As a naturopathic doctor, the digestive health of my patients is a primary concern, especially if they complain of bloating. There’s always so many things I have to take into account in order to get to the root cause of any discomfort ailing my patients. When it comes to disturbances with gut health, the issues can get confusing and may even be embarrassing to discuss. Proper assessment is so vitally important which is why I love stool tests which give detailed information about one’s microbiome. But there’s a lot that can be done in the interim with dietary habits so you can find relief sooner than later.
Welcome to my wheelhouse! I am here to make you feel comfortable discussing the not-so- comfortable things that impact your ultimate wellness. I have to guide and educate my patients through the process of healing. Finding a simple place to start is key. There is one easy way to add in food that is healing for the gut. It is not so much what it is ( although that is often a crucial point), but the preparation that is key. This simple train of thought goes back many centuries with Chinese medicine. And it parallels with Western medicine too – as you will see.
When it comes to optimal digestion, raw food can play an unsuspecting role. First and foremost, raw food is the supreme source for nutrient dense and unrefined food full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. However, if you are having digestive issues, I encourage you to take a look at your diet and the preparation of your foods. Most importantly, ask yourself how you feel after meals.
The stomach is an acidic and warm environment created to break food down into nutrients. If this burning furnace is disrupted, then digestion is impaired. Main symptoms to look out for include gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, moodiness, and abdominal pain or discomfort. This list of symptoms really has no end, so definitely seek out medical care if feeling unwell. In Naturopathic medical school, there was a famous phrase used often, ‘ When in doubt, treat the gut.’ So, if there is any room to optimize digestion, I will start there – because it is important! Our gut is the center of our body. We better pay attention.
Eating in a hurry, feeling stressed, or making poor food choices mixed with less than optimal food prep can be factors, especially if food is not chewed well. When it comes to bloating, that is a key sign that food is not getting digested properly. Food is not moving down and out. Instead, food is stagnant and the stomach is expanding outwards leading to extreme discomfort. Many of us are always on the go. Maybe not as much this year, but there is still so much to do and that sense of urgency has been instilled in many of us. By not breaking down food properly with chewing, it gives the stomach more work to do which requires more energy. In turn, this can deplete your overall energy.
Consuming an abundance of raw food, if not properly absorbed, can cool off that digestive fire as well. This means that food has to spend more time in the gut than it should which creates toxins – eww! Iced drinks and ice cream can be culprits. Even fruits, vegetables, smoothies and salads which are deemed healthy can pose a problem if there are digestive issues. I see this a lot – smoothie for breakfast & salads for lunch and dinner. All of these foods require a lot of work to be broken down by the body. If these are daily food choices, then the constant exposure to these cool foods can cause digestive issues.
Simple changes can be made to still enjoy these foods though. Avoid frozen fruits in smoothies. Think fresh berries! Drink the smoothies at room temperature or add some hot water or tea. As for your salads, try to eat it at room temperature as well. Lightly heat up most of the veggies you eat and add warming foods such as ginger.
Another tactic I use is the ‘Dr. Dawn Raw Food Sandwich’. This includes having your favorite salad with a warm soup beforehand and then a warm tea afterwards. Getting creative can really help you enjoy your favorite dish plus giving the body the proper support it needs.
Consider warming up your digestive fire with healing teas, broths, or lightly sautéing or steaming your veggies. Once your gut is healed, try adding the raw food back in moderation. If you need more tips on improving your digestion, feel free to call me at Inner Source Health based in Huntington www.innersourcehealth.com for a FREE 10 minute virtual or phone consultation at 631.421.1848 or follow me @drdawnnd!