Healthy Digestion, Healthy You

Fermented foods are important for digestive health.

To keep your digestive system running smoothly, focus on fiber, fluids and regular exercise.

If more people really thought about how much their digestive systems do for them every day, they might be more inclined to take better care of their digestive health. Your digestive system has a huge job – it breaks down the foods that you eat in order to make nutrients and energy available to the body, and it is responsible for steering unwanted waste out of the body, too. On top of that, your digestive tract is a key player in immunity – the cells lining your digestive tract help protect your body against bacterial and viral invaders that could make you sick.

And, your brain and your digestive tract are in constant communication with one another. An incredible amount of information travels between your gut and your brain – so much so, that the nervous system that resides in your digestive tract is often called the body’s “second brain”. This system alerts the “first brain” if you’ve eaten something you shouldn’t have, and also keeps tabs on your hunger level and your mood.

And yet, many people abuse their digestive system – by filling it with highly processed foods, or eating too much, or eating too fast – and pay little attention to it until something goes wrong.

Key Components to Digestive Health

In the most general sense, what you eat and the way you live your life influences the health of your digestive system. A nutrient-rich, balanced diet helps to nourish all of your body’s cells, including those in your digestive tract. Fiber, fluids and regular exercise all help to keep you regular, and taking care of your “second brain” by keeping your stress levels in check can also help to promote digestive health.

Fiber and Fluids Support Digestive Health

Perhaps one of the most important dietary components for digestive health is adequate dietary fiber.

Most people think of fiber as the substance that helps to keep the digestive process moving. And certain fibers do just that. But not all fibers function exactly the same way, which is why we often talk about two types of fiber – insoluble and soluble fiber – both of which contribute to digestive health, but in different ways.

Insoluble fiber – sometimes called “roughage” – isn’t broken down by the body but it absorbs water, which adds bulk. This type of fiber – found in vegetables, bran and most whole grains – helps to speed the passage of waste through your digestive system, which helps keep you regular.

Soluble fiber– found in foods like apples, oranges, oats, barley and beans – thickens and swells up when it comes in contact with liquid. So, when you eat these foods, they swell up in the watery environment of your stomach and help to fill you up. But another important feature of soluble fiber is that it functions as a prebiotic – which means that it encourages the growth of the good bacteria in your digestive tract.

Your digestive system houses tens of trillions of microorganisms – made up of thousands of species – taken together, this bacterial colony is sometimes called the “gut microbiome”.

These bacteria help your body extract nutrients from your food, they help with the production of certain vitamins, and they protect the health of the digestive tract by keeping out dangerous foreign invaders. But this mini ecosystem residing in your gut appears to do even more – there is evidence that your gut microbiome may also influence your body weight, memory and mood, too. So, it’s important to provide these bacteria with their preferred source of fuel – in the form of soluble fiber.

You can also introduce beneficial bacteria into your system directly – in the form of probiotics found in certain foods. Fermented foods such as yogurt and kefir, pickles and sauerkraut, miso paste and olives are all natural sources of beneficial bacteria.

Since soluble fibers dissolve in water – and insoluble fibers trap it – it should come as no surprise that adequate fluids are important in keeping your digestive system running smoothly. But you also need water to produce saliva and digestive juices, and to transport nutrients to your cells, so taking in adequate fluids every day is vitally important to your digestive health.

Exercise and Stress Reduction Support Digestive Health

Regular exercise also supports digestive health in a couple of ways. As your muscles contract and your breath deepens during activity, the natural contractions of your intestinal muscles are stimulated, too, which helps to move food through your system. Exercise is also a well-known stress reducer, so it can help reduce digestive upsets that can occur in response to negative emotions.

The connection between your brain and your “second brain” in your digestive tract is something you’ve probably experienced in the form of a “gut reaction”. When stress or anxiety strikes, your brain sends a signal to your gut – and the next thing you know you’ve got a churning stomach.

The signals travel in the other direction, too – from gut to brain. When something in your digestive system isn’t quite right, an alert is sent to your brain, often before you even notice anything is wrong. Either way, this brain-gut connection suggests that keeping your digestive system in tip-top shape is vital to your sense of well-being.

The diet and lifestyle steps you take to keep yourself healthy are the same ones that promote digestive health, too. A diet that includes plenty of fiber from colorful fruits and vegetables and whole grains, adequate hydration, and regular exercise are all key factors. And take time to
enjoy your meals – you’ll be more relaxed, and less likely to overeat, too.

Find out more at: http://www.DiscoverHerbalife.com

Stay On Track with These Fiber Facts

Whole grain breads – good sources of fiber.

Did you know there’s more than one type of dietary fiber? Eating a wide range of plant foods will help you meet all your needs.

