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Do you have frequent bouts of bloating, diarrhea or constipation, or experience heartburn so often that you keep a bottle of antacids in your purse, desk, and vehicle? Is your gas or bloating sometimes so bad that you feel like there is a little creature inside you, fighting to get out? Does it inhibit your performance at work, causing you to not give your best because all you can do is think about the cramping going on in your abdomen? Maybe it keeps you at home, not engaged in pastimes that bring you happiness.

Although it isn’t always easy to talk about these types of issues, especially since we are taught as women not to, symptoms like these could be signs that your digestive system is distressed. What causes all of this upset? It could be a number of things, but it is likely either intolerance or pathogens.

Intolerances

One of the main causes of digestive upset is intolerances to a specific type of food. Intolerance essentially means that you’re overly sensitive to a food or food group, so eating it causes inflammation in your body, along with digestive issues that can make you feel not your best.

Intolerance isn’t as dangerous as an allergy (like Celiac disease which can cause severe digestive problems if you eat gluten), but it can be just as disruptive to your overall health and well-being. The tough part is that a lot of people have intolerances that they are unaware and they aren’t aware that we now have ways to test for intolerances.

Some of the most common food intolerances are to items such as gluten, diary and soy products. Additives and preservatives can result in intolerance as well, leaving your belly rumbling after consuming them as you search for the nearest restroom.

Outside of lab testing, a simple way to test for intolerance is to remove one of these food groups from your diet for two weeks. Then reintroduce it back in and see if you notice any difference. If not, do the same thing with another food group. This will help you discover if your diet is partly to blame for your digestive issues.

Pathogens

‘Pathogens’ is a term that encompasses things such as bacteria, parasites, and even yeast (think sugar/carb issues). What makes these troubling is that most of the conventional medications that are prescribed for them work short-term but create negative long-term consequences. How?

These types of medications block the production of stomach acid which can make you feel better in the short-term; but this can ultimately cause more problems because quite often it is not too much stomach acid but rather too little that is the root cause of the symptoms. When we have too little stomach acid we have problems digesting and absorbing nutrients from the foods we eat. We also see a slower transit time of food working its way through the digestive track as it is not broken down as quickly in the stomach. Finally we also see an increase in some bacteria and pathogens that are able to thrive in a less acidic environment. So, essentially, you’re trading out one problem for another.

That is why it is so important to find the root cause of the problem instead of just treating the symptoms. This may involve testing to see what is ailing you, but there are other things you can do in the interim that will help. And you can do them naturally.

Natural Digestive Relief

If you’re suffering with gut upset, one of the first things you should look at is your stress level. When you are under chronic stress each and every day, such as is usually the case if you have a professional, executive job that is particularly demanding or if you are caring for sick parents, your digestive system can become inflamed. By taking the time to de-stress you may notice almost instant relief.

Pay attention to your diet as well. Limit the refined carbs and sugar. Eat a lot of spicy foods or foods high in acid and you may pay for it with stomach upset and cramps. Also, practice mindful eating by consuming your meals nice and slow because we know that when we eat under stress we are less able to digest our food adequately.  The stress response (sympathetic nervous system) we experience when we are moving and eating too fast is the complete opposite of the rest and digest response (parasympathetic nervous system) we need to be able to digest, absorb and assimilate all the goodness from our meals. So, slowing down at meal times can make all the difference in how happy your gut feels.

Finally, make sure you get enough physical activity in your week as your body is not meant to be sedentary. A fit healthy body is better able to handle all of the digestive work required by our bodies. Plus, you already know that if you eat a large meal for dinner (especially late at night) and then follow it up by immediately lying on the couch or going to bed, you’re just asking for problems since you’re not giving yourself enough time to properly digest your dinner meal. Before our bodies can repair and restore, they must digest the evening meal. If it takes much of the night to do that work, then you are forfeiting the time when your body is able to rejuvenate and repair so you are in optimal health for the next day.

Does Lack of Symptoms Mean Lack of Problems?

So, does this mean that you have good digestive function if you don’t experience symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating, heartburn, or gas? Not exactly.

You can have none of these issues and still have poor digestive function. Oftentimes when we have digestive distress, the symptoms will present in other ways other than gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation etc. It could be mood issues. Or inflammation maybe demonstrated by skin outbreaks. Just because you don’t feel digestive upset doesn’t mean your unwanted health symptoms are not a result of digestive issues. Working with a functional health practitioner can help you play detective and really figure out the root cause of those symptoms and get you on the road to optimal health and happiness.

Good Digestion Means Good Health

When your digestive tract is functioning efficiently and effectively, you are able to absorb the highest amount of nutrients in your food, which means that you won’t risk deficiencies that could rob you of your health and wellness. Further, you’ll spend less time in the bathroom and more time enjoying life with the people that you love, doing activities that make you happy.

You don’t have to spend your days dealing with stomachaches, cramps, and constantly worrying about whether you’ll feel “gassy at the most inopportune time, like in the middle of an important business meeting or while walking down the hall with your boss. Even if you’ve always thought that this was a normal part of life, now you know differently so you can do something about it.

Take care of your body and it will take care of you. You can’t get a replacement one, so let’s the one you have work for you! Come visit us in the FREE Nourished Queen facebook group for more information on DIY tips or join us for the Gut Health & Repair program and put your digestive symptoms behind you forever!

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