Senior Voice -

By Emily Kane
For Senior Voice 

Foods and strategies to aid gut function

 

March 1, 2022 | View PDF

© Can Stock Photo / TLFurrer

Finding your best food plan and sticking to it will prolong your life and greatly increase your wellbeing. It's hard to be cheerful with a distressed gut. Gut and brain tissue originates from the same embryonic cells in utero. Healthy gut function includes a good appetite with an accurate sense of satiety to prevent over-eating. Healthy digestion features lack of pain or bloating after meals. Eat calmly and chew your food thoroughly.

Generally, it takes 18 to 24 hours for food to be fully broken down into absorbable units (amino acids, essential fatty acids and sugars). Stool content contains waste from two or three meals previous, as well as a lot of dead GI cells because the intestinal lining is constantly renewing itself. A diet high in fiber acts as a gently cleansing scrub brush all the way through. Plus, fiber slows down the glycemic impact (such as mood swings) of eating sugary or carb-dense food which, while not recommended, is hard to pass up altogether.

Ideally, we will produce an easy-to-pass, dark brown, formed stool at least once daily. Sticky stools which are messy to clean up can mean too much sugar in the diet. Loose stools signal your body is in a hurry to get rid of something irritating (alcohol, a food allergen, spoiled food or even a synthetic chemical). Not pooping daily or having difficult-to-pass stools are variations of constipation which often indicates inadequate water consumption. You don't have to force the oft-cited eight glasses daily, but your body is largely made of water and needs it constantly to stay lubricated and functional.

Drink water first thing in the morning and ideally throughout the day between meals. Don't drink much water with meals – just a few sips – because that will dilute your ever-diminishing digestive enzymes. Go for the whole water bottle during exercise or while studying, reading or watching a movie.

Blood type and diet

I recommend starting to explore your personal "optimal diet" with the blood type plan. In general blood type O's do best with a keto style diet featuring good protein and lots of veggies. O's generally do better eliminating wheat, and avoiding processed grains in cookies, crackers, pasta, etc. O-type bread lovers may need to experiment with nut-based "flours."

Blood type A's do best as vegetarians allowing eggs and fish but ideally avoiding red meat and all cow-dairy products. If you are blood type A and thinking "what is the point of life without cheese?" give dairy elimination a try for two to four weeks, especially if you tend to have a runny nose, sinus congestion or stomach aches.

B blood types can do well with some dairy products but not always. Milk is for babies and anyone older than 12 months should avoid it. Diet choices affect every aspect of your health and well-being. Choose wisely.

AB's are a rare modern blood type from one parent being A and the other B; blood type O remains the most prevalent worldwide.

These recommendations are based on decades of clinical experience as well as many studies revealing immune and digestive differences.

Other ideas

If this all seems a bit fussy, go for the Mediterranean diet, which comprises lots of vegetables, moderate amounts of fruit eaten separately as a snack, fish and other non-red meat, and whole grains in moderation.

If you want a little something sweet after dinner, savor a ripe date or two. Dates are great to have on hand to make home-made power balls or fat bombs (with pulverized nuts, coconut lard, unsweetened cocoa powder, spices, rolled into mouth sized bites and kept frozen), which can be a healthy alternative to candy or commercial power bars.

Do your whole tooth cleaning routine right after dinner: floss, water-pick then brush. Then you're done eating for the day. Which leads me to conclude with the recommendation to apply intermittent fasting every day; nothing down the hatch except water or herbal teas for at least 12 hours (overnight plus some). As you can, stretch that to 14 or even 16 hours. Maybe a longer "fast" can be applied on a weekend. Your gut needs downtime, just like the rest of your body.

Emily Kane is a naturopathic doctor based in Juneau. Contact her at dremilykane@gmail.com.

 
 

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