Fiber is important in your diet and most people don’t eat as much as they should. In addition to eating enough fiber, you also need to eat enough of the different types of fiber. That’s because not all fibers function exactly the same way—different types of fibers have different effects on the body. So, just as you should aim to eat a wide range of foods in order to get a wide array of nutrients, a varied diet helps to provide you with enough of the different types of fibers, too.

What Is Fiber and How Much Do You Need?

Fiber is the structural component of plant foods, so it’s found in vegetables, whole fruits, beans and grains (like corn or brown rice)—there’s no fiber in meats, fish or poultry.
The average American falls far short of meeting the fiber recommendation of 25-30 grams a day. In fact, most of us only eat about 10 grams a day, which means we may be missing out on the health benefits of dietary fiber. Fiber, of course, helps move the digestive process along, but high fiber foods also provide the sensation of fullness, so they help with hunger control. And certain fibers also support the growth of friendly bacteria in your digestive tract.

If you don’t eat as much fiber as you should, it’s best to increase the amount you eat gradually over a few weeks. Adding too much fiber to the diet in a short period of time might lead to abdominal discomfort and gas, so take it slowly to allow your system time to adjust. Also, drink plenty of liquid to allow the fiber to soften and swell.

Different Types of Fiber: What Are They and What Do They Do?

There are two broad classes of dietary fiber—soluble fibers and insoluble fibers.

Soluble Fibers

Soluble fibers are found in the highest concentration in apples, oranges, carrots, potatoes, oats, barley and beans. Soluble fibers dissolve in water and thicken up. If you’ve ever cooked oatmeal at home, you probably noticed it got thick and gluey as it cooked. That’s because the soluble fiber in the oats dissolved in the liquid.

When these fibers come in contact with the liquid in your stomach, they swell up and thicken, too, which is why they help keep you full. Soluble fiber slows the absorption of glucose (sugar) from the blood stream and it can help to keep blood sugar levels more even throughout the day.

Insoluble Fibers

Insoluble fibers also support the health of your digestive system, but in a different way. Insoluble fibers don’t dissolve in water—instead, they simply absorb water in the lower tract, which makes the fiber more bulky. This type of fiber, found in the highest concentrations in vegetables, wheat bran, corn bran, rice bran and most other whole grains, speeds the passage of waste through your digestive system, so it helps to keep you regular.

How Can You Tell If a Fiber Is Soluble or Insoluble?

It’s actually fairly easy to tell the two fibers apart. When you make barley soup or boil potatoes, you can easily see how the liquid thickens up—that’s because barley and potatoes are high in soluble fiber. On the other hand, when you cook brown rice—a whole grain that’s rich in insoluble fiber—it doesn’t get sticky because the fiber doesn’t dissolve. Instead, it simply absorbs water as it cooks, causing the grains to swell up.

Tips for Increasing Fiber Intake

  • Eat whole fruits with skin more often than fruit juices
  • Use whole fruit as a dessert
  • Eat a variety of whole vegetables—cooked and raw—and eat them freely
  • Use 100% whole grain breads, waffles, cereals, rolls, English muffins and crackers instead of those made with refined white flour
  • Use corn tortillas rather than flour
  • Use brown rice, wild rice, millet, barley and cracked wheat as alternatives to white rice
  • Add beans to main dish soups, stews, chili or salads
  • If you have trouble meeting your fiber intake, you can use fiber supplements. But remember that fiber supplements don’t replace the healthy fruits, vegetables and whole grains that you should be consuming.

Find out more at: http://www.DiscoverHerbalife.com

Seven Tips for Healthy Digestion

Reduce your tummy trouble with better nutrition.

A smooth running digestive system relies on the right foods at the right time.

Of all our bodily functions, we probably focus more on our digestive system than any other. I’m sure one reason for this is that we have plenty of opportunities to ‘touch base’ with our digestive tract and take a reading. After all, you get signals from your digestive system all day long—everything from “Feed me!” to “Could you loosen the belt a little!“ and “Air comin’ your way!” Your digestive system has a way of speaking up—and has a lot to say about what you put in it—as well as how much and how often.

Many of us eat too much or eat too fast. We don’t eat enough fiber. We skip meals and then subject our systems to a gigantic plate of food. Considering how much use and abuse our digestive systems have to withstand, it’s a wonder we don’t suffer more than we do. Gas, bloating, “having a hard time going” —not a day goes by that someone doesn’t complain to me about one of these common digestive problems. Let’s look at what you can do to ease any strain on your digestive system.

Common digestive system disturbances: gas, bloating and irregularity

Gas production is a normal part of the digestive process, and unless it’s excessive, it usually indicates a healthy intake of fiber and a well-functioning digestive tract. Most foods that contain carbohydrate—anything from beans to bagels—are not completely broken down during digestion. So, the resident bacteria in your intestines take over, producing gas as they complete the digestive process. The average person passes gas about 14 times a day, releasing about a half liter of gas in the process.

