Isolate Your Gut Issue - A 30-Day Guide
May 19, 2023
In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the importance of gut health and the significant impact it can have on our overall well-being. From digestive disorders to immune function, the gut plays a crucial role in maintaining our body's balance. This is why it's essential to identify and address any underlying gut issues.
Here at JUVIA, we are passionate about helping you live your best life without restriction, so why not give JUVIA a try to see how it works for you? Alternatively, try this 30-day program to help you find the source of your gut woes.
How to Identify Trigger Foods
In this 30-day guide, we'll provide you with a structured approach to help you isolate your gut issues and find the right treatment options. By identifying trigger foods, understanding the symptoms of various gut disorders, and making necessary lifestyle changes, you can start to improve your gut health and overall well-being.
This one-month guide will put you back onto the path that leads to overall well-being, so you can feel free in 2023. Remember, though, this is a general guide and it should not be used to substitute medical advice. If you experience very severe symptoms and do so frequently, then you ought to seek professional medical guidance.
This 30-day guide is safe to try and will likely benefit most people that suffer from issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but sometimes IBS can be a symptom of a more serious condition, so it is always best to have a full medical check-up if you have concerns.
Plan of Action
A month-long plan to isolate your gut issue involves several key steps. By following this guide, you'll be able to gain a better understanding of your gut's condition and identify possible triggers. We have created this 30-day plan because we believe it strikes the right balance of being easy to commit to - any longer may seem daunting, but long enough to give you a strong indication of what causes you trouble and how to best approach it.
For some people, total elimination of problem foods may be necessary because of acute sensitivity, while for others, simply reducing the quantity and frequency may be enough to manage because of a stronger tolerance.
That’s the point of this 30-day plan - to isolate your gut issue and give you the freedom of choice.
Day 1-7: Food Journaling
Journaling is a really important step in the process. You can’t control or improve something that you cannot measure, so get yourself a notepad and a pencil, and get excited about being a master notetaker. It will pay off.
Use your journal to record everything you consume, including meals, snacks, beverages, and any supplements. Note the time of day and any symptoms that may arise after eating. This will help you track potential trigger foods and provide valuable information for your healthcare provider.
It will be useful to keep a record of portion sizes so you can gauge whether reducing the portion size has any meaningful effect on the extent and duration of your symptoms. Highlighters are also very useful. By highlighting specific food items, you can very quickly see how often you eat them, and more importantly, highlighting every occasion that you experience symptoms will give you a visual representation that makes it easy to spot trends.
Day 8-14: Symptom Assessment
Now, that you’ve been recording your meals and highlighting any symptoms, it is important to actively review your food journal to identify patterns and possible connections between the foods you've consumed and the symptoms you've experienced. Look for common trends, such as specific food groups or ingredients that may be causing issues.
Thanks to your highlighter, you should be able to spot the red flags very easily. Once you have linked your symptoms to a particular food item or group, you can eliminate it entirely or reduce portion sizes and frequency to see if it makes any difference.
Sometimes, the trends aren’t always easy to spot because you may tend to eat two or more ingredients together, or one item with lots of different meals, like beans for example. Don’t worry though, you will still see a pattern which gives you the opportunity to try each of the ingredients in isolation to see which items are the troublemakers but remember, it can be more than one.
That’s what we’ll look at next.
Day 15-21: Elimination Diet
The process of elimination is useful to get a definitive answer regarding which foods impact you.
Implement an elimination diet by removing suspected trigger foods from your meals. This may include common allergens and irritants like gluten, dairy, soy, corn, and refined sugar. One thing that people tend to overlook is sauces. Sauces can be a sneaky trigger as they contain lots of ingredients, including sugars and additives. Less common trigger food items include eggs, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, caffeine, alcohol, and additives like MSG and food colourings can also have an impact.
Focus on consuming whole, unprocessed foods that are easy to digest and unlikely to cause inflammation, and remember that some food choices contain multiple ingredients, so be mindful about what you eat and don’t forget to record food choices that have multiple ingredients, so you don’t miss any opportunities to spot troublesome ingredients.
Food items that are less likely to cause inflammation include lean proteins, non-starchy vegetables (leafy greens, bell peppers, zucchinis etc), low-glycemic fruits (berries, green apples and cherries), gluten-free whole grains (soaked and washed brown rice, quinoa, and millet), and healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds). Although these items are typically less problematic, it won’t be the case for everyone, but hopefully, knowing this will help you to isolate food items on your elimination journey.
One of the key elements of an elimination diet is to bring your body back to a symptom-free state. It may mean eating very simple foods for a short while, but this is precisely what will allow you to become attuned to which foods your body reacts to.
Day 22-28: Reintroduction of Foods
Now that you’ve had a period of elimination and you have little to no symptoms, you can slowly reintroduce the foods you eliminated back into your diet, one at a time. It should be easier to notice any changes, so monitor your symptoms closely and keep a record of your observations in your food journal.
