What’s the cause behind why so many women who do their utmost to take care of their health each day, still wrestle with nagging issues like low energy, bloating and gas after meals, and a recurring case of the blues, despite working on mindfulness and gratitude?
You’d be surprised to know that the answer is quite uncomplicated. The cause is due to owning a compromised gut.
Primary Reasons For A Compromised Gut
Low Stomach Acid
The issues and discomforts that come with a compromised gut (i.e. gas, bloating, abdominal pain, anxiety, and depression) can be contributed, partially, to low stomach acid. When your stomach acid is low, the gut can’t do a good job breaking down the food you’ve eaten.
Take for example, protein. With low stomach acid, the proper enzyme needed to break down the protein into its simplest forms of amino acids and peptides, isn’t released.
To spare you the deep science talk, all this means is that if protein doesn’t get fully broken down in your intestines, it just sits in there and “rots”, releasing fumes that you perceive as gas, bloating, heartburn, and a number of other wonky digestion terms.
Just like a low amount of stomach acid can cause proteins to remain undigested, the same is true for carbohydrates. When undigested carbohydrates are just hanging out they lend a hand to bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, causing you to experience more gas and some rather harsh heartburn.
Tips to increase stomach acid naturally
Stop taking acid blocking pills.
Yes, I know it sounds counterproductive, but when you have heartburn the answer is not to pop a Prilosec or Nexium. Heartburn comes from having low stomach acid, not high.
Take an HCL (stomach acid) supplement.
Another “home remedy” option is to mix 1-2 tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar (Braggs is my go-to) into 6-8 ounces of water and drink it at least 10-minutes before your next meal. Or you can take a half shot of the stuff like my husband. Both get the job done.
Stop eating a low protein diet.
I.e. vegetarian and vegan diets are both super low in protein causing you to automatically start out with a low amount of residual stomach acid.
Stop being miserable. In other words, reduce stress. It’s probably the easiest said but hardest to do tip for increasing stomach acid. But, Fringe & Fitness is all about self care so you’re in the right place!
My latest experiment in stress reduction was mapping out what I want to do more of that lights my fire, and what I can do less of that doesn’t make me happy. You can learn about it here in Create Your Big Picture Happiness, and get the guide to experiment.
Reduced Digestive Enzyme Production
Our digestive enzymes play a very straightforward role in the digestion of food: they do the job of breaking down huge molecules into small molecules so that those molecules can pass through the gut and into the bloodstream to be used by our cells. Whew – a pretty important job if you ask me.
We have digestive enzymes in our mouth, our stomach, and in our small intestine and are 100% necessary to break down the macronutrients protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
These digestive enzymes don’t work alone; they need good ol’ stomach acid in order to do their job. If the stomach acid isn’t there to give each of the partially digested foods in your stomach (called chyme) just the right acidity, the digestive enzymes are not produced.
Which, in turn, translates again into gas, bloating, pain, and a funky mood.
A few other causes of reduced digestive enzyme production are stress (you see why I had to write I guide for creating happiness), micronutrient deficiency (because again these enzymes don’t work alone), and eating the Standard American Diet – highly processed and refined/cooked foods that have no enzymes at all.
Tips to increase digestive enzymes naturally
First and foremost is to pump up your stomach acid production.
Secondly, if you’re looking for immediate relief from discomfort you can take supplemental nutrients.
I’m not a functional medicine doctor nor do I play one here online so the following are only my suggestions. Purchase and use at your own discretion:
- Ox bile (not really an enzyme but ups your fat absorption; ideal for people with no gallbladder)
- Ginger (you can find hunks of the raw stuff in the produce section)
- Bromelain (found in abundance in pineapples and good for protein digestion)
- Acid Stable Protease (increased protein digestion)
- Pancreatin (a mixture of enzymes good for digesting protein, fats, and carbs)
Reducing gut inflammation is obviously a huge issue when addressing a compromised gut, but it’s also the hardest one to give a summary of simply because there are tons are possible reasons for it.
Gut inflammation can come not only from the foods you eat, but also from your environment (like pesticides, BPA, and a moldy house), stress (you notice a trend here?), gut infections, inability of your gut to absorb nutrients, an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in your intestines, and dozens more reasons – these are just the most common ones.
Tips to reduce intestinal inflammation naturally
Again, because this is such a complex and involved issue, I’m going to give you the tips that will help with your gut inflammation no matter what the cause.
Eat a “real food” diet.
The Paleo and Primal methods are ideal, and even the Weston A. Price method is better than eating a processed standard American diet.
Take it easy on the veggies.
This might sound sacrilegious but if you have an inflamed gut, not all fruits and vegetables are ideal for you, specifically the ones containing insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber further irritates inflamed intestines.
The best thing to do is reduce the amount and variety of veggies you eat. Look up the fruits and vegetables that are in season for your state/region and stick to those.
Remember, vegetables are like coconut oil: a little goes a long way. You won’t be missing out on anything major by narrowing your options.
Try a low-FODMAP diet.
FODMAPS are specific types of carbs that are hard to digest by people with SIBO and those who have an imbalance of good and bad gut bacteria (dysbiosis).
GAPS is a super in depth anti-inflammatory gut healing diet. It’s superb for people with SIBO, dysbiosis, and IBD.
So to recap, the 3 primary or most common causes of a compromised gut are low stomach acid, decreased digestive enzyme production, and intestinal inflammation.
All of which can leave your gut and your mood feeling in a funk. You don’t have to depend on antacids, cut out entire food groups, or live in debilitating pain and mental misery for the rest of your life.
You simply have to start exploring the option of taking the real food/non-western medicine route to learn that you can control and heal a compromised gut.
If you’d like to start exploring this option now, sign up for a personalized Gut Check. Or, if you’re ready to go all in and solve your gut issues once and for all, apply to go through my 1:1 gut health coaching program, Project Gut Overhaul.
Learn more about Jasmine.
Jasmine Cabrera is a certified Primal Health Coach, NASM personal trainer, and owner of Health By Jasmine. Her expertise lies in helping women at their wit’s end from dieting, wonky digestion, and stress meltdowns finally experience normality by helping them fix their gut and adopt a real food eating style.
Drawing from her years as a personal trainer, Jasmine can also write for you a personalized strength program that’ll help recoup any past injury or physical ailment. Learn more about how Jasmine can be of service to you at www.healthbyjasmine.com.
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