Over-Training Diet Tricks for Upset Stomachs
From a young age me and my stomach have not seen eye to eye – and by the age of 21 we had officially fallen out to the point where i was hospitalized. Granted Crohn’s disease is a little more complicated than an upset stomach, it is however fair to say that a lot of the side effects/symptoms of my Crohn’s revolves around my stomachs ability or i should say inability to digest food.
There is a lot of advice and supplements available for digestive health so here is my take on what has worked best for me over the years. (This advice can be used to help you with your IBD or IBS or even general diet advice when you are experiencing stomach issues. )
The first thing i want to say is ‘Everyone is different’ so rather than take one piece of advice as gospel i would always try and see- ‘what may work for others might not work for you’.
I have found that at times of stress (or times when my body is fighting off other issues), that certain foods that are normally fine in my diet, have to be removed till i’m 100% again – so this illustrates the need for you to better understand your body and why a food diary works so well, despite being a pain in the ass (forgive the pun). (For example i love crunchy peanutbutter but during times of stress or a flair up my body will reject peanutbutter unless it is the ultra smooth kind….. ridiculous i know but such is life.)
One piece of advice (non dietary) that i always offer to anyone coming to me to complain about their stomachs is that a good exercise regime not only helps to de-stress the body but exercise itself can actually help improve the efficiency of the digestive process.. Win win right! …. Exercise can also help increase your appetite which for many people suffering from IBS or IBD
is useful as these conditions usually cause the patient to loose their appetite therefore further increasing their risk of becoming deficient in certain vitamins and minerals further exacerbating their condition. (It should go without saying that exercise has many other health benefits so i will not use any more of this article to discuss training itself but more the diet side of things)
So now onto the big area of what to eat- to be honest as previously stated their is no one right answer, depending on your condition whether it is IBS or IBD or just an allergy you will find different foods affect you differently, therefore dietary recommendations must be individualized.
That being said, I would usually recommend an Elimination diet– The Elimination diet (as the name suggests) is a diet which involves systematically removing foods or ingredients that are considered trigger foods (gluten, dairy, sugars, fatty foods) and determining which ones are causing the problems. Obviously you need to be careful when doing this so as to substitute other foods into your diets that provide the same nutrients, for example if removing dairy products, it is important to replace the calcium and Vitamin D in your diet via another source (almond milk, pak choi). Many people who suffer from IBS or IBD end up creating a very poor diet in terms
of micro nutrients as they remove too much from their diets without replacing the micronutrients lost from other sources (people with IBD usually suffer from malabsorption anyway so they are already at risk of becoming malnourished)
Here is a list of things i would try removing (not all of these you need to add back into your diet even if it turns out they aren’t causing the issues.. yes im referring to alcohol mainly.. which has NO nutritional value)
- alcohol (mixed drinks, beer, wine)
- butter, mayonnaise, margarine, oils
- carbonated beverages
- coffee, tea, chocolate
- dairy products
- fatty foods (fried foods)
- foods high in fiber
- gas-producing foods (beans, broccoli and onions)
- nuts and seeds
- raw fruits
- raw vegetables
- red meat and pork
- spicy foods
- whole grains and bran
- Artificial Sweeteners (although these may not cause obvious symptoms, artificial sweeteners have been found to cause inflammation in the body and can therefore worsen symptoms)
This process takes some time but essentially once you have worked out what foods cause your discomfort you then know to avoid them in the future- therefore limiting the discomfort caused by the food you eat (obviously it is not always easy and some people will struggle to remove certain things from their diet so it really depends on the individual to how effectively they follow this protocol.. if you suffer from IBD like me the incentive is slightly higher)
For IBS sufferers or those with mild allergies, this protocol can be amazingly effective, for those suffering from IBD again it is amazingly effective but their are other factors to be taken into account so no guarantee can be given, it can however help keep you in remission for long periods of time as i have experienced.
Many of theses trigger foods are fairly obvious or well understood as to why they are considered trigger foods, however there are a few that seem to get misinterpreted by many.
