An RD Shares Her Tips For Stellar Gut Health & Beating Bloat STAT
Nour Zibdeh, RDN, is a nutritionist who's passionate about helping patients use food to improve gut health. Originally from Jordan, Zibdeh came to the states when she was 20 to pursue her nutrition degree—but it wasn't until she healed her own headaches, bloating, and brain fog using an elimination diet that she realized just how important the gut really is.
"If you don't have a gut that's working, you're really not benefiting from anything," Zibdeh says, adding that chronic fatigue, skin issues, anxiety and depression, and congestion can all be symptoms of underlying food sensitivities. It's difficult to say how many Americans are currently living with some sort of gut issue since they so often go unreported, but Zibdeh guesses it's over 40%.
If you suspect that something is off about your digestion, here are the practices the RD recommends for optimal gut health:
1. Reduce your sugar intake.
2. Remember that "healthy" foods could be the culprit.
Beyond obvious culprits like sugar, Zibdeh has found that ingredients like onions, garlic, nuts, and certain legumes can spur symptoms in patients. So she always recommends keeping a detailed food journal of everything you're eating so you can more accurately trace symptoms back to specific foods.
3. Drink bone broth.
4. Eat your aloe.
Aloe is prized for its skin-soothing properties, and the plant also has some serious gut benefits. "The gut is a continuation of your skin," Zibdeh reminds us, saying that she likes to buy aloe leaves whole, let them soak in water for 15 to 20 minutes, and cut out the white, gooey insides, which have a very neutral flavor, to add to smoothies.
5. Space out your meals, and don't graze throughout the day.
Zibdeh recommends leaving at least three hours between meals and snacks to give your body time to properly digest. She compares constant snacking to an eternally dirty floor, saying, "This is kind of like if you have a lot of crumbs on the floor and you're trying to sweep it, and then your kids run around and distribute it again. You have to start all over."
If you're already experiencing symptoms, here are some fast-acting gut soothers.
What if it's too late for these preventive measures and you're already feeling bloated or gassy after a big meal? Zibdeh recommends keeping digestive enzymes and bitters on hand. Other stomach soothers she swears by include peppermint tea, garlic supplements ("Garlic can actually make you more bloated, but if you take garlic extract in supplement form, it can neutralize the gut flora," she explains), chamomile, fennel, and black or green tea.
"Sometimes I do recommend activated charcoal, but you shouldn't be taking it daily for more than a week," she adds. "If you have extra gases in the stomach, it acts like a sponge and absorbs everything, but it doesn't get absorbed itself."
Tune into this jam-packed episode to learn more about Zibdeh's food philosophy and get her take on how going Keto, eating a low-histamine diet, and intermittent fasting actually affect the gut. Over the course of the hour, she also dives into how to talk to your doctor if you suspect you have a gut health issue, how to get your kids to eat gut-healing foods, and how the shape of your poop can indicate the state of your digestion.
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