January is upon us and so are the countless number of fad diets, ‘lose weight quick’ exercise regimes and detox plans. Here at Just for Tummies, we don’t advocate crash dieting, or dieting at all for that matter, so we’re taking a different approach towards getting your health back on track in 2022.
Before explaining how that can be done, let’s touch on why it’s a good idea to reboot your digestive system in the first place.
Your Digestive System
The human body has a daily requirement for a number of different vitamins, minerals, protein, fats and carbohydrates to sustain health. When the digestive system isn’t functioning to its full potential, it becomes increasingly difficult to absorb all of these essential nutrients, even if the food you are eating is of the highest quality.
When the nutrients don’t reach their required destination, you’ll struggle to feel your best. As Hippocrates stated more than 2000 years ago: ‘All disease begins in the gut.’ Whilst his statement may not account for genetic diseases (genetics simply wasn’t around then), modern medicine is increasingly proving that there is a connection between the gut and overall health. Thus, rebooting the digestive system can form the foundation for a healthier you.
Your January Reboot Plan
My January reboot plan incorporates 5 steps that should ideally be carried out over 30 days. Depending on your current health, it may take you longer to notice the benefits so be patient and move through the steps at your own pace.
Step 1 – Remove
Symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, flatulence, diarrhoea and/or constipation may be related to food intolerances or an irritated digestive system.
Removing foods that you suspect don’t agree with you for a period of 30 days is the ideal place to start. If you are unsure what does or does not agree with you, begin with dairy and gluten, since gluten sensitivity and lactose intolerance tend to be two of the most widespread culprits. Focus on introducing higher nutrient foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds to replace the gluten and dairy.
Step 2 – Calm
Once the potential irritants have been eliminated, it is time to give your digestive system a bit of a hug. Irritants work a little bit like insects – they leave an annoying and inflamed bite behind that’s different from the surrounding skin. The second step in rebooting the digestive system is to calm this inflammation with anti-inflammatory compounds.
Research indicates that Omega 3 fatty acids, found in fish as well as flax and chia seeds are one of the most potent anti-inflammatories. Flavonoids, which are simply the colour pigments found in berries, cherries, tomatoes and dark leafy green vegetables, also act as powerful anti-inflammatories.
These deeply coloured fruits and vegetables are also brimming with a whole host of vitamins and minerals, all of which will contribute to better digestive health. Try adding 5 portions a day for maximum effect. In addition, herbs and spices such as thyme, fennel, garlic and clove can also help dampen inflammation. Add them to food, or drink them as part of a soothing herbal tea. My Tummy Tea is a wonderful calming herbal infusion that will support the digestive system during any kind of reboot – in fact, any time you fancy a really delicious cuppa!
Step 3 – Repair
Once food is digested, nutrients enter the body via the gut lining. If, however, the gut lining is damaged, nutrient absorption can become compromised. Food sensitivities, infections, medications and the overuse of stimulants, such as caffeine or alcohol, can all contribute to this damage. For repair to take place, the digestive system needs a bit of a break and that is where fasting can make a difference. Fasting for as little as 16 hours can help the body to repair more efficiently. Whilst this may seem like a long time to go without food, in reality, a 16-hour fast is just having an early dinner and skipping breakfast the following day.
‘Pre-digested’ meals, such as soups and smoothies can also reduce the load on the digestive system whilst delivering crucial nutrients. Both of these dishes are ‘pre-chewed’ by a blender so there is much less for your digestive system to do.
Digestive enzymes can further support digestive function by allowing the body to break down foods into nutrients more efficiently. Enzymes are ordinarily produced by the pancreas, a notoriously sensitive organ that can become overwhelmed easily. Supplementing with digestive enzymes during the repair phase of the digestive reboot can help support the pancreas whilst improving food breakdown. Make sure you have a pot of my Digestive Enzymes tablets to hand!
Introducing glutamine can aid the repair of the gut lining. Drinking a cup of good quality bone broth (a chicken, fish or beef stock that has been simmered for 8 or more hours) every other day is a cheap and easy way to obtain bioavailable glutamine. If drinking bone broth doesn’t come easily to you, add it to a soup for a nutritious lunch.
Step 4 – Relax
This is a really critical part of the process. If you want to get the most from your reboot, make time to relax. The negative effects of stress on the digestive system are well documented, so a bath, an hour of reading or perhaps a yoga class will go a long way to help boost the repair process.
Step 5 – Re-colonise and Reintroduce
From modulating the immune system to keeping the gut lining in good condition, gut bacteria that live in the large intestine can play a key role in digestive health. Among these bacteria, there are ‘good’ ones that promote health and ‘bad’ ones that can contribute to symptoms such as bloating, distention and gas. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species are two ‘good’ bacteria types that come with a whole host of benefits, including their ability to dampen inflammation.
These advantageous bacteria can help to eliminate the bad ones by literally making the area around them sour. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, and kimchi, and supplements such as my Live Bacteria capsules can support the balance of good bacteria by introducing more of them.
The Live Bacteria are one of the four ‘go-to’ supplements in my Perfect Balance Kit, ideal for using in conjunction with the 5 steps outlined above. Aimed at rebooting misbehaving tummies and optimising digestive function, the Kit contains plant-based Digestive Enzymes tablets, high-strength Garlic tablets, super-high-strength Omega 3 fish oil capsules, as well as the Live Bacteria probiotic capsules. And you can save money by buying the Kit rather than the individual pots of supplements!
Cleansing your system by addressing what you’re eating and drinking, and then boosting digestion with these targeted supplements will turbo-charge your health and have your overall wellbeing back on track in no time.
Once you’ve made it through your digestive reboot, try reintroducing those problem foods that were initially removed. Do this one by one, with a clear one-week break between foods and note any symptoms you may experience. For example, you reintroduce gluten by having a slice of toast or cake and note down symptoms. Bloating, gas and tummy cramps would be indicative that this food doesn’t agree with you. If, on the other hand, you feel OK, then that slice of cake is fair game (as a treat every now and then, of course). Reintroduce a second food a week later and continue in this way until you find a diet that suits you and your tummy.
Are you struggling to get your health back on track after a few too many festive indulgences? Maybe you’ve found a really great way to reboot your system. Why not share your story on my Tummy Talk Facebook page? You’ll find a wealth of wisdom from all kinds of experts from a broad range of complementary health backgrounds.