Improve Your Digestion To Boost Your Mood, Metabolism, and Even Reduce Cellulite

Are you suffering from heartburn or headaches? Just can’t get out of bed in the morning? Do you look as though you are never rested no matter how much sleep you get, or feel as bloated as the Pillsbury Doughboy because of relentless water retention? All of these symptoms can be caused by the foods you are eating.

Many of us tend to consume the same foods day after day with little variety. This may lead to our bodies becoming “sensitized” to the foods (food sensitivities are also sometimes called food allergies, although they may not be true allergies like those that may induce an anaphylactic reaction). This may result in a myriad of symptoms that are surprisingly not always digestive in nature. The trouble is we tend to go on, gradually feeling worse and worse, chronically fatigued or under-functioning. Usually it is difficult to realize how badly you are feeling until the offending foods are removed and you begin to notice improvements in subtle ways such as improvements in energy levels, moods, concentration and focus, joint pain, headaches or sinus congestion. This is why removal of the most commonly allergenic food groups is the essential first step in every one of my patient’s personalized wellness plan.

Through this process of removing certain foods from your diet will you realize that your digestive tract isn’t just about the process of digestion. There are less commonly recognized processes linked to your gastrointestinal tract and, ultimately, your foundation of health. These include:

Immunity. Approximately 60% of your immune system is clustered around your digestive tract. This makes sense because if you eat something rotten, your immune system is close by to protect you. However, because of the close association of the two, if your digestive tract is not healthy or the integrity of the gut wall is poor, your immune system may become compromised. Over time, many individuals experiencing digestive complaints tend to develop signs of weakened immunity such as allergies or frequent colds and the flu. In the same line of thinking, consuming certain foods may aggravate your allergy symptoms.

Mood. Our digestive system affects serotonin levels, which influences mood, memory, concentration and even food cravings and sleep patterns. Ever wonder why you tend to crave sweet foods or carbohydrates if you are down? Physiologically, it is not surprising, as two-thirds of the serotonin — your “happy hormone,” governing mood, anxiety, sleep and food cravings — actually are produced from cells around your digestive tract and not your brain. This may be the theory behind some of the new medications used to treat irritable bowel syndrome, many of which affect serotonin levels. People who are experiencing anxiety, depression or sleep irregularities may benefit from the removal of certain foods causing allergies as they may be affecting serotonin levels involved in these conditions.

Detoxification and nutrient absorption. If your bowels are not moving, waste will create toxicity and impede health, especially estrogen by-products since estrogen is metabolized in the liver and excreted into the digestive system in the bile. The bacteria in the large bowel further the breakdown of estrogen. Liver function, bile secretion, bacterial balance and frequency of bowel movements are essential processes for ridding the body of excess estrogen which has been known to can increase cancer risks and toxic weight gain in both men and women. A bowel movement after each meal is perfect bowel function. Cleansing your digestive system will clear your complexion and improve your energy levels as you gain a sense of well-being. Improving intestinal wall competency will also aid absorption of nutrients and water, while preventing absorption of unhealthy bacteria and incompletely digested food or toxins.

Vitamin B12 levels. If the digestive system is compromised, or the small intestine is inflamed, mal-absorption of vitamin B12 can easily occur. Vitamin B12 is important for healthy red blood cell production, mood, health of the nervous system, carbohydrate metabolism and fertility. On blood tests, your B12 should measure 600 or above to be considered optimal. The stomach cells produce intrinsic factor, a compound necessary for the absorption of vitamin B12. If the stomach does not produce sufficient intrinsic factor, or if stomach acid levels are low, a deficiency of vitamin B12 may occur. Due to these factors involved in B12 absorption, it is often best to take supplements by injection or in forms that are absorbed under the tongue if your levels need to be topped up. Beyond its involvement in metabolism, vitamin B12 is also essential for establishing healthy sleep patterns. Healthy sleep patterns are important for optimizing hormonal balance for fat loss.

Cellulite, inflammation and future risk of disease. The immune response to food proteins may indirectly contribute to increased amounts of cellulite. Delayed pattern food allergy may occur within blood vessels causing inflammation in the vessel walls and subsequently triggering clotting mechanisms. The increase in inflammation in the arteries and capillaries may contribute to poor circulation, a known cause of cellulite, as well as reduced lymphatic drainage.

Heart disease. Slightly more concerning is the possible link of food allergies with heart disease and stroke through this same inflammatory mechanism. Studies involving the measurement of highly sensitive C-reactive protein in the blood have found that this inflammatory marker is associated with increased risk of heart attack and stroke. This clearly supports the strong connection between inflammation and cardiovascular disease. Hence, the removal of all factors which contribute to inflammation is beneficial including the consumption of unhealthy fats such as trans-fatty acids and saturated fats (in dairy products and red meats).

Continue reading to find out how to optimize your digestive system:

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    • Helen

      Thank you for the very informative article. I just recovered from a surprise allergic reaction to wheat. To make things worse I was also taking Yerba Mate tablets which maybe contributed to an unexpected spike in my blood pressure because of the caffeine in it. I got huge hives all over and I unreluctantly went to the doctor because I thought changing to all wheat products slowly was supposed to be healthy. The Yerba Mate pills were helping my metabolism increase and I gained more energy. I must develop another plan for myself. Thank you again!!!!

