Whether you are an athlete or not, GI issues are not fun. When these 4 steps are not taken, your issues can continue or return after temporary improvement. My 4 steps to GI issues always ‘fixes’ the issues for good, even the complex or chronic cases.
The most common GI issues include bloating, distension, nausea, constipation, gerd, acid reflux, diarrhea, leaky gut and pain in the stomach or the gut. This can be a challenge for those athletes competing in endurance events including Ironman – it usually results in much pain and much walking on the run portion of an event.
For some, the issues also can include inability to digest food, poor absorption of nutrients or ongoing or ever changing food sensitivities. Each one of these issues can be ‘fixed’ if you can understand why they are happening in the first place and implement a proven strategy to make them go away!
Here are my 4 steps to solving GI issues. You can also view the video here.
“When did this start happening?”
“Was there a stressful situation about that time? Has this stress been resolved?”
“What have you done thus far to ‘fix’ the issue?”
“Do you notice it get better or worse during the day? Do you notice it getting worse with certain foods?”
“Have you been on several rounds of anti-biotics for infections?”
“Have you been prescribed acid blockers?”
NOTE: Many times the acid blockers can temporarily for reflux and gerd issues, but over time, they impair digestion. When you impair digestion (primarily, you need acid to digest proteins), your create an imbalance in the intestinal tract with the healthy flora balance. This flora helps to further digest food – so it is out of balance, you may not be getting the nutrients from the foods you eat. The undigested food can create bloating and other GI disturbances.
2 – Request and review food logs.
I always request food logs with an explanation of when symptoms may be worse during the day. I review the food logs before our initial session and typically will conduct a Nutrition Response Testing session to confirm if foods are contributing to the issue, or something else. Usually I can tell just from food logs what is causing the issue.
3 – Conduct Nutrition Response Testing for food sensitivities or other aggravates.
If I suspect food allergies, I conduct a Nutrition Response Testing session to verify which primary food test negatively and which would be okay to include. I have had clients whose issues initially did not go away when we took out wheat (a common aggravate). Why were they not getting better? Because the gluten free products they were buying were brown rice based, and when they came back for testing, brown rice showed up as a problem as well as the wheat. Unknowingly, we had swapped one problem food for another. I now test all grains even though wheat may be the primary culprit. You want to know what you CAN eat!
If we find food sensitivities, first we need to eliminate the food(s). Then I work with you to find alternatives so you know what you CAN eat. There is nothing more frustrating to me or client to have eliminated a food, get a list of foods to avoid and have no idea what to eat. I help you expand your food choices beyond what you may have thought was available 🙂
NOTE: There may be a time when you can reintroduce the foods several months later once the gut has healed. You may react to it, or you may not. If no reaction, we review the rotation diet.
4 – Rebuild the gut lining with probiotics or other supplements as needed.
Once we have eliminated the aggravating foods, we sometimes add a digestive enzyme to help with this process. Then we work on the next step – Rebuild the gut lining. But if you do this step too soon, you are probably wasting
time. If you think of the intestines as a tube with ‘wall paper’, it can get gummed up with gluten or other food remnants which act like wall paper – they are firmly attached to the wall. So we need to remove the “wall paper” barrier – if you add the rebuilding items, they don’t get past the wall paper!
One of the rebuild supplement is either a pro-biotic or glutamine, sometimes both. It depends on your symptoms, and certain probiotics work on different parts of the intestinal tract. I do conduct the Nutrition Response Testing on the probiotics as we need to ‘repopulate’ the good bacteria. But only after the inflammation has subsided (from removing the offending foods in step 2).
If you are not seeing improvement with your GI issues, schedule a time to chat or schedule your fist visit. We can then review your symptoms, health history and options. When following my 4 steps, we will fix the GI issues for good. Give me less than 3 months, and you will be GI issue free!
From a client who recently came to me after years of just GI issues in every triathlon over the past 5 years. This is after an Eat To Compete 4-session package and 2 months after we started:
“Run: much improved from my last two runs with respect to GI issues. There were none!!!
I was spot on today with my nutrition. … Just thrilled my stomach did not hurt and I had no issues.
Joanna (nutritionist) showed up to cheer me on…She was very, very happy that I had a GI free day. I truly feel a sense of hope for next year!!” – Desiree M