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  • Writer's pictureKayla Sturm, PharmD

5 Tips to Reset Your Digestive System

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Did you know that up to 95% of your body's supply of serotonin is made in your gut by intestinal bacteria? (APA, 2012). As you may be aware, serotonin plays an important role in managing depression symptoms. So gut health is important to your mental health. Not only is gut health important for mental health, but your overall wellness. If you're struggling with stomach issues such as constipation, nausea, diarrhea, bloating, belching, vomiting, etc. maybe it's time to reset your digestive system. Here are 5 tips to reset your digestive system.


1. Lifestyle Changes

I can't stress this enough...get up and get moving. Movement is essential to helping your gut to be healthy and happy. It improves your digestion, helps you to burn those calories off, and helps any gas and discomfort work its' way along your digestive tract. If you aren't very active, set a goal of walking 5 minutes after lunch and/or dinner each day for 5 days. The next week, increase your time to 10 minutes. The week after that, make it 15 minutes. Keep increasing by 5 minutes each week until you reach 30 minutes of walking a day. Just think how much better your stomach will feel and plus you will feel with implementing this simple goal. Your primary care provider will most definitely be impressed with you at your next appointment if you tell them you're walking 30 minutes a day.

2. Medication Issues

There are some medications that can impact the beneficial bacteria in your gut with daily use. Those medications include antacids, NSAIDS (e.g. ibuprofen, naproxen, celecoxib), antibiotics, corticosteroids, and oral contraceptives. If you are taking any of these medications, you may want to discuss if there are alternatives to these medications to help your medical conditions with your prescriber or pharmacist. (CAUTION: Do not stop any medications without speaking to your prescriber or pharmacist first.) However, if the medication can not be changed and/or it's effectively treating your condition, you may want to consider a probiotic supplement.


3. Prebiotics and Probiotics

In my practice as a pharmacist, this is a common question that comes about with patients. What is the difference between a prebiotic and a probiotic? Do I need both? Prebiotics are dietary fibers that feed the naturally occurring gut bacteria in your digestive system. Probiotics are live bacteria that are beneficial to our system and are found in foods and supplements. Essentially, you do need both in your diet as the prebiotics are what feed the probiotics. Your pharmacist or doctor can suggest what would work best for your body. Below are foods that contain prebiotics and probiotics.


Prebiotics

Whole Grains

Apples

Leeks

Onions

Garlic

Bananas (green)

Asparagus

Honey

Artichoke

Nuts

Seeds

Beans

Root Vegetables

Lentils

Chickpeas

Potato Starch

Probiotics

Sauerkraut

Yogurt

Kefir

Miso Soup

Pickles

Kimchi

Tempeh

Chocolate

4. Diet Considerations

When trying to heal your gut, you may want to consider an elimination diet. Foods that account for up to 90% of digestive issues include: gluten/wheat, dairy, eggs, peanuts, soy, fish, shellfish, corn, refined sugar, alcohol, and processed/packaged foods.


If you have conditions such as Crohn's Disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, Celiac's Disease, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), or chronic diarrhea, then the Specific Carbohydrate Diet may be something to consider. This diet focuses on consuming monosaccharide carbohydrates (simple sugars like glucose, fructose, and galactose) and avoids complex carbohydrates (for example, found in peas, beans, whole grains, canned vegetables). The diet includes foods like meat, fish, vegetables, nuts, low-sugar fruits, and eggs.



5. Reduce Your Stress

Stress can trigger and/or worsen digestive issues. When we are in "fight or flight" mode while stressed, the sympathetic system ("fight") and the parasympathetic ("flight") are interacting with not only one another but also with the enteric nervous system which happens to control digestion. When we become stressed, our body will slow digestion so it can divert its' energy to handling the "threat" aka your stress. When are experiencing lower levels of stress, we may experience functional digestive issues like abdominal pain. Even anxiety or depression may be tied to our digestive tract health. 90% of the body's serotonin is made in our digestive tract.


How can you manage your stress?

  • Don't over commit

  • Learn to set boundaries and say no

  • Meditate: YouTube has so many videos

  • Pray

  • Breathing Exercises

  • Explore Nature

  • Exercise

  • Yoga

  • Get enough sleep

  • Take mini-breaks throughout the day to balance stress

  • Be social with your family and friends

Always speak to your doctor or pharmacist before starting an exercise program, changing diets, or starting medications/supplements. You can always reach out to Ally Pharmacy and our pharmacists will be happy to help.


Download Our Better Health Guide to Essential Vitamins and Minerals

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LEGAL DISCLAIMERS: These products are not evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.

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