New Gut, New Me – Part 1 of my “Healthy Gut Experiment”

Happy Saturday beautiful people! As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been in the process of executing a cross-country move, amidst final exams and working full time. Needless to say, I’ve had to put social media on the back burner to spend my time on more pertinent tasks. It has been a nice exercise in mindfulness to step away from the internet and focus on real life.

That being said, today I attended an amazing nutrition seminar given by some great friends Erik and Liza (catch them on the gram: @erikbustillo + @lizafit). The topic was “Healing Your Gut”, one that is quite near and dear to my heart (or to my gut? 🤔) because I have suffered with chronic digestive issues just about my whole life. The past six months or so have been particularly problematic, even though I feel like I eat very healthy about 97% of the time (Note: not an actual statistic).

Yesterday I went to a gastroenterologist for the first time, and they ordered blood work and an ultrasound to try to get to the bottom of this issue. Next week I’ll be going back to do the actual procedures, and then finding out the results several weeks after that. In the meantime I’ve ordered a probiotic called Restora that was recommended to me. I have not taken probiotics in years, so this is something that will potentially have a large and positive impact on my gut health.

Now, I could just sit around and keep eating the same way and wait until the doctor tells me the results of the lab work. But Erik and Liza’s seminar was so interesting and informative (remember I am studying nutrition too so I’m a total geek about this stuff) that I felt called to action. Finding your ideal gut health is just a big experiment, so I decided that I am going to put into practice some of the strategies they recommended. This will be the first post of a series documenting my experiences with this “gut experiment”.

After giving a little rundown of the anatomy and physiology of your digestive system, Erik and Liza talked about common “trigger foods” that irritate peoples GI tract: gluten, dairy, coffee(!!), alcohol, artificial sweeteners, and nightshade vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers. (By the way, I literally had no idea what nightshade vegetables were until today – isn’t learning cool???!)

They also talked about how chronic stress of the everyday modern life (traffic, work, kids, meetings, cell phones) activates the sympathetic nervous system – the “fight or flight” response. This literally draws blood away from digestive processes and into your extremities to get you ready for imaginary battle. I don’t know about you, but I feel my sympathetic nervous system being activated at least 13.4 times just about EVERY time I get in my car. (Maybe this means I should be more mindful when I drive?) Long story short, when you’re stressed you don’t digest, which manifests as bloating and irritation of the gut lining.

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to commit for the next two weeks, starting TODAY, to implement an elimination diet. I’m going to choose a few foods that I know tend to irritate my stomach and completely remove them from my diet for 14 days to see how it affects my overall health. This means NO CHEESE, NO COFFEE, and NO ALCOHOL. For two weeks. Is it going to be challenging? Yes. My blood volume is at least 54% Cuban coffee at this point (also not an actual statistic). And I could literally house a whole wheel of Brie cheese in one sitting. But today I am choosing my health over these food relationships. Coffee, cheese, wine, it’s not you guys, it’s me. This doesn’t mean we will be broken up forever, but I need some time to work on myself.

Today is day one. I am going to hold myself accountable by posting about my health and progress on this blog. If even just ONE person that is experiencing gut health problems reads this and is called to action to start making lifestyle and dietary changes, I will be happy. It might be gluten, it might be caffeine, but I encourage you to break up with those foods that are causing you irritation and inflammation. Try it for 2 weeks or try it for 30 days. I promise your health is WAY more important than that hunk of cheese calling your name.

Stand by for PART 2, and I wish you all a HAPPY and HEALTHY rest of the weekend!! Go outside, enjoy the sunshine, and don’t forget to eat your veggies! (Except maybe not nightshade veggies…)