It has been a while since I wrote the first three parts to this series:
- Part 1 – Digestion and Elimination: Diagnosing the Health of Your Gut
- Part 2 – Digestion and Elimination: Understanding the Importance of Gut Flora
- Part 3 – Digestion and Elimination: How to Fix Your Gut
Now that I have a moment, I would like to attempt to answer some of your questions. I would love it if you all would jump into the comments and add your ideas to the conversation.
Note: because of the sensitive nature of this topic I left out links that would identify those who asked questions. Normally I would love to link to my readers, but I did not want to embarass anyone.
1. Battling Constipation While Pregnant
Beth Asked: I’d be interested in hearing how to battle constipation while pregnant. I’m pretty much constipated all the time (and even more so when pregnant). I’ve taken psyllium fiber pills before, which helped, but I want to know the root cause and how to be healthy enough to not need them in the first place!
My Thoughts: Ah, yes, one of the joys of pregnancy – constipation. I believe it is the excess hormones that cause the digestive tract to "slow down". Here’s what I’d do:
- Eat fermented foods a few times per day- yogurt, kefir, raw cheese, kombucha, sauerkraut, etc.
- Eat raw foods with every meal.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Walk a lot.
- Take a good quality probiotic. (see sources)
- Avoid foods that cause constipation: white flour, sugars, pasteurized dairy, and unsoaked/unfermented grains.
2. Helping A Severely Constipated Child
Jo Asked: I would love to know what your suggestions are for children who suffer from type 1 & 2. My 3 yo daughter only goes every few days and it is such a painful experience for her.
My Thoughts: It sounds like your sweet daughter is fairly severely constipated. Short term I would try to alleviate the symptoms by feeding her lots of raw fruits and vegetables, yogurt, and soaked beans. Give her some psyllium dissolved in warm water and have her drink lots of water to move the psyllium through. The fiber in these foods should get things going.
Long term I would take the same steps that I outlined in question 1. Once you have at least eased her symptoms, I would look into a long term solution. Her gut may need a major overhaul depending on her birth experience, antibiotic use, past diet, etc. Many of my readers have had great success with the GAPS Diet (you can find it at the GAPS Diet Store). That is the diet I would implement if it were my child.
3. Finding Commercially Produced Lacto-Fermented Vegetables
Kristin asked: What are the best commercially-produced lacto-fermented vegetables to eat? Are all pickles, sauerkraut, etc. probiotic, even those bought from a mainstream grocery store? Any other suggestions besides pickles and sauerkraut?
My Thoughts: Most pickles and sauerkraut found in the grocery store are not probiotic foods. If they are shelf stable or contain vinegar than they are not lacto-fermented.
There is one brand of vegetables sold in health food stores that I think is lacto-fermented and that is Bubbie’s. Two brands that I trust that you can order online from are Caldwell’s from Cultures for Health and Zukay.
I have found that the easiest introduction to lacto-fermented vegetables comes from cultured salsa. It tastes like a living, tangy salsa and we love the stuff. Kimchi and cortido are also delicious ethnic variations of sauerkraut. But I have found that you can ferment just about any vegetable.
4. Crohn’s Disease and Identifying Trouble Foods
Katie Asked: How does one figure out what is causing abnormal stools, as in which meal causes diarrhea? My husband has Crohn’s, so he’s always had off digestion, but certain meals seem to give him diarrhea – but it happens right after the meal. In recording and trying to figure out his trouble foods, maybe the culprit is a few meals back? How quickly can anything move through your system?
My Thoughts: I have read that food can pass through your system very quickly if it is not able to digest it properly. So it is certainly possible for it to occur just after eating.
When attempting to identify which food is causing digestive distress it is best to eliminate all other variables. If you are eating wheat, sugar, and dairy – three common allergens – in one meal, or even in one day, it is difficult to know which food caused a reaction.
This is why I like the GAPS Diet so much. It allows you to press a reset button on your diet, if you will. By eliminating all possible trouble foods, re-establishing gut health, and then reintroducing foods one at a time you are able to nail down exact irritants.
5. What About Gas?
Many of you asked about this one.
My Thought: My first thought is: I may be too immature for this discussion.
But seriously, I have read reports that say passing gas 15-20 times per day is totally normal. I used to nod in agreement, but after witnessing what dietary changes can do I have to say that while it may be normal on the SAD diet, you don’t have to live like that. (and neither do the people around you)
I believe that if your gut is in good health and you are not eating foods that cause you distress then you can be nearly gas-free. (snicker) All kidding aside, when I eat foods that don’t agree with me – unsoaked grains & beans, pasteurized dairy, and sugar – I am reminded of the gut issues that I dealt with for years.
But when I eat well and avoid trigger foods I don’t have a fraction of the issues that I once considered"normal".
So, those are my thoughts on your questions. Remember (FDA) that I am just passing along my own personal beliefs, without any trained medical knowledge.
What are your thoughts on these questions?