Year of The Gut
Here we are in the new year, 2014. Last year in the Paleo community there was a lot of talk about sleep, food, and training; all are stresses when done at the wrong amount and at the wrong time - without a focus on quality. Many folks already know this and have taken action by monitoring general stress levels.
One contributor to stress that has not received enough focus is the gut. Problems with the gut include lack of integrity of the lining. Parasites, yeasts, and bacterial overgrowths in the gut are often great contributors to general stress and are quite common. Of the gut tests I distributed, 85% came back positive for one of the above infections! Gut issues are easily healed herbally or through an MD if antibiotics are needed.
I am going to give you some ideas on how to check in on your gut. There is a ton of information out there, and hopefully you will open the door to becoming a student of your own health.
Get tested. There are several practitioners that offer stool tests, including myself. The basic MD stool test that asks for only one smear may not be sensitive enough. Most of the better tests require 2-5 stool samples over 2-4 days. Even if you feel fine, it is a good idea to get tested periodically; travel, eating out, and owning pets are the top risk factors for acquiring gut infections.
Find a good probiotic and take it daily! If you are not getting enough probiotics daily through food such as sauerkraut, kimchee or other fermented food sources, a good supplement can keep that gut flora in check. My favorite, recommended by Dallas Hartwig of Whole9, is the Klaire Labs There-Biotic 6. It has 100+billion colony forming units (CFU's) of multi-species probiotics per capsule!
Look into resistant starches. From improving blood sugar to the flora in your gut, according to my findings, resistant starch is very benign and worth an "N of 1" clinical study of a single patient—in this case, yourself. If you have issues with digestion or blood sugar balancing, try it and see how you feel. It costs only about $3 for a bag of potato starch or plantain flour, both sources of resistant starch.
Basically, resistant starch passes through the small intestine and is fermented in the large intestine where it puts off butyrate and butyrate-producing microbes. Butyrate is a short chain fatty acid that has therapeutic potential and enhances gut health along with helping the gut absorb nutrients. For more information on how to utilize this in your diet, listen to Robb Wolf's Paleo Podcast with Chris Kresser. Just a heads up: start slowly, one teaspoon in water is a good start, then work up to four teaspoons over several weeks. Starting too fast may result in intense gas problems!
Eat wisely. Putting junk into your body makes your intestines a leaky mess! Not sure what you are sensitive to? Trying the Whole30 will answer your questions and will guide you in finding out your food sensitivities.
Taking care of your gut is a major way to decrease systemic inflammation and even improve your mood. Remember, the gut is the second brain and it moderates many of our body’s systems. I have given you some ideas on how to get started having the most efficient function and minimizing inflammation through the gut. This year might be the year to focus on your gut and see just how Strong, Healthy and Happy you can feel!