- Eat gut-friendly foods. The gut loves lean protein, healthy fats and a balanced bacterial flora. My favourite kind of food for the gut is anything with a dose of probiotics like fermented Sauerkraut and Kimchi. As a bonus, these two are made of cabbage which has a slight natural laxative effect. I like Bubbie’s Sauerkraut, $9 (only 3 ingredients: water, salt, cabbage- love it!) and Live Raw’s Kimchi, 10.99$.
Gut-friendly foods involve every ingredient that is found in my “HealthyGut Salmon Salad”:
Serves 2 people: Two big handfuls of a mix of spinach and arugula, 1 avocado, sliced cucumber, oyster or crimini mushrooms sautéed a bit in olive oil, raw white onion slices, a few sprinkles of sauerkraut, chopped parsley, wild atlantic salmon filet. I marinate the salmon in a dijon mustard and dried herb seasoning (like Mrs. Dash) for around 12 minutes at 350 degrees. While this is baking, I’ll mix the salad together in my HealthyGut salad dressing: 1 tbs of olive oil, 1 tbs of dijon and 1 tbs of shaken Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar ($6), 1/2 tsp of brown rice syrup and 1/2 tsp of Bragg’s Liquid Amino (seen in this Blog post from a few days ago.) Anything with apple cider vinegar is good for your tummy. Sometimes I’ll take a shot of apple cider vinegar straight 30 minutes before a meal to get my stomach acid going and prevent acid reflux.
2. Core-strengthening exercises. I love pilates because every move involves the core. There are two types of pilates that I do. Mat pilates is more challenging and reformer machine pilates, in my opinion, is more fun and you can chose to work against different levels of resistance. I will post more about this amazing workout soon because I am such a fan! I also love swimming for toning your waistline. A few laps a day is easy on your joints and gives your body a toned and streamline look. If you’re not into pilates or swimming, try simple exercises like doing a plank of 30 seconds-1 minute a few times per day.
How to Plank: forearms on the ground, palms flat down and shoulder-width apart, shoulders away from ears, belly button is pulled up towards spine, head/neck is neutral with spine (don’t look up). I like to pretend I’m stretching the floor under me but squeezing my arms and feet away from each other to really engage the core.
3. Eat slower. So many people don’t realize it but they are eating way too fast. Take your time. Have a conversation so you have to take breaks between bites. Just focus on relaxing with your food and savouring every taste rather than racing it down like you’re in a rush! It takes a while for your body to get the signal that you are full. When you eat slowly, you give your body that time to receive the signal BEFORE you overeat. This will help portion control and weight-loss.
4. Chew more. Sounds so simple but make a conscious effort to chew your food more. This way, you break down your food enough so your stomach doesn’t have to overwork in the peristalsis stage (churning of your stomach and pushing the food downward). Less bloating is the result of less strenuous work for the digestive system. Do you ever eat a meal and then feel so tired afterwards that you want to nap? You might not be chewing enough and eating too fast. By being a slower and more conscious eater, you might find that you have more energy during the day if your body needs less energy for digestion.
5. Lots of water. If I have an event or a beach day coming up, I make sure to drink at least 9 tall glasses of water the day/night before. This helps flush the digestive system and you’ll wake up with a flatter stomach. Try my Anti-Bloat Water infused with cucumber and mint (Blog post coming soon!)
6. Good posture. It is so important for so many health reasons to maintain good posture. The more you slouch, the more your tummy will retain the protruded shape that it is used to being in. Like my mom always says, “Pretend there’s a string attached the top of your head and someone is pulling it upwards”. When I’m sitting in class, I keep checking that my shoulders are rolled back. Occasionally, I hold my abdominals flexed for few seconds as a mini workout and a reminder to straighten up. Pilates trains muscles to maintain good posture and make you taller.
7. Probiotics & Digestive Enzymes. I used to have chronic bloating with stress until an intern at the school’s clinic, the RSNC, prescribed me these. With stress, the body doesn’t digest properly and needs help! Enzymes and probiotics improve gut flora and help break down food further so you can absorb more nutrients. Once digestion is improved, elimination also improves and bowel movements are more regulated. I take a probiotic when I wake up and one before dinner. I take a digestive enzyme before lunch. If I’m travelling, I’ll take the digestive enzymes 3x a day before every meal instead of bringing the probiotics that need to be refrigerated. My favourite digestive enzymes contains HCl because I produce low stomach acid when I’m stressed out. Below are the brands that I use. It is REALLY important to talk to your naturopath and make sure they will work for you because everyone has different gut microbiomes and needs different variety of strains of bacteria.
8. Skip the wheat, dairy and sugar! These foods don’t work for tiny tummies. The sugar from these three belly-enemies don’t get be broken down very well and bacteria in your stomach starts to ferment it. When this happens, water is drawn in by osmosis and creates bloating. Low sugar intake keeps insulin low and will keep glucagon high. Glucagon is a hormone that tells the body to use energy by breaking down fat whereas insulin is a hormone that tells the body to store sugar in fat.
9. Be aware of your food sensitivities. If you ever find yourself frequently feeling bloated after meals, maybe it’s time for you to consider if you have any food sensitivities. Food intolerances are actually quite common. Once you narrow down what your body doesn’t agree with, quality of life can improve drastically. Inquire to your naturopath about IgG testing, a test that gives you a huge list of different types of food (ex. wheat, bananas, red pepper, etc.) with a score of how well your body reacts to them. If you don’t want to spend money on a test like this, naturopathic doctors can guide you through an elimination diet. Rumour has it that once a patient tries this type of diet and realizes their food sensitivities, they never go back to eating that type of food based on how incredible they felt without it!