Spring Clean Your Gut with Superstar Naturopath Dr. Courtney Raineri
There is a saying that goes “all disease begins in the gut” and in many ways, it couldn’t be truer, especially for me on my journey to optimal health while managing a chronic condition. I know that when your gut health isn’t in the best shape, it can impact all aspects of life – from your hormones to your immune system. On top of that, nobody likes to feel uncomfortable or bloated and as the weather gets warmer, that feeling can be the ultimate downer. So, let’s explore some ways to optimize your gut health with my own personal ND and superhuman Dr. Courtney Raineri.
1) Boost Your Microbiome
The microbiome is the collection of microorganisms living in and on our bodies. Did you know that a healthy human gut is home to around 3-4 pounds and up to 1000 different species of bacteria? Most of bacteria is beneficial and necessary to help break down food, keep harmful bacteria out, synthesize vitamins + absorb nutrients.
Your microbiome is important for more than just digestion, it has also been linked to weight management, heart health, diabetes, brain health and more.
How to Support Your Microbiome:
- Get enough fibre
- Healthy bacteria in your gut feed off fibre in foods. Bulk up on foods like veggies, fruits, flax, chia seeds and whole grains.
- Include probiotic-rich foods
- like coconut yogurt, kefir, vegetable ferments (like sauerkraut) and kombucha to help support your microbiome.
- Probiotic supplements can also help, if necessary.
- What to look for in a Probiotic supplement:
- Probiotics that include a variety of strains.
- Adequate amounts of live cultures (called CFU’s).
- Strains that are specific to your concern: bloating, traveler’s diarrhea, vaginal health, UTI’s (work with your ND or healthcare practitioner to find the right probiotic for you!)
- What to look for in a Probiotic supplement:
2) Improve Stomach Acidity
Low stomach acid is one of the most common digestive issues I see in practice and the most overlooked. We need optimal amounts of stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) to kill off harmful bacteria, activate digestive enzymes and breakdown, absorb and digest food and nutrients.
When there isn’t enough stomach acid, food doesn’t get broken down fully allowing bacteria to feed and ferment it causing a lot of gas buildup and bloating. Stomach acid is also disinfecting and helps to prevent harmful bacteria from invading the rest of your GI tract. As your stomach acid levels drop down, your risk of gut infections (like E. coli, salmonella, H. pylori) goes up. Chronic low stomach acid can also lead to SIBO – Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth.
Common Symptoms of Low Stomach Acidity:
- abdominal discomfort
- heartburn, GERD + reflux
- low iron or vitamin B12 levels
- frequent gut infections
- SIBO – Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth.
If you feel like you may have low stomach acidity, check in with your ND, MD or nutritionist. Here are a few ways your practitioner may help you to improve stomach acid:
Eat slow + chew your food
- Slowing down, relaxing and chewing your food well stimulates secretion of gastric juices and get the intestines moving to properly digest your food.
Apple cider vinegar
- Raw apple cider vinegar can increase stomach acid levels because its acidic properties help lower the pH in the digestive tract.
- Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties which can help reduce the inflammation from low stomach acid.
- Ginger can be introduced in many ways: you can steep ginger into a tea and add it to foods or you can find ginger in capsulated forms.
3) Limit FODMAP Foods
If you have done any Googling to try to find out why you experience bloating, indigestion or discomfort, you may have come across the term ‘FODMAP’. What are they and should you avoid them?
‘FODMAP’ is an acronym for a group of carbohydrates that are difficult for the body to digest. Instead of being quickly broken down and absorbed like other carbohydrates, FODMAPs move through the gut undigested causing it to ferment due to bacteria in the colon feeding on it. This increases the amount of fluid and gases in the bowel.
Studies have linked FODMAPs to many digestive symptoms we associate with IBS like bloating, gassiness, diarrhea and discomfort. Some studies have shown that up to 75% of people with IBS experience a benefit from removing FODMAP’s from their diet.
10 Foods High in FODMAPS:
- Lactose-containing dairy products like milk, soft cheese and ice cream
- Sweeteners like xylitol, sorbitol and mannitol (before you say you never have these – they’re common in gums and mints and ‘no or low-sugar’ foods)
BONUS: If you’ve done it all and are still not nothing any changes – testing can help!
If you’re still experiencing digestive concerns, digestive testing like Microbiome Testing, Food Sensitivity Testing, SIBO Testing and Comprehensive Stool Analysis testing can help to understand and treat the root cause of your concerns. Reach out to a qualified ND or practitioner for support.
DIGESTION-FRIENDLY OVERNIGHT OATS
Packed with fibre, probiotic-rich foods and anti-inflammatory berries + cinnamon to start your day in a gut-healthy way.
- 1 cup Oats (quick or rolled)
- 1 cup Organic Non-Dairy Milk like coconut, almond or oat milk
- 1/2 cup Water
- 3 tbsp Coconut Yogurt
- 1 tbsp Chia Seeds
- 1 1/2 tbsp Maple Syrup
- 1/2 cup Frozen Strawberries, Blueberries or Raspberries
- 1 tbsp Hemp Seeds
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- Optional: 1/2 tsp fresh ginger or ginger powder
- Combine oats, non-dairy milk, water, coconut yogurt, chia + hemp seeds, maple syrup and cinnamon together. Mix well. Stir in frozen berries.
- Divide mixture into 2 separate glass containers and store in fridge overnight.
- Enjoy the next morning cold from the fridge or microwave for 30-60 seconds before eating.
- Refrigerate for up to three days.
Dr. Courtney Ranieri is a Naturopathic Doctor in the GTA who is passionate about helping her patients optimize their health. She has a clinical interest in nutrition, hormonal health, digestion, and fertility.
Check out www.drcourtneyranierind.com for more information.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Always check in with your health care provider before starting or making any changes to your lifestyle, diet, or medications.