March is National Nutrition Month. For dietitians, every DAY is “Nutrition Month”. Every March however, dietitians throughout Canada ramp things up with an annual reminder for Canadians to seek nutrition information from reliable sources in these times of many ‘alternative’ facts. (For more on the Nutrition Month, check out Dietitians.ca and nutritionmonth2017.ca)
This year’s Nutrition Month theme is “taking the fight out of food”. One area where there are many fights and much confusion is with gut health or digestive woes. There are many savvy marketers making ALOT of money in this realm!
In addition to seeing ourselves in the mirror, imagine if we could walk through a giant x-ray machine and see the INSIDE of our body. What kind of shape would it be in? Thinking about eating from the inside out, helps in choosing nourishing food that will pass through our body smoothly and healthfully.
3 Big Digestive Woes for Many
- Wondering if you’re gluten-intolerant?
- If truly intolerant to gluten, you’ll have all kinds of symptoms that can range from bloating and gas to headaches and skin rashes after eating foods containing gluten. Pick up dietitian Shelley Case’s book, The Gluten Free Diet, for a starting point if suspecting you might be gluten intolerant.
- There’s a very long list of symptoms that can be associated with gluten intolerance or celiac disease
- It’s logical to be suspicious of gluten if you experience symptoms after eating foods (or beverages) containing B.R.O.W (Barley, Rye, Oats and Wheat) and find relief when eliminating them from your diet
- Before going off these nutritious foods for life, talk to a dietitian to ensure your food intake stays well balanced and enjoyable
2. Do I need pro-biotics?
- You’ve heard about pro-biotics…if you’re wanting/needing more good gut bacteria, before taking a number of supplements, keep eating probiotic-rich yogurt and fermented foods, but also ramp up the PRE-biotics in your diet.
- Gut enhancing pre-biotics don’t get the same spotlight as the pro-biotics, but they deserve it equally. Pre-biotics contain non-digestible fibre (including a really great fibre called inulin) that passes through the small intestine and hangs out in the large intestine where it’s fermented by good gut bacteria
- Great pre-biotic foods include: Jerusalem artichoke, garlic, onion, leeks, slightly under-ripe bananas, asparagus, dandelion leaves, jicama, tomatoes, lentils, flax seed and others. Note: before eating dandelion greens, ensure they are from a clean and safe source.
- High pre-biotic intakes are linked to improved digestion, immune health, weight management, heart health, hormone and stress balance
3. Why am I so gassy and bloated?
- This can be habit-related in many cases and not necessarily a sign of any underlying disease or problematic food. Passing gas is normal, up to 25 times a day!!!
- If you’re excessively gassy, look at eliminating these potential culprits:
- Swallowed air from eating too fast, using straws and/or sipping from water bottles and lids on cups
- Gum chewing – it can cause swallowing excess air. Gum commonly also contains sugar alcohols like sorbitol and mannitol which aren’t digested. These can also be present in some energy bars and certain candies.
- Individual gas-causing foods – such as those in the cabbage-family of vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower – all highly nutritious and worth eating), onions and garlic, as well as carbonated beverages
- Very fatty foods and heavily spiced foods can also be gas-causing for some people
If you suspect you have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), talk to your dietitian before eliminating anything or starting a FODMAPS elimination diet. (If you haven’t heard of FODMAPS, it’s worth googling. Look for information from registered dietitians and Monash University out of Australia.)
To watch Marke and I discussing gas on CTV Morning Live, click here.