Optimizing your Digestion during Springtime
Springtime has a lot of my patients thinking about diets, cleanses, and what they’re putting into their bodies in general. This self evaluation is definitely necessary to check in with yourself about your personal health goals and what modifications may be necessary, but it’s important to make informed and personalized choices as opposed to what’s presented on the internet or social media.
I often explain to my patients that if there is inflammation or dis-ease in the gut (bloating, constipation, diarrhea, cramping, irregular bowel movements, etc), then there will be inflammation in the entire body. Our bodies are holistic, meaning nothing functions separately, and what is effecting one part of the body will inevitably affect the other.
Tending to the digestive system is important for many different physiological processes in the body. A healthy gut is intimately linked to mental health. It is estimated that about 90% of the body’s serotonin (the happy neurotransmitter) is produced in the gut. The basis of the immune system also arises from the strength of the gut.
Your gut health also has a huge impact on fertility. Check out our naturopath, Dr. Ashley Damm’s blog post about fertility and digestion.
Warmer weather inspires cold drinks, smoothies, ice cream, salads, and a generally more cold and raw palate. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in moderation, but too much cold and raw foods can actually impair the digestive system. In traditional Chinese medicine, we like to describe the digestive system as a furnace, or fire. It requires a lot of heat and energy to break down food into usable particles and absorb the proper nutrients. When you put a lot of cold and raw foods into your body, it requires more energy to heat it up to your body’s innate temperature and more enzymes to break it down. This can “put out” the digestive fires and cause symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, cramping, malabsorption of nutrients, and undigested food in the stool.
Ways to strengthen your digestive system:
Eat warm cooked food and drinks, avoid anything straight out of the refrigerator or freezer.
Anti-inflammatory, gut friendly diet. Try reducing or eliminating common digestive triggers such as gluten, dairy, sugar, and alcohol.
Zinc and probiotics help balance the microbiome and strengthen the walls of the intestines.
Regular acupuncture can help regulate peristalsis (the movement of the intestines to regulate bowel movements), reduce inflammation, and activate the parasympathetic nervous system (important for the gut as it has its own enteric nervous system and parasympathetic nervous system mode is crucial for digesting food).
Chinese herbal medicine can work internally by regulating appetite, reducing bloating, regulating bowel movements, reducing digestive cramps, and improving energy.
Studies show low level laser therapy has a beneficial impact on the microbiome (one of the reasons we love putting the laser arrays on the abdomen for our fertility protocol).
For complex digestive problems I love referring my patients to our Naturopaths that do in house testing as well as have access to the latest lab testing (like our GI maps).
If you are interested in looking into the root cause of your digestive problems, or are looking to optimize your health and digestion to reduce inflammation, improve fertility, immunity, or mental health, feel free to book a complimentary 15 minute phone consultation.