The digestive system is complex, and it is communicating with us all the time, but sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what that ‘gut feeling’ is trying to say – nutritionist,…
Cramps, bloating or other gut symptoms may be pointing to specific conditions or simple problems that have easy solutions. Always consult your GP or health practitioner if you’re worried, otherwise the following signs may help decipher what your gut may be trying to tell you.
An overgrowth of the yeast candida albicans.
Seek diagnosis via a GP and do a stool test. Cut down on all sugar and processed food and remove all yeast from the diet – be kind to your gut and support it by eating probiotic-rich foods or taking a probiotic to restore healthy gut flora balance.
Increase your intake of fibre-rich fruits and vegetables, take a few teaspoons of psyllium husks stirred into water twice a day, drink lots of filtered water and cut down on caffeine. Try gentle exercise such as walking or yoga to help digestion and increase bowel movements.
Pain in the tummy, side or mid to lower back around the kidney area, and sometimes into the groin. Possible vomiting, loss of appetite, fever, shivering, diarrhoea, increased need to urinate, pain when urinating or blood in the urine.
See your GP immediately, drink lots of water and try a low-acid diet which can help in the case of cystitis. Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) also helps to temporarily alkalise the urine in your bladder so it’s less painful. Avoid scented soap, bubble bath and deodorant sprays as these will only make things worse. Natural bladder-soothing herbs taken as a tea can also help – try buchu, crataeva (also known as varuna) and uva ursi. Eat garlic to help with the bacterial infection – echinacea, vitamin A, vitamin C and zinc help your immune system too.
Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining), or a peptic ulcer (a sore within the lining of the stomach).
If at any point the pain is accompanied by blood in the vomit or dark stools, call your local emergency services immediately, as this may be a bleeding ulcer, otherwise consult a GP. Both conditions can be caused by overuse of anti-inflammatories, but can also be caused by an infection of helicobacter pylori, which can be tested and treated by your doctor.
Irritable bowel syndrome, or possibly an inflammatory bowel disease or coeliac disease.
Immediately avoid rich fatty foods, high-fibre foods, caffeine and alcohol. Investigate with a health practitioner who can discover the cause and treatment.
Gastroenteritis (infectious diarrhoea).
The most likely causes include food poisoning as a result of salmonella, or norovirus. If symptoms are severe, consult a GP immediately. In mild cases, hydrate by drinking lots of water with a pinch of Himalayan salt or Celtic sea salt, or coconut water.
Gut pain, as you can see, can be linked to a range of different conditions. However, if the cause of your symptoms is unclear, or sporadic, a great way to discover what could be happening is to keep a food diary. Writing down the foods you eat or drink over a twoweek period, and noting any symptoms you feel after eating the meals, ranging from your energy levels through to specific symptoms or reactions, is a handy way to track how your gut is responding to foods.
It might take a couple of weeks for you to see a pattern of certain ingredients resulting in particular responses. Once you’ve made any links to trigger foods you can take this information to a qualified health practitioner, and/or remove these foods for a period of time and see whether your symptoms disappear.
Taken from Supercharge Your Gut by Lee Holmes (Murdoch Books, £14.99).
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