For many of us within the ‘Squad Community’ that are exercising often and at high intensities, proper recovery (which is pivotal for overall and continued wellness), is neglected. Through my own personal journey I’ve learned that our gut plays a huge part in the overall puzzle of life balance. I remember in my college football days at Liberty University where I was completely oblivious to gut health, I was constantly battling stomach pains, constipation, and low energy levels throughout most of my day. Not really understanding why this was, I just kept pushing through till I graduated. Once my adult life started, I was still battling these feelings of constant dragging, stomach pains and indigestion after meals. This was often worse over the Holidays, when the many gatherings with friends and family included eating, drinking, or simply overindulging!
Then came what I will now call my “Great Awakening” when I found Crossfit. Once I was integrated into this community of constant health awareness and education, it became apparent that this gut discomfort was abnormal and needed attention. I slowly started to understand more and more, through my studies with OPEX (Optimal Performance Training) how the body’s physiology really works. How the energy we put out (exercise/physical activity) needs to have a specific plan of energy (nutrition/recovery) going in. How these systems all work together, and may need some maintenance to achieve optimal performance inside and out. Our genetic codes are those of our ancestors, and are not made for processed foods, artificial everything and pharmaceutical drugs. So it is vital as we piece together what it truly means to be “healthy” that we have an understanding of each system.
Why is digestive health so powerful?
What most people do not realize is that 80% of our immune system is stored in the digestive tract. Our gut is the second biggest part of our neurological system. A lot of health issues can start with our digestive tract.
As we continue to train hard and challenge our bodies to perform better and stronger, our bodies have a system in place to rebuild, replenish and grow in order for us to adapt to the stresses we are putting our bodies through. One of the main processes is our digestion of food and nutrient uptake from the foods we eat. The digestive tracts roles are;
- Ingestion of food
- Secretion of fluids and digestive enzymes
- Mixing and movement of foods and waste through the body
- Absorption of nutrients
- Excretion of waste
All of the roles are vital and linked as our muscles need nutrients like Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fats to rebuild and reboot the body. If the digestive tract is overloaded, under supported ailments will arise and likely get worse over time. Our muscles will lack what they need and recovery will be staggered.
On the general health side, if we have digestion issues, our immune system is affected and could cause problems associated with our colon and prostate (the latter obviously only men). Along with numerous other ailments, if our gut is out order it can throw the entire system off.
What kinds of Digestive disorders might arise?
According to The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Diseases 60-70 million people in the US are affected by digestive disorders. That’s almost 22% of the entire population of the US, evidencing that this is very prevalent topic and trying some natural remedies to help support your gut could help avoid more serious issues.
Symptoms to look out for if having digestive issues;
- Indigestion after meals
- Unusual stomach or gas pains
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blood in stool
So if you are not going to the bathroom and having a bowel movement several times a day, your digestive tract may need some maintenance. Eating a clean and balanced diet will make it much easier on your stomach to digest and recovery. The more processed garbage we eat the more we ask of our gut to do. Much like us it become overstressed and can break down.
What can you do to help support your digestive tract?
These are supplements I currently take on a regular basis, and have seen increased gut health, which in turn, improved my overall wellbeing and physical performance. Think of these natural supplements as stress reducers for your stomach.
- Probiotics– they are actual live bacteria that fight bad bacteria inside the gut. Probiotics have been associated directly to enhancing digestion, increasing the good flora of the stomach, reducing inflammation, and improved immune system function.
- Digestive enzymes– enzymes are a chemical reaction that break down foods into smaller components to be digested. With today’s diet not being what our guts are used to (compared to our ancestors), supplementing with some plant based digestive enzymes has helped relieve many who struggle with indigestion, and absorption of food.
- Kombucha– is a fermented tea that is rich in probiotics, enzymes, vitamin B12, glucuronic Acid, Lactic Acid, and other nutrients. This healthy elixir is tasty way to help get the gut some enjoyable maintenance.
Like many people, I have my favorite brands and flavors which I’d be happy to talk with you about if you are looking for recommendations. But ultimately I encourage you to find what works best for you.
Hope this helps.