      • Ruth Ellen Lenher

        Is there a way to find out from any medical tests what foods we could be allergic? How can someone eliminate foods from their diet to find out for themselves when they are living with others who help support them with their grocery bill if you are only on $1,000 a month and have to live with others?
        How much does a person normally have to eat in a day? I think that will help us get a better grip on the situation of health.
        Thankyou.
        Ruth Lenher

    • christy

      I second the statement in this article about food allergies and digestion issues. I was having stomach issues and migraines; I thought it was irritable bowel syndrome- I had no idea they were being caused by peanut, soy, fish, and shellfish allergies until I got an allergy test and started a series of elimination diets.

    • Twisted Witch

      Interesting that this article makes practically identical food reccomendations that are involved in the paleo diet… Of couurse full paleo involves no grain intake and as far as I know approves of citrus.. However, Im a lover of quinoa and its versatility so when I embarked on the paleo diet a few months ago, I allowed it.. but only once or twice a month. I have to say that after a couple of weeks for detoxification of my system, I began to loose weight rapidly and I feel sooo much better!! Thanks for giving me justification for a diet that some veiw as questionable..

    • Greg

      Remove Foods- Dairy
      Include Foods- Butter

      ummmmm

      • Mia

        LOL!

    • Kris

      Good catch Greg. Ummmm, exactly. Eat butter, but please don’t eat any dairified yogurt (with healthy acidophilus) because as we all *know* taking supplements is SO MUCH BETTER than getting it from food. Please visit http://www.fda.gov to educate yourself.

      “Other than the manufacturer’s responsibility to ensure safety, there are no rules that limit a serving size or the amount of a nutrient in any form of dietary supplements. This decision is made by the manufacturer and does not require FDA review or approval.”

      and

      “The agency does not analyze dietary supplements before they are sold to consumers. The manufacturer is responsible for ensuring that the “Supplement Facts” label and ingredient list are accurate, that the dietary ingredients are safe, and that the content matches the amount declared on the label. FDA does not have resources to analyze dietary supplements sent to the agency by consumers who want to know their content. Instead, consumers may contact the manufacturer or a commercial laboratory for an analysis of the content.”

      Upshot, they can’t intentionally kill us but they certainly do not have to make sure that their capsules have the amount stated on their label. Some watch groups have found capsules from dietary supplements that have NONE of the stated ingredients. So buyers beware! And maybe think about switching one serving of butter with a serving of yogurt.

    • Justin S

      You’re a doctor? Of medicine? Your list of “allergenic foods” only has tangential overlap to medical lists of common allergies. You then go on to recommend things that ARE on the list. Way to continue the trend of “experts” writing poor information that will go on to confuse the general public.

    • linda dubose

      Yes, there are test you can take to determine if you have allergies to food and other things such as grass, trees, etc. Check with your doctor and they can recommend a specialist who does the testing. I was tested and so was my daughter. I can not eat shell fish deadly if I ever eat it again. I carry an injection with me at all times just in case I eat it without my knowledge. My daughter has an allergery to trees.

    • WhitneyPoohPooh

      Ms. Lenher, Yes, there are allergy tests for food allergies. An allergy doctor can help you with that if you have insurance; otherwise, it may be expensive. You can do an informal testing for food sensitivities just by eliminating a food family (i.e. nightshades: tomato, white potato, eggplant) for a few weeks and then bring them back into your diet one at a time and see how they affect you, how you feel. There are many sources online and at the public library to help you find out which foods most often trigger sensitivities. An interesting book you may want to get at the library is Eat Right for Your Type. It has some interesting ideas in it. You will have to do your own research to find out how to eat the best foods for you on a limited budget. Try cooking a whole turkey, cut it up, and freeze the individual part to eat over a few weeks (label them as yours). Sharing a fridge with others can be difficult (been there, done that). Wrap and label your food; or, if you are able, grocery shop nearly every day for just what you will eat that day. That is a lot of extra work though, not always feasible. Research is showing us that we can thrive on a lot less food than we think, but you want to be sure you get all of the nutrients you need for good health. That is where you will just have to do your own research. Best of luck to you.

    • nitzjordan

      great info. esp to those who of us want to live life a little longer.Try it.

    • frustratednana

      I have problems with my colon, I don’t go to the bathroom (bowel movement) but once every couple of weeks. My Dr. put me on a strange diet it is called “Acid Ash Diet /without fruit” I can hardly eat anything. He says I have colitis possibly Chrons Disease, I feel like I am starving all the time. No fiber or fruit, has anyone ever heard of this?

      • summer

        @frstratednana
        I have Chrons Disease and Celiac so my diet is restricted because of the wheat allergy. I am also allergic to some seeds so have to stay away from regular sources of fibre.
        When my Crohns is in a flare up I tend to avoid salads, fruits and veggies. As these irritate my colon and create very loose bowel movements and anything from 8 – 10 times a day.
        When the Crohns is not in flare up I can eat pretty much anything in moderation including fruit, salads and veggies.
        Foods I find best to have when in flare up are potatoes (backed, mashed), rice, chicken, fish (I find red meat very difficult to digest if my stomach is unhappy). I eat bananas often, even when in flare up. Corn pasta is great with a bit of melted cheese. Unfortunatley when I am in a flare up my diet is restricted and I do need to be more careful but when the it calms down I can eat most foods. Generally I stay away from spicy, oily and rich foods. Clean simple cooking, grilled, baked, not much oil or butter and I don’t eat fast foods.
        I have not heard of the “Acid Ash Diet” and I have never been told not to eat fruit (I have been told to have in moderation and not to eat the skin on fruit). I find smoothies and soups great as well during flare ups cause they are easier to digest. A colonoscopy will determine what you have and I would suggest you request that one be done. I also find that having a doctor that specializes in this goes along way as it is not an easy thing to manage or understand.
        Hope this helps, good luck!