Dietary fiber is often misunderstood and it is one of the most important when it comes to regulating the digestive process. Fiber is found in foods such as fruits, vegetables and grains. The fitness/health/diet industry is always telling us to eat more fiber and since vegetables are one of the best available sources of fiber it is no surprise why high fiber diet are popular with fitness fanatics. This however is not always in the best interest for those suffering from stomach issues. For many people with IBD, consuming fiber at times when their condition is active can cause abdominal cramping and bloating. So begs the question ‘What do we do?’ Surely just completely removing fiber from our diet will give us a diet void of any fruit or vegetables leaving us with a very unbalanced and probably very unhealthy diet. (I have been placed on a low fiber/low residue diet before by a doctor and whilst my case of Crohn’s was fairly severe at the time i would never recommend a diet quit so restrictive. (the diet basically was protein shakes and rice krispies- not exactly healthy)). What we need to therefore understand is the differences in the sources of fiber and how they affect our bodies differently.
Not all sources of fiber cause the same abdominal problems as previously noted. Soluble fiber– which is a type of fiber with the ability to dissolve in water can actually help absorb water in the gut, slowing down the time food takes to pass through the digestive tract, therefore it can help reduce symptoms like diarrhea.
Insoluble fiber on the other hand is more difficult to digest as it pulls water into the gut causing digestion to speed up- Insoluble fiber can therefore aggravate the gut, causing bloating, diarrhea, gas and stomach cramps. When inflammation or narrowing of parts of the intestines occurs (In IBD patients) then consuming insoluble fiber can lead to worsening symptoms with potential for blockages in the intestinal tract.
So where should i get my Fibre from ?
- Avocado -(Soft, smooth, and chock-full of good fats, B vitamins, vitamin E, and potassium) One of the only fruits that contains digestion-friendly soluble fiber.
- Oatmeal a good source of complex carbohydrates also provides a good amount of soluble fiber per serving
- Bananas– if your worried about not being able to eat fruit because of the fiber content then try a banana, higher in the soluble type of fiber than insoluble and as a fleshy fruit it is easier to digest- also a great source of potassium
Hopefully we now understand Fiber a little better:
Now before this article gets too long i will just give you my top Diet tricks not only for people with Crohn’s disease but for anyone looking to either eat healthier or reduce bloating and any stomach issues they may have. Starting with basic foods to eat:
- (As already mentioned Avocado, Oatmeal and Bananas)
- Mashed potatoes may be an easy food to introduce when your stomach is acting up as it is more easily digestible and contains potassium (avoid the skins — which are more difficult to digest because they contain insoluble fiber)
- Almond Milk (unsweetened) – Great alternative to normal dairy milk- help replace calcium in your diet
- Eggs are an inexpensive source of easily digested protein.
- Chicken and turkey -both protein-rich and mild and easy to digest, making them a great protein source.
- Hummus—and well-pureed lentils are a terrific source of lean protein and other nutrients, and again easier to digest.
- Worried about not getting enough veg in your diet because of going low fibre then try vegetable soups (not the chunky ones though)
- Rice may not be super-nutritious, but easy on the gut. They can also provide the calories you need during intestinally challenging times
- Salmon– great protein source that also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which helps reduce inflammation
- Nutbutter’s (almond, peanut, cashew but the smooth kind- sorry everyone) high in calories and healthy fats- great if your struggling to eat enough.
- Greek Yogurt– rich in calcium the sugar that usually causes people with lactose intolerance to have stomach issues is altered and therefore many people who are lactose intolerant can still consume yogurt- Also many have probiotics added to them which may help aid digestion.
- Pineapple juice has been found to be beneficial for reducing the severity and incidence of colon inflammation in IBD.
- Omega 3 + 6- supplementation is beneficial for everyone since they are Essential Fatty acids (considered essential because the body cannot produce them on its own) and few people ingest enough through their daily diet. Among the most important EFAs are the Omega-3 fats EPA and DHA, both of which are vital to optimum digestive function and overall health.
- Multivitamin- With many people eating an unbalanced diet or those who have IBD suffering from malabsorption i would always recommend supplementing your diet with a complete multivitamin. For those that follow a rigorous training program your body/ immune system/ central nervous system is under extra stress so help feed it the micronutrients it needs to perform optimally. Also due to recent farming processes the vegetables and fruit we eat no longer contain the level of micronutrients that they used to (unless you go organic with everything) so even if you are getting your 5 a day its probably still not enough.
