Stomach inflammation is one of the top causes of belly fat and the inability to lose those last few pounds around the midsection. To reduce this type of weight, it is important to understand the root cause of the inflammation. There are certain foods that help to reduce intestinal inflammation. Most researchers believe that intestinal inflammation is the root cause of a variety of chronic health conditions including inflammatory bowel diseases, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), leaky gut, among other non-GI related ailments. Managing your diet to elicit a healthy gut is the first step in healing intestinal inflammation.
Intestinal Inflammation and Malnutrition
Most of the nutrients that we consume through food are absorbed in the intestines. Inflammation in the intestines reduces the ability to properly digest foods and absorb nutrients. The decrease in nutrients leads to a slowed metabolism and further increase in inflammation. The inflammatory processes are ignited throughout the body and spread like wildfire causing a blockage to other biochemical pathways as well. For example, it may result in brittle nails and hair since the vital minerals and vitamins are not being properly absorbed. This can lead to more severe malnutrition throughout the body.
Weight fluctuations are very common with intestinal inflammation. Many people experience a loss of appetite or a sense of never feeling satiated leading to over-eating. Often, this type of inflammation causes flare ups, and it Is important to learn what to eat to mitigate a flare.
What Should You Eat During a Flare Up?
Most often, there are specific foods that cause a flare within the intestinal wall, and these are unique to each individual. Figuring out these specific foods can be challenging, and it might be necessary to work with an integrative nutritionist to determine your specific food list. Food challenges and food sensitivity testing can uncover your specific food list. However, there are some general dietary tips that will help reduce inflammation during an intestinal flare. The general recommendations are to choose foods that reduce gas, ease abdominal pain and balance gut motility including:
- Healthy Fats and Oils – Omega 3 fatty acids like those found in fatty fish, walnuts, and olive oil help to neutralize inflammation and promote healing. Experts recommend eating fatty fish like mackerel and salmon twice weekly. Conversely, fats in the solid state are difficult to digest and patients often experience increased intestinal inflammation after eating a fatty, fried meal. Saturated fats like those found in animal products (red meat and dairy products), trans fats found in fried food and baked goods, omega 6 fatty acids found in sunflower, soybean, and corn oil have been shown to cause inflammation. These types of foods should be avoided.
- Fiber – Fiber helps protect against constipation often experienced during an inflammation flare up. Fiber rich foods include whole foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans, and whole grains. Cooking vegetables helps aid in their digestion. Roasting vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, squashes, sweet potatoes, and carrots are an easy way to incorporate these nutrient dense foods into the diet. Soft fruits like melons, avocados, and berries are easy to digest and provide you with the fiber your body needs. Just be cautious in consuming too much fiber because in certain microbiome imbalances it can also worsen your abdominal cramping and gas. It is advisable to work with your functional health practitioner to determine the exact amount of fiber your body needs to function properly.
- Fluids – Hydration is especially important to help with gut motility. If bowels are too loose one can become easily dehydrated. On the other hand, not enough water in the diet can cause constipation. Drinking at least half your bodyweight in ounces of water daily is recommended. Water is the most preferable source of hydration, but low sugar electrolyte drinks, no added sugar fruit juices and herbal, non-caffeinated teas are also good choices. Experts recommend drinking at least 15.5 cups of fluids if you are a man and 11.5 cups of fluids if you are a woman.
- Probiotic Rich Foods – Probiotics enhance your health by increasing the number of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. The bacteria in your body are unique to you. The foods you eat, the medications you take, the experiences you have, and the environment you live in can all affect the makeup of your bacteria. The bacteria in your digestive tract affect your digestive health. When the bacteria are balanced, digestion will be optimized, and inflammation will be minimized. Conversely, when the bad bacteria outnumber the good bacteria, your digestion will be compromised, and you will have increased inflammation.
A probiotic supplement helps to restore the beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. There are also probiotic rich foods like kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, and yogurt. Including these fermented foods in your diet can help reduce inflammation and improve digestion.
- Protein – When you are experiencing intestinal inflammation the need for protein increases exponentially. The body uses protein to fuel your body and carry oxygen. Protein also helps keep your cells healthy, helps create new cells, and make antibodies to fight off illnesses and infections. Be sure to choose tender meats that have been well cooked like poultry, fish, pork, and lean beef. Eggs, organic soy products, nuts and seeds are also healthy protein options.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans state that the amount of protein needed varies based on age and sex. Between 10 and 35 percent of your calories should come from protein. Protein amounts are also dependent on exercise and muscle building goals.
Ready To Seek Help For Intestinal Inflammation?
If you are experiencing digestive disturbances, nutritional deficiencies, and poor digestion, and are wondering how to reduce inflammation, our digestive specialis can help guide you back to optimal health. Contact us today and learn how to decrease your inflammation and discomfort naturally. The foods that you eat may not completely resolve your symptoms; however, they can help ease your discomfort and minimize the symptoms of intestinal inflammation. It may also be beneficial to examine your food sensitivities to determine what foods result in inflammation and an intestinal flare up.