You can diet for fat loss until the cows come home but you will never make any real progress until you are healthy and functioning properly from the inside out.
The health of your gut and proper digestion are all linked to your overall health and the basic function of your immune system. Studies show that the gut is responsible for over 80% of your immune system response and gut health should always be the first thing checked whenever a negative health condition occurs.
The American College of Gastroenterology estimates that approximately 95 million Americans currently suffer from some form of digestive distress. In 2004 the National Institutes of Health reported that digestive disorders were responsible for 13.5 million hospitalizations and 236,164 deaths, at a total cost of $141.8 billion. These stats are from nine years ago, I wouldn’t be surprised if these figures aren’t much higher today.
So you want to improve your gut health? Here are six simple steps to help you along your way:
1. More Water. A primary cause of constipation is insufficient water intake. The issue with constipation is that it fosters an imbalance of bacteria, causing inflammation of the lining of the intestines. I recommend to all my clients to be drinking approximately 1 liter of water per 20kg of body weight.
2. Fiber. Fiber is important for helping food move through the digestive tract; a key factor in helping to prevent many digestive disorders. Increase high fiber foods in your diet to improve digestion.
3. Food diary. All of my clients use a food diary, it allows you to track your diet and pin point what maybe affecting your digestive health. Some people may find they can eat yogurt without any problems whilst it may cause others bloated-ness or an irritated gut. Personally majority of milk products cause me issues: bloated stomach and gas is the dead give-a-way.
4. Probiotic. Probiotics are tiny, “good” bacteria that naturally occur in the gastrointestinal tract and destroy harmful bacteria, improve bowel movements and aid digestion. Some rich sources of probiotics are dairy products such as yogurt; for those who have intolerance to dairy products, probiotic supplements are available from all pharmacies.
5. Gluten sensitivity. Gluten is a protein found in most grains, such as wheat, barley and rye. Those who are sensitive to gluten can experience an inflammatory response that can lead to gut distress – it’s been estimated that as many as 60 percent of those with IBS symptoms have gluten intolerance. To test for gluten intolerance the low-budget way, cut out all sources of gluten for six weeks and then reintroduce it into your diet and watch for reactions- get to know your body.
6. Fast. Fasting will give your digestive system a break. I’m a massive fan of fasting and do so for a certain period every day. Following your typical bodybuilding diet of six meals per day will only place the digestive system under more stress constantly working and having to digest/breakdown food. Fasting is a highly controversial topic but when you think about it logically, if you have gut issues- the best thing to do is give it a rest and allow the digestive tract to clear, fasting is exactly what will give your gut a rest. Optimal fasting period 12-18 hours. See my Intermittent fasting blog for more detail on this.
In summing up, if you have poor gut health you will never function at 100% or lose fat and build muscle at an efficient rate.
Thanks for reading.