How often do you think about the health of your internal plumbing?
You’re probably focusing on everything you can change in the mirror. No one is blaming you. It’s one hell of a feeling to wake up and see less cushion around your belly. Or the proud moment when you fit into a pair of pants you haven’t been able to button since college.
Your guts aren’t causing embarrassment when you take your shirt off in front of your wife, so there’s no need to think about it. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
If this happens to be your mindset, you’re in need of some education, bud.
In case you’re wondering, getting your digestion and gut health under control WILL help you strip off the belly fat. Along with a host of other benefits which will have you sitting pretty atop the porcelain throne.
For those of you who don’t have a vested interest in my life, I’m an elite professional when it comes to digestion issues. An elite professional in the sense I’ve had an inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis (UC), attempting to tear up my insides for just shy of ten years.
The feeling of being stabbed in the abdomen all day every day.
Doing my best Usain Bolt impression in the middle of the night to get to the bathroom.
Losing weight faster than a contestant on the Biggest Loser, except not having weight to lose in the first place.
You know, anything which can be remotely embarrassing, painful, or unpleasant in terms of digestion.
If anyone can attest to how much of a drag it is to have your guts malfunctioning, it’s certainly myself.
Thankfully, my experience is going to help you develop guts of steel.
What Screws Your Gut Health
Before jumping into what needs to be done to improve gut health, you need to be aware of the many things which wreck it in the first place.
You wake up with a runny nose and a case of the sniffles, so you head to your doctor’s office where he prescribes you an antibiotic.
Even though the well-meaning doc is trying to provide you with immediate relief, the effect those drugs are having on your gut bacteria aren’t doing you any favors.
It’s been shown one round of antibiotics can permanently alter the diversity of your beneficial gut bacteria. One round…how many times have you been prescribed an antibiotic throughout your life?
Living in a Hermetically Sealed Bubble
In case you didn’t know, spending most of your time in environments which are completely cut off from nature isn’t what your body is designed for.
Nature provides your body with plenty of opportunities to improve the health of your gut.
This ties into society’s obsession with being clean. Having a wrestling match in mud isn’t going to cause a slow and painful death, in fact, it’ll probably do you some good.
No need to dig too deep into this one. When processed and packaged foods are the core of your diet, your digestive system is going to take a beating.
Unfortunately, are society isn’t designed with your health and fitness goals in mind. Pollution, the water supply, chemicals used to grow crops, hormones for creating teenage mutant ninja cows, plastics, cleaning products, and hygiene products can all interfere with your gut bacteria.
These are some of the more prevalent environmental toxins you’ll encounter. There are bound to be more with the rate at which the environment is becoming industrialized.
Draino for Your Gut
Now you know all of the ways in which you’re receiving a theoretical punch in the gut, let’s go over some changes you can make to up your digestion game so it’s helping you lean up instead of packing on extra layers like a southerner vacationing in Canada.
Crowd out the Crap Nutrition with the Good
Since food is the one thing actually coming into contact with the digestive system, it’s important to tackle this son of a gun first.
Instead of creating the mindset of avoiding this food or the other, think about adding in the good shit.
Add a fist sized serving of vegetables to each meal. Hell, make it two servings.
Drink AT LEAST half of your body weight in ounces of water every day.
Eat one or two palm sized servings of protein (chicken, turkey, eggs, beef, seafood, etc.) with every meal. Grassed finished being the best options, if your wallet allows.
Once you begin to incorporate all of these positive habits into your nutrition plan, there’s not going to be any room for the unwise options.
Also, you’ll notice it is way easier to think about all of the foods you can have versus thinking about the things to avoid.
Start thinking about the things you’re trying to avoid and I guarantee Ben & Jerry’s Milk and Cookies ice cream is going to be in your refrigerator tonight.
Become Friends with Dirt
You don’t have to become actual friends with dirt. Simply use it for all of the dirty pleasures it offers you then forget it ever existed.
Check in your area for a farmer’s market then go take a peek at the produce. Is there some dirt on it? Good. Eat it.
So you don’t have to eat dirt straight, but don’t get too overenthusiastic when you’re rinsing your lettuce off.
Assuming the soil the vegetables comes from is quality (chances are it is if it’s a farmer’s market), you’ll be adding in some quality microbes for your gut.
If you really want to enjoy the gut fortifying benefits dirt offers, get dirty. Shove your hands in it. Throw a dirt clod at a loved one. Create some sweet looking war paint on your face.
