For your body to perform at its best, you must eat the right types of foods and you must be able to properly digest and absorb those foods.
We've discussed in depth choosing the right types of foods, but now we want to discuss how to keep your gut healthy enough to fully utilize the nutrients from these foods.
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Your digestive system contains billions of healthy bacteria that aid in proper digestion and keep bad bacteria under control.
Without enough healthy bacteria, food in the colon does not get broken down during the final stage of digestion, so fewer nutrients from that food are absorbed. In addition, these healthy bacteria eat up toxins in the body that can disrupt our normal processes. If these toxins don't get broken down, the body becomes overly toxic, which can cause stress and disease.
You may be unknowingly compromising your intestinal health with many common daily habits. We will specifically focus on three of them.
Taking prescribed antibiotics for bacterial infections will kill both bad and good bacteria. This means that you may feel better after taking the antibiotics, but a side effect is that it will impair gut function by also killing the good bacteria that aid digestion.
This could inadvertently lead to the next problem -- frequently taking over-the-counter medications for digestive issues. Stomach acid blockers and similar drugs taken because of indigestion or upset stomachs are merely trying to cover up negative side effects from improper digestion rather than treating the underlying problem.
Part of the problem could simply be not having enough good bacteria in the gut due to the overconsumption of antibiotics. Repeated use of these OTC drugs can kill good bacteria as well.
And finally, most people don't realize that most nonorganic meats contain antibiotics because that animal was more than likely treated with antibiotics at some point to keep it healthy. When we consume the meat from these animals, we are also getting a dose of these antibiotics.
So in addition to avoiding habits that can harm healthy bacteria, there is also a way to build it back up to healthy levels.
Consumption of more soluble and insoluble fiber from fruits and vegetables is one of the simplest ways to promote healthy bacteria growth in the digestive tract.
Supplementing with a probiotic supplement is also a great way to reintroduce healthy bacteria back into the gut. A good probiotic contains billions of live organisms such as Lactobacillius acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis.
Take a serving before breakfast in the morning on an empty stomach with 8 ounces of water. A full recovery of gut flora could take 30 to 60 days of daily supplementation, and then the probiotics can simply be taken daily or every other day to counter the effect of bacteria-killing substances in our environment. Check out the research of Dr. Klem Shahani for more information on probiotics.
So make the most of the food you're eating by keeping your stomach functioning at its best. For more exercise and nutrition tips, check out our blog at PushFitnessTraining.com.
• Joshua Steckler and Mark Trapp are co-owners of Push Fitness, a personal training studio in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning and nutrition. Contact them at PushFitnessTraining.com.