If you notice that your body reacts to a particular food item, try it again in isolation on another occasion, just to be sure. If you react, bingo, you have scored a point on identifying a problematic ingredient. Make a note of how severe the symptoms were and how long they lasted. If it’s a food that you particularly enjoy and don’t want to give it up entirely, try eating half the portion and see what difference that makes.
Having a break from problematic ingredients can sometimes improve tolerance (assuming that the issue is one of intolerance rather than an allergy).
Go through this process with all the food items you regularly consume until you have a very clear picture. This could take longer than 30 days, but you will definitely have a good understanding of how your body works by the end of this program.
Day 29-30: Evaluation and Next Steps
On day 30, evaluate your findings from the elimination and reintroduction phases. You should have a clear pattern by now. This will let you craft a good diet plan moving forwards, but you may wish to consider seeking the advice of a healthcare professional to develop a personalized treatment plan based on your specific responses to food items.
Either way, you are now armed with the knowledge of how your body works. This is helpful for social meals, and knowing how and when to treat yourself, because sometimes, we can just decide that it’s worth the discomfort for a little of our favourite treat. Missing out doesn’t have to mean forever, but this very much does depend on each individual and how severe your symptoms are.
Understanding and Identifying Your Gut Issues
Before you can begin to address your gut issues, it's essential to have a basic understanding of common gut disorders, their symptoms, and diagnostic methods. This will give you an inclination of what might be going wrong for you and why.
Remember, this is a basic guide and is not intended to help you diagnose yourself - only a medical professional can do that. Hopefully, reading this guide will help you convey your symptoms to a medical professional more confidently and convincingly, so you can get the medical treatment that you may need.
Identifying IBS Triggers
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common functional gastrointestinal disorder, characterized by abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea, and/or constipation. There are several subtypes of IBS, including IBS-D (diarrhoea-predominant), IBS-C (constipation-predominant), and IBS-M (mixed).
Understanding your specific subtype can help a medical professional to tailor treatment strategies for you.
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky gut syndrome, or increased intestinal permeability, occurs when the tight junctions between the intestinal cells become compromised, allowing undigested food particles, bacteria, and toxins to enter the bloodstream. Common symptoms include digestive issues, skin problems, and autoimmune conditions. Identifying a leaky gut involves testing for specific markers (such as zonulin) and working with a healthcare provider to address the underlying causes, which may include food sensitivities, gut dysbiosis, or chronic inflammation.
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
SIBO occurs when there is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine or migration of bacteria from the large intestine that are not normally in the small intestine, leading to symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, and malabsorption. To diagnose SIBO, your healthcare provider may use a breath test or other diagnostic tools. It's essential to address the root causes of SIBO, which may include low stomach acid, impaired gut motility, or an underlying condition like Crohn's disease or celiac disease.
Once you have identified the cause of your gut issue, you can explore various treatment options by speaking to your GP or pharmacy.
In some cases, medication may be prescribed to address specific gut issues. Always follow your healthcare provider's recommendations and be aware of potential side effects. Common medications for gut issues may include:
Antispasmodics: To relieve abdominal cramping and pain.
Laxatives or antidiarrheals: To manage IBS symptoms related to bowel movements.
Antibiotics: To treat bacterial overgrowth, such as in SIBO.
Acid reducers: To manage symptoms of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) or other acid-related issues.
Lifestyle changes are probably the preferred solution because it emphasises prevention rather than cure. Check out our tips below for ideas.
In addition to identifying trigger foods and seeking treatment, it's essential to make lifestyle changes that support overall gut health. You will be quite surprised about what affects your gut health and equally the far reach of your gut health on your wider health.
Stress can negatively impact gut health, so it's important to find effective ways to manage stress. Regular practice of mindfulness meditation can help reduce stress and promote relaxation, which has been shown to improve gut health.
Combining physical postures with breath control and meditation through yoga can help alleviate stress and improve gut function.
Talking to a therapist or counsellor can provide valuable support and guidance for managing stress and developing healthy coping strategies, which should lower your anxiety and thus improve your gut health.
Regular exercise has been shown to support healthy digestion and overall gut function. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week, incorporating activities such as walking, swimming, cycling, or strength training.
Quality sleep is essential for gut health as it allows the body to repair and regenerate. Prioritize good sleep habits and aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Establish a consistent sleep schedule, create a relaxing bedtime routine, and ensure your sleep environment is comfortable and conducive to rest.
Staying properly hydrated can support digestion and overall gut health. Aim to consume at least 8 cups of water per day, and consider increasing your intake if you engage in physical activity or live in a hot climate.
Your gut health is crucial to your overall health. It is important to give it the attention it deserves, especially if you are experiencing discomfort just because you have eaten the foods you most enjoy.
Isolating your gut issues is a crucial step toward improving your overall health and well-being. By following this 30-day guide, you'll be able to identify potential triggers and gain a better understanding of your gut's condition. Here at JUVIA, we are passionate about improving lives and we want to give you every tool and tip to help you feel free in 2023. We hope you have found this 30-day guide useful.