Spring Cleaning? Start with Your Gut!
It’s hard to believe it, but Spring is now right at our front door. Many of us are still feeling the remains of our wintertime weather, but with the Daylight Savings time change - we have no choice but to face the truth. Spring is here, and with it comes that overwhelming itch to clean and organize.
Though the origins of ‘Spring Cleaning’ are heavily disputed based on a number of global cultures, it continues to have a modern theme and relevance even today. Not to mention, there is something incredibly satisfying about getting rid of the old and starting fresh. But while we’re discussing traditional aspects of your Spring Cleaning routine, there may be another site that could do with a little refreshment this time of year:
Okay, maybe that leaves more questions than answers, like ‘Why does my gut need to be cleaned?’ or ‘How does one Spring Clean their gut?’
Let’s start off with understanding why you might benefit from helping your digestive system get rid of unwanted waste.
Even if you’re part of the ‘regular squad’ and you likely poop once a day, your body is constantly producing more waste. Your stools are made up of liquid, undigested food, dietary fiber, fat, minerals, and protein - in addition to bacteria and other microbes. For those who aren’t so regular, you’re likely to have more of that waste built up in your system. This can cause occasional discomfort in your gut and can make you feel bloated.
More than likely, there are a number of reasons why how frequently (or infrequently) you go might need some attention. Whether your diet, your medication, or other lifestyle factors are to blame, there are a number of ways you can help ease the burden of waste in your gut and give your body that feeling of ‘refresh’ you get after a good seasonal cleaning.
3 Reasons You Might Be Backed Up
1. You’re dehydrated
Scientists have known for some time that your fluid levels can influence how easily your digestive system moves food waste along.1 If you’re not fully hydrated, it may be difficult for you to pass your waste regularly.
2. You’ve been traveling
It’s not just a myth. Traveling knocks your body out of your daily routine and that can have an impact on your body’s natural rhythms of digestion. Plus, extended periods of inactivity (like sitting in a car or traveling on a plane) lessens your body’s ability to move things along as per usual.
3. Your medication
Sometimes our medications have unexpected consequences that can disrupt how frequently we go. Fortunately, it’s likely a noted side effect listed on your prescription. You can always talk to your doctor or a pharmacist to learn more about if your medications are impacting your digestive regularity.
Although there may be other reasons why your digestive process isn’t quite normal, they all are likely pointing to some sort of imbalance in your gut. You may benefit from a little more movement in your digestive tract, but before you take your next steps - it’s just as important to know what not to do. Many of us have seen marketing that pushes herbal or pharmaceutical products touted as being beneficial ‘colon cleanses.’ Whether they’re sourced from natural ingredients or not, it’s important to note that your body’s natural process is usually the right one.
Taking a product to help you "clear out" your digestive system can often have unexpected negative effects. For example, forcing out stools or other waste through the use of a colon cleanse might be harmful or disruptive to your gut ecosystem. Many of the microbes that thrive in your digestive tract are located within the colon (which is the ‘exit’ site for our digestive tract). Many products may cause our body to overcompensate and expel waste at an increased rate - or in layman's terms: leaving us sitting on the toilet for an extended period until the colon cleanse has been completed - which can unnecessarily clear out the populations of our gut flora. Additionally, these products tend to force out wastewater and cause loose bowels, potentially leading to dehydration.
In general, colon cleanses are likely not necessary to help you Spring Clean your gut. Rather just a few simple dietary changes might do just the trick.
How Best to Spring Clean Your Gut
We recommend the tried and true HHP method, perhaps best remembered by the mnemonic device Happy Happy Poop method: Hydrate. High-Fiber. And Probiotics.
For the healthiest way to help clean out excess waste from your system, grab some water, increase your consumption of fiber-rich foods, and consider taking a probiotic. Each one of these recommendations can help balance out your gut in different ways and make it easier for you to regulate your system.
Although your recommendations may vary from your neighbor, there are boundless foods rich in fiber ranging from avocados, whole grains, beans, to fruits such as pears and apples. Even if you may not find any of these nutrient-rich foods in your Superfood List, rest assured that your food recommendations reflect a healthy range suitable for your needs. All you have to do is consult the Viome App and look through what’s recommended for you (that includes your Enjoy list as well)!
We also know you’re likely getting antsy to start your spring cleaning routine. After all, it is the season of renewal. But getting a fresh start sometimes requires a little inner reflection first. What do you need to feel refreshed? What does your body require to get back into shape? Sometimes it’s as simple as evaluating what goes into you and what to kick out. Doing a quick assessment of your diet and lifestyle is a great way to kick off into spring and start with a clean slate.
Maybe it’s time to do a deep dive into your inner temple needs - and not just the one you live in. And remember, for the millions of microbes that live inside you, they likely want to thrive in a healthy environment, too. It’s a form of synergy. What good you put in equates to good that comes out, even if it’s your poop.
1 Arnaud, M.J. (2003). [Dehydration and digestion]. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. PubMed.ncbi.nim.nih.gov.