- Probiotic- bit of a debatable topic with many but essentially many people who suffer from IBD or IBS have an imbalance in their guts between the ‘good’ bacteria and bad bacteria (some IBD or IBS medication can cause this imbalance or the disease itself). Probiotics promote the growth of so called ‘good’ bacteria in your gut which in turn helps promote a healthier gut alleviating the symptoms. I would personally advise taking the pill form of the supplement where the concentration of probiotics is a lot greater than those found in the yogurts you find in supermarkets (also the yogurts tend to be high in sugar and i dont personally feel they work). Not everyone will find probiotics work for them but its worth a try- i personally take Lactobacillus acidophilus when i use protein powders as this type of bacteria helps with the digestion of lactose and although most protein powders I buy are low or zero lactose content i find it helps prevent me from feeling bloated.
- Tumeric – Turmeric has been used in Indian and Chinese medicine for thousands of years to treat a wide variety of conditions including poor digestion. Its main active component, curcumin, has been shown to possess powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- Ginger root- Historically, ginger has a long tradition of being very effective in alleviating discomfort and pain in the stomach. Ginger is regarded as an excellent carminative (a substance that promotes the elimination of excessive gas from the digestive system and soothes the intestinal tract).
- Aloe Vera gel- The aloe plant is also a pre-biotic which means it creates a good environment for the growth of the good bacteria (pro-biotics) in the gut. It also has a great healing effect on all epithelial surfaces, the largest of these of course is the lining of the gut. The Aloe plant often labelled the ‘medicine plant’ is naturally anti-fungal and anti bacterial, It has natural anti-inflammatory properties and It has natural pain killing properties. My mother used to use it for everything when we were kids so it only makes sense when i found the drinkable kind that i tried it and it does seem to sooth the stomach when taken first thing in the morning.
- Peppermint oil- peppermint is extremely useful for indigestion. Peppermint contains essential oils that stimulate the gallbladder to secrete its store of bile, which the body uses to digest fats. This makes peppermint a wonderful digestive aid for heavy meals. It also improves the function of the muscles that line the stomach and intestines, relieving diarrhea, and has a calming, numbing effect on the entire gastrointestinal tract. Many people find that peppermints best feature is its anti-spasmodic and pain relieving properities-( i personally found it helped my indigestion and actually made my burps taste minty fresh which although sounds gross is actually quite a useful trait when suffering from severe stomach cramps)
- Dandelion root- a well known natural diuretic not often prescribed for upset stomachs but i have found it helps reduce that feeling of being bloated that we all hate (just remember to keep well hydrated when taking this supplement).
- Super Greens- you can buy all the usual suspects seperately but i have found it easier just to buy a generic blend that contains the key ingredients Spirulina, Chlorella and Wheatgrass.. there are many more but essentially these blends contain a mix of these superfoods, (I could ramble on about the benefits of each but that would take ages so…) in essence they are packed full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, enzymes, co-factors, and will help not only contribute to your 5 a day, but it is also easily digestible, easy to add to your diet/hectic lifestyle and will help alkalize your body.
- Glutamine- Is the most prevalent amino acid in the body, renowned for its healing properties in the gut. It aids in the production of enterocytes—cells that line the intestinal tract and play a key role in controlling the absorption of nutrients and prohibiting improperly digested proteins from entering the bloodstream. Suggested dose is 2-3g daily but i like to aim for at least 5g daily. See what works for you (but its cheap and no real side effects)
- Protein Powders- I dont always advise protein powders and for some people with stomach issues they may find that protein powders actually irritate their stomach, that being said, if like me you struggle with time, you exercise a lot and your stomach sucks at digesting foods then protein powders (low lactose options with probioitcs included) are a good source of easily digestible protein important not only for muscle repair but also general health. Drinking your calories is sometimes the best option for people with stomach problems or during a IBD flare up. I would never recommend a weight gainer shake but if your struggling to get calories in try adding smooth peanutbutter, banana and powdered oats to a protein shake to make your own healthy, great tasting and calorific shake.
So there you have it the main diet tricks that i use and advise you try to help settle that stomach- as always remember that with the elimination diet to maintain a balanced diet so when removing a food group try and replace the lost micronutrients from another source. When it comes to supplements they are very useful for just that ‘Supplementing your diet’, i rely on them more heavily than others cause my condition is worse than others but if you can get a balanced diet from whole/real food then i would always advise you do that first- and remember this is what has worked for me, you may find some of the supplements don’t agree with you or don’t do anything for you… Everyone is different …
Over-Training diet tricks
Over-Training Diet Tricks