Smart Nutrition Notes – March 2014
You know the old saying, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb?” We have not seen the lamb yet in Northern New England but I understand the maple sap has started to flow so spring can‘t be too far around the corner. But here is one thing we know for sure: the seeds sown in the fall that have been germinating all winter will burst forth in the spring and change everything. So for those of you in the north, hang in there, it’s coming!
The topic this month is very important to us all: Gut Health! Why? Because your gut either keeps you healthy or makes you sick (and fat)! Learn more below.
The recipe this month is all about spring: Asparagus! This one of our favorite ways to serve it.
Check out some great events coming in April: Indian Cuisine, Intuitive Eating, and a Cleanse Group.
Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love! – Sitting Bull
Is Your Digestive System Making You Sick and Fat?
It’s very simple. Your gut either keeps you healthy or it makes you ill. A healthy gut determines which nutrients to absorb and does an expert job keeping toxins, allergens, and microbes out. An unhealthy gut contributes to a wide range of diseases including diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, autism, and depression.
Two variables determine our gut health. One is the intestinal microbiota which is also known as the gut flora. The other is the gut barrier.
Let’s talk about the gut flora first. Our gut is home to over 100 Trillion microorganisms. In fact, you actually have 10 times as many bacterial cells as your own cells in your body. Some would say that means that we are only 10% human! This microbiome we carry around with us contains over 500 bacterial species. In order to be healthy, these bugs need to be in balance.
The role of the gut flora is to promote normal gastrointestinal function, regulate metabolism, and provide protection from infection. In fact, the gut comprises over 75% of our immune system.
Several factors contribute to unhealthy flora including:
- Antibiotics and other medications like birth control pills and NSAIDs
(e.g., aspirin, ibuprofin, Tylenol, etc.)
- Diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugar, and processed foods
- Diets low in fermentable fibers
- Potential dietary toxins like wheat and dairy
- Chronic stress
- Chronic infections
In fact, just about anyone who lives in the modern world has some level of gut dysfunction. If you never experience stress, please raise your hand!
The second factor determining our gut health is the gut barrier. It’s a fact that the lining of the intestine is one of the few organs we humans possess which is connected to the outside world. If you think about it, the gut is essentially a hollow tube passing from the mouth to the anus. So while you are breaking down and digesting your lunch, the contents of the gut are technically outside the body until the food gets broken down and nutrients get absorbed through your intestinal wall.
It follows that one of the most important functions of the gut is to prevent foreign substances from entering the body. When the gut is not well taken care of it can become permeable (aka—leaky gut syndrome) where large protein molecules are absorbed directly into the bloodstream. This is seen as an attack by your body which fights back with an immune response triggering inflammation. As a result of this insult, the gut barrier begins to malfunction which can leave you susceptible to autoimmune diseases like celiac disease and type 1 diabetes as well as joint pain, fatigue, brain fog, depression, allergies, congestion, and rashes like eczema.
How to Maintain and Restore a Healthy Gut:
- Avoid the things listed above which affect your gut flora.
- Remove the foods from your diet which can irritate your bowel and digestive system. The most common irritant is gluten the protein found in wheat, barley, oats, rye, and spelt. Dairy is also a culprit with 75% of people unable to properly digest this food. Two proteins in dairy, casein and whey, can cause inflammation and irritation. Other common allergens include corn, soy, and eggs. It makes sense to work with a trained and seasoned Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to determine which foods might be allergenic for you.
- Eliminate the bad bugs by using an antimicrobial with at least 400 mg of Berberine. I recommend
Berberine Complex from Integrative Therapeutics.
- Add back important factors to improve your gut function:
Supplement with digestive enzymes which will help break down food while you gut is healing. You will need to take these for 2 to 3 months. A.I. Enzymes from Pure Encapsulations.Re-inoculate your gut with good bacteria using probiotics including Bifidobacteria, Lactobacillus and other strains of bacteria. Ultra Flora Spectrumfrom Metametrix.
- Eat fermented foods which are rich in probiotics such as kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, and yogurt if you tolerate dairy (and I don’t mean the sugar-loaded kind that’s so popular these days).
The old adage is “You are what you eat.” In this day and age, it’s more like “You are what you absorb.” Keeping your gut clean and healthy is a high priority for anyone who wants to create ideal health. Just remember when you see an apple tree, the roots create the fruits. If the roots of the tree are not well nourished the tree will not bear the same beautiful fruit. Your gut is the root to your optimal health.
Simple, Healthy, Delicious!
Join Sri Chalamuri and me for an evening of cooking, tasting and fun at The Health Benefits of Indian Cuisine on April 23 in Keene, NH. During this cooking class – which includes a meal afterwards – you will learn the basics of southern Indian cuisine, the health benefits of this style of eating as well as the healing effects of the ingredients. Learn more HERE.
We are starting another Intuitive Eating Program in April. This program was created to help individuals achieve long term weight loss and maintenance by rejecting a diet mentality and creating a more nurturing relationship with food and eating. This program will be offered out of our Peterborough & Amherst offices. We look forward to having you join us. Learn more HERE or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll be starting a Cleanse Group (open to anyone) at Trilogy Fitness in Amherst, NH in mid-April. We will offer a FREE Introductory Session on April 15 at 6:00 pm at Trilogy Fitness, 71 Rte. 101A, Unit #5, Amherst, NH 03031. Preregister by contacting Trilogy at (603) 249-5614 or at email@example.com.
Smart Nutrition has expanded its services to include phone and onlinecounseling.This is a great way for you to access our services if you live outside of Southern NH or if you prefer to receive services in the comfort of your own home. If you have friends or family who can use our services – anywhere in the country – we can help and always appreciate referrals.
Not sure if working with a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist is right for you? No worries. Just call me at 603-924-9505 to set up a free ½ hour screening appointment.