a gas. See advice from your health care practitioner for the best kind of digestive enzymes for you.
4. Get some healthy bugs!
If you experience chronic constipation or diarrhoea, assess gut bacterial health. Sometimes you may have too much of good thing, the good culture or bacteria found in every day yoghurts or probiotics or not enough of them. Sometimes there may be an infection, which simply means an overgrowth of parasite or fungus. Seek expert advice on first assessing microbial over or undergrowth through a comprehensive stool analysis test. One that measures both the good and bad bugs, those that should be there and those that shouldn’t be there.