Your Inner Superhero: Gut Health That Will Change Your Life
Strength of the Hulk, brains of Iron Man, and beauty of Wonder Woman – We’ve got a feeling that we’re about to bring out your inner gut health Superhero.
Every one of our greatest superheroes started out with a struggle. It’s the hardships they faced that made them into the immortal, regenerating, beloved super humans we all have heart-eyes over. Late-night, cheesy, fluffy-crusted pizza making your mind darker than Darth Vader’s. Submission into fudgey ice cream cravings like Frodo to Mordor giving you the belly bloat of Jabba The Hutt. Topping it off with the cherry-stopping effects of a stressful lifestyle and you could be in the top running for a Gollum look-a-like contest (hairstyle and all).
Learning how to live for gut health can stop us from just Marvel-ing at the greats – we can feel like one WITH the greats. Adopting a superhero, holistic lifestyle has the power to transform us from one of those snack-stashing fiends who needs to eat every three hours – otherwise fear the hangry wrath of the Hulk – to sweethearts, with balanced blood sugar, powering through our busy days. Together, the estimated 70 million Americans struggling with digestive diseases knows how life-changing it is to be taken down by the bad guys attacking our guts. When nourishing our bodies with wholesome foods, staying away from caffeine, alcohol, dairy, simple carbs, and added sugars, getting in a daily sweat sesh and managing stress with meditative nature walks — we can handle the anxieties of life with more ease.
Most people have stomachaches, bloating, indigestion, diarrhea, and constipation and believe it’s the norm. However, once they start to feel better they realize how unnecessarily accustomed they had grown to these discomforts. The good news is that you CAN easily feel better.
Do You Have Any Of These Symptoms?
- Bloating after and in-between most meals
- Abdominal pain, indigestion, heartburn, diarrhea, and/or constipation
- Constant brain fog that worsens after meals
- Migraine headaches
- Seasonal allergies or asthma
- Autoimmune diseases, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or psoriasis
- Skin issues, such as acne, rosacea, hives, rashes, or eczema
- Depression, anxiety, ADD, or ADHD
- Chronic fatigue
- Recurrent yeast infections or candida overgrowth
Identify What’s Taking You Down
In recent years, building scientific evidence has further proven the power of the gut-brain axis, making our microbiome act as a “second brain”. Every system in our bodies is harmoniously connected with each other. A constant communication between our gut and mind sends more messages to each other than you to your best friend after the latest Game of Thrones episode.
Recent research on the impact gut health has on our obesity rates and sleep behaviors has been eye-opening. As proven in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, studies have shown that gut bacteria has adverse affects on metabolism due to the presence of certain amino acids in the blood. This proves a link between obesity and the composition of the gut microbiome. If we want to keep using our “sick” days to play hooky, keeping our gut microbiome in balance is of upmost importance. The largest presence of our immune system resides in our gut-associated lymphoid tissue.
Key players attacking our Gotham City? A wide variety of lifestyle elements such as FODMAP foods, birth control pills, environmental toxins and stressful lifestyles are all in the line-up. Your brain and belly’s codependent relationship has a direct effect on your mood. For example, studies have shown that sugar consumption is linked to an increased risk of depression.
From autism to cancer to dementia to cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases, disruptions in our gut health has been linked to virtually every chronic disease. The short-chain fatty acids that are metabolic by-products of fermented fiber produced by our gut microbes help us to have a Superman metabolism, glow of Princess Leia, Jimmy Neutron brain blasts and a Hulk-powered immune system.
Setting up camp in our guts, our bodies are home to a flourishing community of bacteria. This regulates inflammation, immunity and has a huge impact on our overall health. Prep for battle by first checking out this at-home test to scope out your microbiome’s status. Next, you can start implementing these simple tips to save your Gotham:
Ramp Up Your Nutritional Game
- Eliminate the bad guys: Common food allergens like gluten (found in corn and wheat), dairy, refined sugar and all processed foods are inflaming your body like the eye of Sauron and should be avoided. Want to start with one? Go with the worst offender. Refined sugar has been proven to feed the bad bacteria and deplete the positive.
- Fuel up with anti-inflammatory foods: think plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, dark leafy, fiber-rich greens like spinach and Swiss chard, easy-to-digest grains (gluten-free oats, quinoa, millet and amaranth), and healthy fats like avocado, flax, hemp, pumpkin seeds, almonds, raw coconut and walnuts. Have a sweet tooth? Try pure stevia, yacon syrup, coconut nectar or raw Manuka honey.
- Team up with key superhero sidekicks: Cook with the gut-boosting, mouthwatering additions of anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, and saffron.
- Build up your army of good guys: embrace the power of probiotics, prebiotics, cultured foods, and beverages. Take your prebiotic game to the next level with raw asparagus, garlic, onion, leek, bananas and dandelion greens. Next, pair it with probiotic foods like fermented vegetables, kombucha, coconut water kefir, and coconut milk yogurt. Some of the best fermented foods filled with both of these crime-stoppers are kefir, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi and temp. Some of our favorite products are plain Fage or Siggi’s Greek or Icelandic yogurt and GT’s Trilogy kombucha. Start implementing these on the daily and you’ll be unstoppable.
- Bring in The Fantastic Four: digestive enzymes, such as amylases (carbs), lipases (fats), hydrochloric acid, and bile acids, through both natural foods and supplements will help your gut digest and absorb all of those feel good nutrients you’re loving.
- Find your secret weapon: Supplements take some trial and error, but these are our go-to’s for repairing and regenerating the damages caused by infections, food sensitivities, and toxins – aloe and deglycyrrhizinated licorice are powerful anti-inflammatories along with L-glutamine, which is an amino acid utilized by the cells of the gut lining for optimal performance.
Put Together Your Gut Health Battle Plan
- Establish your pre-battle mindset: By cleansing your mind of negativity and expressing gratitude, the stress levels of your parasympathetic system decreases. This calms your digestion-altering fight-or-flight response and allows your body to rest, repair, and heal.
- Timing Your Attack: Introducing intermittent fasting into your lifestyle can help give your gut a rest while improving hormone and bacterial balance. When you fast for 16 hours, your body is activates a garbage disposal for dead cells in a process called autophagy. However, if you have a history of disordered eating or are underweight, this could do more harm than good.
- The Battlefield: being conscious of your lifestyle environments will have a huge impact on your gut-health. By implementing environmentally friendly, non toxic cleaners, enjoying filtered clean drinking water, and replacing that Sunny D with vitamin D, you’ll be a force of nature.
- The Recovery Room: Sleep has a major impact on our digestive health with its power to allow our bodies to detoxify and rid the day’s waste. Give yourself some much-deserved self-care and aim to get 7-8 hours of restful sleep each night.
It’s important to keep in mind that eating for optimal gut health doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone. Always talk to your doctor before you make any drastic changes to your diet or lifestyle and keep them updated on all of the supplements you’re taking. We’ll be continuing to give you an insider look into the declassified files so you can fight your villains, bring out your inner superhero and save Gotham.
Ready to start your mission to Kim Possible? Throw up the bat signal and call us, beep us, if you wanna reach us. Just starting with simple, small changes can have you feeling like you can take on the world. Why wait? Feel super human now. The eagle flies at midnight.
ContributorSarah Rose is a Los Angeles-based photographer, designer and journalist. She's also an integrative nutritionist and sports trainer with a love for holistic wellness. When she's not out on the field, you can find her exploring the coast in her ’97 blue Tacoma pickup, packed up with her surfboard and pup Honey.