Imagine a tree...
A huge oak tree in the middle of a forest.
The leaves and branches of this tree have turned brown, brittle and are dying.
Focusing on treating the leaves won't save the tree or bring it back to full health.
You need to address the roots....
...It's the same with our health.
We spend so much time and money trying to 'fix' our symptoms.
That annoying fungal toe nail that seems to keeps spreading, the dull headache you get each week, the cystic acne that you desperately try to hide from everyone you know.
Painkillers, topical anti-fungal nail treatments and expensive 'acne fighting' serums may relieve the symptoms in the short term, however they fail to address the root cause of the issue, which means once you stop the treatment your symptoms will probably come straight back (often with a vengeance!).
With all that being said, it is still important to get some symptomatic relief whilst you are working on addressing the possible root causes.
Instead of immediately running to your medicine cabinet for laxatives, Gaviscon acid relief or Immodium when your gut is playing up, give some of the natural remedies I share today a try!
Prior to the creation of these medicines, and still in some cultures today, people turned to plants, nutrients and the use as 'food as medicine', when they had health issues. Plus, all of these recommendations won't create harmful side effects or reliance like some prescribed or over the counter medications can.
This can indicate factors such as a lack of fibre, hydration, food intolerance, dysbiosis (an imbalance of good & bad bacteria), stress, emotional baggage and even hypothyroidism.
Give these a go...
> Increase hydration from warm/room temperature water, bone broth or herbal teas, especially ginger, dandelion and liquorice. Aim for 2-3 litres per day.
> Increase magnesium intake from foods such as leafy green vegetables, avocado, cacao, nuts and seeds or consider supplementing with 200-400mg of magnesium citrate in divided doses.
> Add 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds to 500ml of room temperature water and mix well. Let it sit for a few minutes until it thickens, then drink that first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
This can indicate food intolerance, dysbiosis, gastrointestinal infection (eg parasites), lack of digestive enzymes, stress or conditions such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) or Hyperthyroidism.
Give these a go...
> Consume only easy to digest foods such as bone broth, homemade soup, room temperature smoothies (nothing ice cold!), and stews. The less work your gut has to do, the better! Stay away from raw veggies.
> Remove possible food triggers including coffee, alcohol, onions, garlic, spicy foods, dairy, gluten, nuts, seeds and beans. Even if your diarrhoea has been triggered by food poisoning or recent antibiotic use I recommend following a short term elimination diet. These foods can aggravate the guts of some people, especially if they are already inflamed. Focus on high quality meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, healthy fats and lower sugar fruits such as berries or stewed apple with cinnamon.
> Pop a probiotic supplement, as this helps to regulate your gut bacteria, which may be 'off' if you are currently dealing with diarrhoea. If you tolerate fermented foods such as saurkraut, kimchi and kefir then you can also include these into your diet on a daily basis as these are also rich in probiotic (beneficial) bacteria.
This can indicate low stomach acid (nope, not high!), dysbiosis, improper digestion, lack of digestive enzymes, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), eating while stressed, h.pylori infection, hiatus hernia, and food intolerance.
Give these a go...
> Add 1 tablespoon of raw, unpasteurised apple cider vinegar to warm/room temperature water and take 15 minutes before each meal. This helps to stimulate the release of our digestive enzymes and creates a more acidic environment in the stomach, which is what we want for optimal protein digestion and mineral absorption.
> Avoid snacking and eating close to bedtime. 4 hours between meals without snacking,Aim to leave at least as this prevents a 'back log' of food and ensures we fully digest and absorb our last meal before eating again. When food isn't fully broken down it can putrefy which allows intestinal bacteria to feed on the waste and produce gas. This gas can create the feeling of 'heartburn' and the pressure can create reflux and a burning sensation in the oesophagus. Stop eating at least 2-3 hours before going to bed and sleep with your upper body slightly raised (prop yourself up with extra pillows) as this can ease symptoms, especially if they worsen at night.
> Drink aloe vera juice (check the label to avoid chemicals or added sugars) or marshmallow root powder mixed in water,between meals. These mucilaginous herbs protect and repair the inflamed mucous membranes of the stomach and oesophagus. You can purchase these from health food shops or online. Get organic if possible!
Gas and Bloating
This can be caused by hormonal fluctuations, food intolerance, stress, lack of digestive enzymes, dysbiosis, a gastrointestinal infection (such as parasites or yeast), Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), improper digestion (not chewing, eating on the run) and conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Crohn's Disease.
Give these a go...
> Sip on homemade bone broth (if tolerated), warm water with 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or raw apple cider vinegar and herbal teas such as ginger, peppermint, chamomile, turmeric, dandelion, aniseed or fennel as they all support digestion and reduce inflammation.
> Avoid hard to digest foods for a while, including highly fibrous vegetables like onions, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower and raw salads, beans, wheat, lots of raw nuts/seeds and dairy. Opt for warm, cooked foods such as soups, stews, bone broth, homemade curry, steamed fish and braised meat.
> Move your body. Going for a 20 minute walk outside or following an easy 'Yoga for Digestion' video on Youtube can really help to expel excess gas and relieve bloating, especially if combined with the other remedies discussed above. Gently massaging your abdomen in a clockwise direction, using essential oils (peppermint, ginger, clary sage) mixed with a carrier or magnesium oil can also be very effective, especially if you are also constipated.
Please speak to your health practitioner before implementing any major dietary changes or adding supplements into your treatment protocol. As always, this information is not designed to replace that of your Doctor or practitioner and I do not claim to diagnose or 'cure' any health conditions.
As I mentioned at the start of this blog post, it is important to address the underlying root causes of your symptoms in order to fully recover and achieve optimal health. Hopefully these natural remedies can provide you with some short-term relief whilst you work on dealing with any internal imbalances that may be present.
I would love to help you identify and solve the root causes of your digestive or hormonal symptoms.
Life should be enjoyed, not spent constantly searching for the nearest toilet when out with friends or doubled over in pain after eating a meal. Do you agree?
For more information and applications for my online nutritional therapy consultations, you can click here. (You won't even have to leave your house!)