5 basics for a trouble-free gut
The goal of health is achieved through balance. That means all of your systems working together in harmony to produce optimal function throughout the body. Some call this homeostasis — others say it is simply “what works” to bring about health. And this is the aim of functional medicine… and the best way to a trouble-free gut.
Gut troubles must be at the top of the list of complaints physicians hear often. But few of them are willing to take the time to zero-in on the cause. How can you offer a real solution if you don’t?
That’s why following a cleanse and re-introducing food groups (over 30+ days), as I recommend, is so important. Once you go through that process, you’ll have a better understanding of what works in your body — specifically, what foods you can eat and in what combinations.
Then you’ll be able to include all the foods that work for you in your diet, because one of the goals of an individualized nutrition plan (a healthy diet for you) is diversity…
Diversity provides a complement of macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbs) and micronutrients: minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients (from plants) that provide essential properties of health.
This way, you can have the food experience you deserve — one that helps you feel full, energized and promotes successful weight loss!
1. Eat what works for you
On a daily basis, consider getting a broader variety of vegetables. Joel Furhman, M.D., author of “Eat to Live,” offers us a mnemonic for daily consumption of healthy foods that heal: “GBOMBS” — Which stands for Greens, Beans (or Lentils), Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, and Spices.
The basis of your diet deserves to include all those foods that decrease inflammation, balance pH (more alkaline please), provide fiber and nutrients that support the good bacteria of the gut and good energy for the cells of your entire body.
This includes: More fruits (before noon), more vegetables (limit starchy vegetables), about an ounce of nuts or seeds, about 1/3 to ½ cup of beans or lentils (remember lentils have more protein and less carbs than beans), grains (gluten-free for most, and always non-GMO) — maybe ½ to 1 cup (depending on your size and appetite), olive oil, coconut oil, herbs and spices. If your body responds well to these, consider including fish or eggs for brain health. Fish contain Omega 3 fatty acids. Eggs contain phospholipids and inositol — also brain protective. Both provide improved cognitive function and mood balance. Consider adding protein in the diet with pure whey protein powder, live probiotics from yogurt, kefir, kombucha, natto, miso, kimchee, sauerkraut or pickles (without the dyes or preservatives).
At least 50%+ of the food we consume deserves to be plants, preferably raw or steamed. To do this, plan to continue having a full plate of salad (followed by other items, such as limited starchy vegetables, beans or lentils, meat or fish. Include healthy fat and spices with the meal.
Add to this plate of greens, as a second layer on top, colored vegetables.
Plan to eat with each salad (for lunch and dinner) vegetables with all of the following colors — white, purple, green, yellow, orange and red. Get a good mixture with each meal. Colors in the vegetables provide the following phytonutrients for health…
Anti-Inflammatory properties (and an alkaline pH) from:
- Anthocyanins — blue, purple and red fruits and veggies
- Capsaicin — colorless, bittersweet – found in hot peppers
- Sulforaphane — cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, broccoli sprouts (10-100x’s), Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower. Steam (v. boil).
- Omega 3 essential fatty acids for heart and brain health — plant and fish sources
- Oleocanthal — olive oil
- Polyphenols: catechins, epicatechins — tea, cacao, green tea
- EGCG — green tea
- Quercetin — in most fruits and vegetables with color
- Isoflavones — grains, fruits, vegetables, soy (non-GMO) and clover
- Curcumin — turmeric (w/ bioperin and pure oil)
- Ellagitannins — wild strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, pomegranate, walnuts, pecans, cranberries
Ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks:
Breakfast: Add fruit (AM until noon) to a smoothie: ½ banana, berries, apples, pineapple (small amounts at first), mango, kiwi, oranges, etc. When your body is ready, combine with whey protein powder (or other protein powder source).
If you choose eggs (inositol for mood balance and cognitive function; great source of phospholipids) consider following the fruit by 20 min for good digestion.
Lunch and Dinner: Continue to eat salads, first. Remember the value of greens combined with colors. Also Vitamins A, D, E, and K (from the vegetables) require fat to accompany the meal for absorption and assimilation into the cells. Consider nuts, seeds, or olive oil to reach optimal nutritional benefit.
Add in steamed (non-starchy) vegetables like tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, zucchini, asparagus, artichoke, arugula, Brussels sprouts, bean sprouts, celery, dandelion greens, eggplant, endive (chicory), fenugreek, cabbage (all types; green, purple, etc), fennel, garlic, ginger root, green beans (not any other kind of beans yet if re-introducing food groups), hearts of palm, jalapeno peppers, all kinds of peppers, mushrooms, onions, radishes, shallots, snow peas, etc.
Snacks: Eat when hungry, but plan ahead by having food prepared and with you wherever you go. This includes a BPA-free water bottle full of purified water. Plan to have food for both a mid-morning and a mid-afternoon snack. If you must, a healthy dessert is best eaten before 7pm.
4. Achieve satiety with healthy fat
Satiety is, in part, provided by healthy fat in each meal. This feeling of fullness is registered in the brain as contentment and completeness. Our diets may be much better off for both heart and brain health by increasing (45%-65% of caloric intake, depending on climate, activities, etc) our intake of the essential macronutrient: Fat.
For over 40 years we have been told that a high fat diet or foods high in fat or saturated fat are not good for us and can cause increases in cholesterol, triglycerides, heart disease and obesity. Not true!
In fact, saturated (non-processed, organic) coconut oil is one of the best sources of fat we can put in our bodies. It’s also safe to cook with at high heat (like popcorn) as it doesn’t break down and become rancid, like butter does. Limit to 3-5 tablespoons a day, depending on your size and caloric intake.
- Coconut oil (limit 3-5 tablespoons/day)
- Olive oil (limit 2 tablespoons/salad meal)
- Seeds and avocados are also great sources of healthy fats.
- Nuts — almonds, walnut, pecan, cashew, peanut
- Seeds — pumpkin, sesame, sunflower
- Avocado (1/2 per day)
- Almond butter
- Butter (grass-fed)
5. Prolong healthy carbohydrates with healthy protein and fiber
Always eat protein with carbohydrates. If you are having that weekly sugar treat – add some protein and fiber so that you won’t get the “crash”. This prevents both the spiking of blood sugar and of insulin — doing your cardiovascular system a big favor. This also makes a meal “last” (having energy and not feeling the cravings) three or more hours instead of just 1.5 hours without the protein or fiber.
Healthy Protein: (Range-free, without hormones or anti-biotics) eggs, fish, chicken, lean animal protein, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds (chia, pumpkin, sunflower, etc) which are good on salads as well as for a snack. Limit animal protein (3-6 ounces per day). Protein powder — hemp, pea, brown rice, or whey.
Like most who follow a Cleanse and Re-introduction of Food groups process for 30 days, you could notice a reversal of most, if not all, of your chronic illness symptoms. Things like brain fog, mood problems, sleep difficulties, skin conditions — like psoriasis or eczema — and arthritic pain. You could be well on your way to enjoying better mental focus, more energy, fewer cravings, less fluid retention and fatigue and most of all — successful weight loss!