You’re working out, watching what you eat and the scale won’t budge. You’re feeling vaguely unwell, tired, and stuck in a rut despite your efforts. So you think to yourself, what the heck is the problem? Chances are, it’s your inflamed gut talking, telling you you’re feeding it wrong. In fact, what you’re feeding it may be a lot more important than how much.
The trouble starts with the food itself. Though you’re probably not aware of it, every day over 70% of us are eating foods that our bodies can’t easily tolerate. These food intolerances or sensitivities, while blessedly not severe enough to send most people into anaphylactic shock, nonetheless are enough to send the immune system into attack mode to protect the body from the allergens and irritants it perceives as invaders. This virtually non-stop attack mode creates inflammation and raises insulin levels, which in turn sets the table for weight gain. All that fighting can also make you feel sick and tired – all that defensive action is exhausting.
So, how to bust out of the fat-and-sick cycle? Try these gut-loving, health-building steps – and marvel as your weight and your energy levels start to move swiftly in the right direction:
Get Your Gut in Order
Feeling sick and fat just stinks – but I can virtually guarantee you’ll stay that way until you commit to getting your gut in order. I believe that a compromised gut, one that has an imbalance of good and bad bacteria and one that’s struggling to cope with a non-stop assault of food irritants, is a belly under siege and one that’s a virtual fat sponge. To start peeling off the pounds and start feeling well again, you’re going to need to make some changes (outlined below) to reduce inflammation, cleanse your gut and rebuild your health.
Send in the Bacterial Cavalry
Drones notwithstanding, it’s tough to fight a battle without troops on the ground or in this case, your belly, so re-populating the gut with good bacteria is essential to restoring it. By re-installing good gut bacteria you’ll combat the overgrowth of bad bacteria, get digestion and proper distribution of nutrients on track and rebalance your belly’s delicate eco-system. The easiest way to do this is with probiotics. When buying probiotics, look for one that delivers the highest number of live organisms to the intestinal tract, and by that I mean at least 10-40 billion per capsule or teaspoon of powder. It should also contain a combination of different strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. The Be Well Probiotics powder contains the 5 most viable and stable strains you’ll need. To start restoring your gut and to maintain your gains, take the probiotics as directed, once or twice a day, preferably with meals. Keep in mind though, probiotics are part of the solution, not the whole shabang, so add them to your arsenal and read on.
Tend Your Garden With Greens
Not to sound like your mother but, eat your greens and plenty of them. The chlorophyll in fresh, preferably organic greens will help heal your gut, while the green-tastic nutrients and fiber will facilitate better belly function. In other words, the greens will help relieve constipation, clear out the cobwebs and get things moving again – all of which is essential to building a clean, healthy gut. Another fabulous side effect of all those good greens? Over time, less weight around the middle and smaller numbers on the scale. Score!
Know the Enemy
And the enemy is…….food sensitivities. It’s the daily ingestion, often multiple times a day, of high-sensitivity, inflammation-triggering foods that are making millions of folks fat and sick. What’s so insidious about inflammation-triggering foods is that they’re staple items, the seemingly innocuous foods you eat every day – and they’re creating full-body havoc, without you even realizing it. Topping the food-sensitivity lists:
- Foods containing Gluten
- Dairy products, particularly from factory-farmed cows.
- Foods made with GMO-heavy crops such as soy, corn and sugar beets.
- Processed foods, which includes just about anything that’s in a wrapper, bag, carton or can
- Although gluten and dairy are by far the commonest foods that trigger sensitivities, other troublemakers include, eggs (particularly egg white), peanuts, veggies from the “nightshade” family, such as eggplant, tomatoes, white potatoes, and peppers; chocolate, strawberries, some citrus fruits and yeast
Treat Yourself to an Elimination Diet
OK, so you’re boosting your gut health with probiotics, eating your greens and avoiding foods that may be triggering inflammation. What’s next? Take it up a notch with an elimination diet. For those struggling with food sensitivity-related weight issues, or just feel sick and tired for no obvious reason, I’m a huge proponent of eliminating all the food-intolerance troublemakers from your diet for at least two weeks. For most people this will give the body enough time to clear out the irritants and tame the inflammation they’ve caused. For my detailed list of low-sensitivity foods to eat and the trouble-makers to avoid, click here.
Step It Up a Notch
Many of my patients find that the easiest, most convenient way to do an elimination diet is to do it as part of my Be Well Cleanse. It’s my two-week program, which removes all the common food allergens, kills the bad bacteria in the gut and supports the body’s detoxification systems at the same time. The key component of the Be Well Cleanse and why it is more effective than just doing an Elimination Diet, is that it helps balance the gut flora by killing the bad guys. It is this imbalance which I believe often causes food intolerances. The other great advantage of the Be Well Cleanse is convenience and simplicity, so it’s wonderful for busy people or those who want to minimize the guesswork on their gut-healing, weight-loss journey. After the two weeks, patients gradually re-introduce foods (one at a time, over time), to help patients identify the foods that trigger reactions and which don’t. To keep feeling great after the Cleanse and find out more about the maintenance phase, click here.
Don’t Forget Your Head
Being fat, sick and tired is your body’s way of speaking to you. Listen to it – and do all you can to make it vibrant and well. In addition to eating foods that your body tolerates well, remember to bring your mind into the process as well. Extend your healthy gains beyond your gut by adding some meditation, biofeedback or deep breathing to the mix. A stressed mind will undermine some of your gut gains, but a calm one will enhance them, so give your gut all the support you can. Think of it as one more tool in your healthy weight-loss tool box.
Finally, most people will get better with these tips, but if none of the above helps, I then recommend getting an IGg food allergen blood test. Here are two resources, ImmunoLabs and Alcat tests. These tests need to be interpreted in the context of your general health and what you have been eating regularly in the weeks before the test, but can be helpful in picking up unsuspected foods as allergens. When considering blood tests for food allergens, it’s always a good idea to work with a doctor or nutritionist trained in dealing with food allergies.