Eat Some Fermented Foods
Sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and pickles are the go to options for upping your probiotic game.
Probiotics reintroduce good bacteria into your digestive system which will aid in digestion so you’re not destroying bathrooms left and right, improve mental clarity so you can knock out those TPS reports, and crowd out the bad bacteria which are causing you to crave pancakes for dinner.
When purchasing any of these items, make sure they’re refrigerated. If they’ve been pasteurized, it defeats the purpose of eating probiotics since all of those little critters are supposed to be alive once they hit your gut.
So your hamburger pickles aren’t going to cut it.
You may have noticed yogurt was left out of the options. For starters, are you 100% sure you tolerate dairy well? You may not be hitting the bathroom immediately after having a little dairy, but it doesn’t mean you tolerate it well.
Take two weeks and go cold turkey with dairy. Reintroduce it into your diet and if you feel absolutely no difference, then go to town on some yogurt.
Be sure to buy a brand that’s not sponsored by an actress talking about how regular she is. No one gives a crap about your crap, Hollywood.
Avoid Antibiotics Like they’re a Cubs Fan
This was touched on earlier.
You don’t need an antibiotic every time you don’t feel top notch. As surprising as it may seem, your body is pretty flipping smart, so I’m sure it’ll figure out a way to fight off any foreign invaders by using that thing called your immune system.
Granted, if you have a case of gangrene or flesh eating bacteria, pop those antibiotics with a Pez dispenser.
Improve your Water
This one is a little more aggressive, but the water supply is a contributing factor for your gut health.
Do you know what chemical is used to “clean” water?
Do you know what chemical can kill your bacteria similar to antibiotics?
I sure hope you answered with chlorine because you have more problems to worry about than your gut, if not.
It’s no wonder digestive problems are so prevalent in the country. You have no choice but to down a chemical when trying to get hydrated.
All hope isn’t lost, though.
Using a water filter is the best route for you. But your Brita filter isn’t going to hack it. The only thing it will do is remove the smell and taste of chlorine, not the actual chemical.
Hey, at least you’re not smelling or tasting anything when your insides are being ravaged, right?
Also, do you know who makes Brita filters? Clorox…not exactly the company you want handling your health concerns.
The best option for a water filter is going to be a reverse osmosis filter. You can go with a whole house option, which is going to be very pricey, or with an under the sink version, which will only set you back a hundred bucks or so.
Mind Your Manners
Have you ever watched the typical person eat? I bet it reminds you of a scene from Jurassic Park: Flesh flying across the room; children running in fear; grown men being eaten alive while sitting on a toilet.
You’re not training for the hot dog eating contest next Fourth of July, so there’s no need to impersonate Joey Chestnut.
The signal your stomach sends to your brain letting it know there’s no vacancy can take up to 20 minutes. Are you taking at least 20 minutes to finish a meal?
If not, give it a try sometime. You may notice there’s quite a bit more food left on your plate than what you’re used to.
In between bites, put your fork down. That next bite of BBQ is going to taste amazing, but it doesn’t need to be waiting on deck while you’re chewing.
Follow your mom’s instructions and don’t talk or chew with your mouth open. Not only does it let excess air into your digestive system causing bloating and cramps, it’s freaking disgusting to those around you. Don’t be that guy.
What to do next
Please do not run out and try to implement every single one of these changes today. There’s a good chance that’ll back fire.
Where you’re going to see the biggest return on your investment is getting your nutrition dialed in. This may take a decent amount of time, but one small change can lead to drastic improvements.
Start adding in those small habits every two or three weeks and in no time your gut on the inside and out will be well on its way to sexyville.
- Up your nutrition game. Crowd out the crap with a fist of veggies and palm of protein at each meal, along with drinking half your body weight in ounces of water every day
- Get dirty. Walk barefoot in it, don’t use gloves while you garden, or challenge a friend to a mud wrestling match. I recommend the latter
- Eat some good bacteria. Eat half a serving of probiotic rich foods every day
- Avoid antibiotics. Let your immune system do what it was designed to do. You know…keep you alive and whatnot
- Use quality water. This will be the hardest, and priciest, option, but you wouldn’t want to drink water from your public pool, right? Your faucet isn’t quite as bad, but it’s not great
- Mind your manners. Slow your role while you eat and put the fork down between bites