Are you one of the many people interested in improving your digestive health but not quite sure where to start? Do you understand the importance of a healthy gut and how it impacts your overall health? Today we’re taking a deep dive into just that!
In today’s post, we will be exploring the benefits of better digestive health and offer expert advice from the wise and incredible Tess Masters. From defining gut health to practical tips, we’re covering it all.
Don’t miss out on the answers to your burning questions, and start prioritizing your gut health today.
Meet Tess Masters!
Before we get started on how to improve digestive health, let’s first take a look at who Tess Masters is.
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Tess has spent years as an actor, presenter, and speaker before becoming a bestselling author of:
Tess has an incredible passion for helping people make better food choices that support a healthy lifestyle, and her experience makes her the perfect person to speak on digestive health.
How does the digestive system work?
Before we dive into how to improve gut health, let’s take a step back and start by understanding the basics of how your digestive system works.
Your gut is responsible for breaking down the food you eat and extracting nutrients from it. The process starts in your mouth with chewing and saliva breaking down the food into smaller pieces that can be digested further.
Your stomach will then break down the food even more before sending it to your small intestine for nutrient absorption. Finally, the waste products are sent to the large intestine and eventually excreted from the body.
In total, there are 7 steps in the digestive system:
- Lower esophageal sphincter
- Small intestine
- Large intestine
It’s important to keep your digestive system in working order so that you can properly absorb the nutrients from the food you eat.
Our gut is our second brain
We learn from Tess that we also have a messaging system in our body.
“There’s an enteric nervous system, which is part of the peripheral system, and it’s basically your gut sending messages to your brain and the rest of your body.
And then those messages inform and help modulate:
- Endocrine function
- Hormone function
- Food cravings
So if that messaging system isn’t working properly and there’s sort of all these little kinks in the system, then everything sort of starts to not work as well as it should work.
That’s why we wanna be eating quality foods that support better gut health, better digestion, and better body function!’
How do I know if I have an unhealthy gut?
Tess shares, “There’s a war raging inside of our bodies all day, every day, right? And we’ve got millions of different microorganisms, billions, and we’ve got some that are beneficial and some that are hostile.
So everything that we do in life pushes the bacterial balance off its axis. For instance:
- Environmental pollutants
- Prescription (and non-prescription) drugs
- Sugary products
- Processed foods
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Lack of exercise
All of these different things can cause an imbalance of the bacteria in our gut, which can lead to a whole host of health problems.”
Signs your digestive health is out of balance
It might seem normal (to you) to experience some of these signs, but they could be indicative of an unhealthy gut.
Here are a few signs that you should look out for:
- Abdominal pain
- Bloating and gas
- Feeling full quickly after eating
- Heartburn or reflux
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Bowel incontinence
- Skin problems (like rashes and acne)
- Unintentional weight gain or loss
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Bad breath
You may also have some more severe symptoms, like diverticulitis or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
All of these different symptoms can be signs that you’ve got dysbiosis.
What is dysbiosis?
Dysbiosis is a term used to describe an imbalance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in the gut.
You can heal your gut and get it back to tip-top shape
We are not sharing this to scare you but to remind you that there are ways to improve your gut health and heal yourself.
As you start taking note of your symptoms and have conversations with your doctor/practitioner, you’ll start to realize, “Oh, every time I do this, this is what happens.” But, once you start to fuel your body efficiently for your needs, everything just starts to fall into place.
Tess tells us, “So, what we see is when people clean up their gut health and digestion, all these other markers of better health start to improve. Things like:
- Lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol
- Regulating your hormone function
- Lowering and regulating your blood sugar levels
- Sleeping through the night
- Waking up with energy
- Having mental clarity
- Glowing skin
These are all the benefits that come with improving your gut health.
So, it’s really important to pay attention to what you’re doing in your daily life and how it affects your overall well-being.”
Tips on how to improve gut health and keep your digestive system healthy
Now that you know the basics of how your digestive system works and have a better understanding of dysbiosis, let’s talk about ways to improve your digestive health.
1) Chew your food properly
Did you know that many of us tend to eat while multitasking? Unfortunately, this habit affects our digestive system’s ability to function properly. To ensure optimal digestion, it’s important to savor our food and eat slowly.
Why? Because the first phase of digestion occurs in the mouth, where enzymes in the saliva begin to break down our food. To properly digest and absorb nutrients, we should thoroughly chew our food until it turns into a liquid consistency.
So next time you eat, take your time and enjoy each bite to help your body properly process the food!
2) Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated is essential for our overall health and well-being. However, many of us are chronically dehydrated, which can lead to feelings of fatigue and dryness. It’s crucial to stay hydrated in multiple ways, including drinking water and water-based beverages.
But, it’s important to note that the human body can only absorb a limited amount of water per hour.
So, it’s best to hydrate regularly throughout the day instead of chugging water at the end of the day. If you wait until you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated, and your body will excrete most of the water you consume.