Some people describe feeling bloated after eating—sort of a ‘puffed up’ sensation that comes on rather quickly, mostly in the upper abdomen. It is often the result of air that gets trapped in your digestive tract, which can come from a surprising number of sources. Often, it’s simply a matter of swallowing a lot of air while you eat—which often happens if you eat too fast or do a lot of talking while you’re chewing. Sometimes carbonated beverages can leave you feeling bloated, since you’re taking in a lot of air along with your liquid. Some people get that bloated feeling when they eat a fatty meal. Fat delays the time it takes for food to leave your stomach, so it can leave you feeling uncomfortable.

Irregularity is one of the most common digestive complaints—it’s also one of the most misunderstood. Many people think if they don’t visit the bathroom on a daily basis, they’ve got a problem. But if things are moving smoothly—whether it’s three times a day or three times a week—you probably don’t have anything to worry about.

My seven tips for healthy digestion

Get enough fiber

Fiber is the structural portion of a plant, so it’s found in good-for-you foods like fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. Adults should be eating in the neighborhood of 30 grams of fiber a day, but the average intake among adults in the U.S. is only about a third of that. Our busy lifestyles contribute to the problem. When we’re eating on the go, we’re less likely to find fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Aim to have a fruit or vegetable with every meal or snack, toss some beans into a soup or salad, and choose whole grains over refined “white” breads, cereals, rice and pasta.

Get some “good” bacteria

Your digestive system is home to thousands of strains of beneficial bacteria that help to break down foods that are resistant to normal digestion. This allows you to obtain more nutrients from your foods. The bacteria in your system also help to keep the growth of other potentially harmful bacteria at bay—thus promoting healthy digestion. While the idea of consuming bacteria in your diet may not sound appealing, the probiotic bacteria found in yogurt and other fermented foods can promote digestive health. Aside from yogurt, you can pick up some of these “good” bacteria in other fermented soy products (miso, tempeh, kefir), as well as in pickled foods like cucumber pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi.

Meet your fluid needs

Fluid helps the fibers in foods to “swell” and helps to add more bulk to the material passing through the lower digestive tract, which keeps things running smoothly. Watery fruits and vegetables go a long way towards meeting fluid needs, but it’s still important to drink fluids throughout the day, too.

Get regular exercise

Exercise isn’t just for the muscles you can see—it’s good for the smooth muscles of your digestive tract, too. Exercise stimulates the muscles to contract, which keeps things “moving along.” Exercise is also a great stress-reducer, which makes it particularly good for those whose digestive systems act up when they get stressed out.

Don’t go too long without eating

When you go too long without eating, a couple of things are likely to happen: you’ll eat quickly because you’re so hungry, and you’ll eat too much because you’re starving. Either way, you could end up with a touch of indigestion. Your digestive system is likely to be a lot happier if you eat regular meals and snacks throughout the day.

Take your time…making dietary changes

Often when people are bothered by gas, they figure the best thing to do is to eliminate ‘gassy’ foods like beans or broccoli from the diet. But rather than eliminating these healthy foods, try eating just small amounts over several days to give your system time to adjust. Similarly, if you’re trying to add more fiber to your diet, work your way up to the recommended 25-30 grams of fiber gradually.

Take your time…eating and eliminating

When you eat too fast, not only does it lessen the enjoyment of your meal, but you’re more likely to swallow air which can lead to gas and bloating. And when you eat too quickly, you’re more likely to overeat since it takes your stomach about 20 minutes to tell your brain that you’re full. And that can lead to further digestive discomfort. Lastly, when nature calls, be sure to listen. Too many people put off visits to the restroom if the urge to “go” strikes at an inconvenient time. Sure, the urge may pass—but if you put it off, you’re more likely to have trouble getting the job done.

Find out more at: http://www.DiscoverHerbalife.com

Fresh raspberries and blueberries

From www.DiscoverGoodNutrition.com

My first crop of berries this season

Our first berry crop of the year - California offers up a great climate for year-round gardening.

My husband and I have small farm outside of Los Angeles that we’ve been nurturing for the last few years.  Just this week we harvested our very first crop of fresh blueberries and raspberries.

These delicious fruits are nutrition powerhouses – full of antioxidants, vitamin C, potassium and fiber – and we’re enjoying them just as they are for dessert, on top of our yogurt, and in our protein shakes.

North Beach Nutrition - San Clemente Nutrition Bar - Offering Healthy Smoothies - Hot & Cold Tea - and Health Coaching To Help You Reach Your Fitness Goals. 1502 N El Camino Real San Clemente CA 92672