It's the time of the year for spring cleaning. Beyond the impending onslaught of tinier summer outfits, sometimes you just want to feel better — and a different kind of spring cleaning can resolve that bloated, churning, burning belly.
First, eat more magnesium-rich foods. Try dark leafy greens such as spinach, Swiss chard, and kale. Reacquaint yourself with granola and nibble on nuts and seeds. Get fishy with mackerel, Pollock, turbot, and tuna, and try to incorporate beans and lentils to your daily meals. Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, and buckwheat are a great idea, too.
Eat more foods filled with fiber. Noticing a trend here? Eat more whole foods soaring with real fiber — not the impostor fiber in processed, packaged foods: Stick with the real, one-ingredient whole foods with naturally occurring fiber like celery, asparagus, and leeks. Fiber is essential for balancing blood sugar, scrubbing your gut, binding toxins, and keeping you regular, as in regular trips to the toilet for…you know.
A lesser known fiber source is organic psyllium husk in the form of a pill, wafer, or powder. It can ease constipation and lower cholesterol if consumed regularly. Just sprinkle ground flax seeds or psyllium husk it in a smoothie for a quick hit of fiber to get you moving.
Another mover that could help: probiotics. Probiotics are indispensable if you suffer from chronic indigestion, abdominal pain, bloating, lactose intolerance, diarrhea, or constipation. You can’t just buy any bottle off the drugstore shelf though, so talk with your doctor or nutritionist about the right kind for you — or look for foods rich in probiotics like live-culture yogurt, kefir, miso soup, kimchi, kombucha, pickles, and sauerkraut. As part of the body’s defense system, probiotics help break down food and absorb nutrients, as well as replenish the good bacteria in your gut. Keep in mind that natural sources are always best.
Now that you’ve dropped some good bacteria into your gut and set them loose, you’ve got to feed them. Ask your doctor about prebiotic-rich foods that you can enjoy with your probiotic-rich foods. Root vegetables such as garlic and onions are natural sources.
Take acid. For real. No, we’re not advising you drop the hallucinogenic-trails-with-trippy-music kind of acid. Some people don’t have enough hydrochloric acid, or HCL, in their stomachs to digest their food. Although inflammation is your immune system’s natural response, chronic inflammation is the root of all evil. It causes and contributes to countless diseases and ills like obesity, joint pain, fatigue, heart disease, and cancer. Not only do they have omega 3-fatty acids and fiber, but spicy ginger and bright-yellow turmeric — often found in Asian and Indian dishes — can fight chronic inflammation. Taken in supplement form, ginger can reduce intestinal inflammation, a key to better digestion. And turmeric, the ingredient in curry that provides the yellow hue, works by shutting off a protein that regulates the immune system and triggers the process of inflammation.
Talk to your doctor about taking digestive enzymes to help your body break down food. These enzymes help your digestion and ensure less negative effects from undigested foods that you've already eaten. I've been taking enzymes with every meal and snack for the past decade and it's helped tremendously with my leaky gut, inflammation, and Candida.
So, no excuses: This kind of spring cleaning for your gut can start before a visit to the doctor. Next time you shop for groceries or dine out, you can start scrubbing out that gut of yours to keep bloat at bay!