Keep up with your hydration to maintain your body’s natural balance!
3) Fill up on non-starchy vegetables
Besides drinking water to stay hydrated and maintain our digestive health, we can achieve it through consuming high water-content fruits and vegetables.
Non-starchy vegetables are a great option as they are:
- Efficient carbohydrates
- Low in carbs
- Contain essential nutrients
- Have high water content
Ideally, we should eat them raw or in a semi-cooked state, as cooking plant foods removes the water and destroys the enzymes that aid digestion. A cucumber, some celery, or avocado with lunch and dinner, or a low-carb smoothie in the morning can do wonders for our body’s hydration.
Incorporating some raw plant foods into our daily meals can go a long way in keeping us healthy and fit.
4) Consume probiotic-rich foods
To support your gut health, try incorporating some probiotic-rich foods into your diet. Opt for truly fermented options like sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles found in the refrigerated section of mainstream grocery stores.
BUT avoid versions with vinegar or sugar. If you’re not a fan of those, consider trying fermented kefir made from coconut milk or plant milk.
To further nourish the good bacteria in your gut, focus on non-starchy vegetables like asparagus and leafy greens. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower are also great choices!
These veggies contain key compounds that promote healthy gut bacteria and overall wellness. By choosing these foods, you’re building up your gut army for long-term health.
5) Take a digestive enzyme supplement
Let’s talk about something that’s often overlooked—our body’s enzymes!
For better digestion, we need more enzyme activity, which can be found in raw plant foods and the enzymes produced by our bodies naturally. Unfortunately, as we age, particularly post-menopause, our enzyme production decreases.
That’s where digestive enzyme supplements may come in handy.
While a food-first approach is best, supplements can be helpful, but it’s important to discuss their suitability with your practitioner. Take care of your digestion to feel your best!
6) Add movement to your daily routine
One key aspect of maintaining good digestion is movement. Just like how all the systems in our body communicate with each other, our digestive tract is one long muscle that requires exercise in order to function properly.
This is where the process of peristalsis comes in, which pushes everything along the digestive tract. However, in order for peristalsis to occur, we need to be upright and active. So it’s important to avoid eating late at night and before bed, as lying down can hinder the digestive process.
7) Steer clear of sugar and processed foods
It’s no secret that sugar is detrimental to our health. In particular, it can damage the beneficial bacteria in our gut and weaken its ability to protect us from disease.
To keep our gut healthy, it’s best to avoid processed and refined sugar as much as possible. We can also opt for natural sweeteners or low-carb sugar substitutions.
When shopping for groceries, Tess recommends making sure to check the labels on the food products you buy. Avoid anything that has too much added sugar and opt for whole foods whenever possible.
Nowadays, Tess Masters is helping others to improve their digestive health through her books and online programs. She’s had over 30,000 people go through her Decadent Detox and Skinny60 health programs, and many have really changed their lives around with her help.
So, we asked Tess some questions, and here’s what she had to say!
How can we advocate for ourselves with doctors and health practitioners?
“It’s important to be an advocate for yourself and your wellness journey. Ask questions, do research, and provide the most updated information to them. See if you can work together with them in order to achieve common goals.
If you’re considering getting some tests, don’t forget to ask your doctor to test your gut health too. A comprehensive blood panel can reveal a lot about your overall health, and it’s rare for an issue to manifest in just one isolated test result.
By checking multiple markers in your blood, you can identify potential issues with elevated pressure and cholesterol, enzymes, triglycerides, iron levels, and nutrient deficiencies. Your gut health and digestion play a crucial role in your overall health, so it’s important to be proactive about testing.
If your doctor is resistant to ordering these tests, don’t hesitate to advocate for yourself and find a practitioner who will take a comprehensive approach to your health. By collaborating with your doctor and taking a more proactive approach to your healthcare, you can identify potential issues early on and take steps to improve your well-being!”
Should we be avoiding protein and only focusing on non-starchy vegetables?
“We wanna be balancing, you know, and taking in the appropriate amount of protein, whether you are eating vegan, vegetarian, or you are a meat eater.
I like the 80-20 rule that 80% of our plates should be non-starchy vegetables, so low-carb things, and then we supplement that with quality fats and quality protein.”
It’s clear that better digestive health leads to a better life. By taking the time to understand how our digestion works, we can make small changes in our lifestyle and diet that have big impacts on our overall well-being.
From understanding which foods are beneficial for gut health to adding movement into your daily routine and avoiding processed sugars, follow these tips on how to stay healthy through every step of the journey. You can be sure that you’re taking care of yourself both inside and out!
So if you want a healthier body and mind, start by looking after your digestive system today – it’ll be worth it in the long run! You can do so by joining our Healthy Belly Challenge next week, on July 3rd. It will be an amazing experience you won’t want to miss.
Don’t miss this opportunity to motivate yourself and change your life like never before!
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