I get asked this all the time: “How do I get abs like yours?” YOU have abs; you simply need to expose them. My assumption is that you already exercise, which, alone, is not a complete solution. Here are the options: diet aggressively and exercise more (this is the conventional approach, will harm your health, and PREVENT you from achieving your goals, long term), diet moderately, or PURSUE EXTREME HEALTH. If you attempt the latter two, you’ll get there fairly quickly. If you simply do the latter, like me, you’ll be able to shape yourself into whatever you’d like, and keep it without much effort.
GUT HEALTH IS THE FIRST STEP IN EXTREME HEALTH!
There’s an intimate connection between gut health, looking better naked and performing at your best. If your gut health is poor, you’re more likely to be overweight. If it’s exceptional, you’re more likely to be fit. So, find a way in which to achieve exceptional gut health! Your skin will look healthier, you’ll be able to think more clearly, and you will be able to lose fat and add muscle to your desire. Essentially, the quality of your digestion will impact the efficiency by which you absorb those expensive organic, grass-fed, free-range nutrients you are buying at Whole Foods.
Although there’s more, here are the fifteen tactics I use to achieve optimal gut health. How can you tell your gut health is optimal? Well. . . . the quality of your bowel movements! You can also get a stool test from your doctor.
1. Eat Fermented Foods. This is nature’s probiotic and something you can do at almost every meal: yogurt for breakfast (if you can handle dairy but there are nondairy options), kombucha for lunch, and kimchi or sauerkraut for dinner.
2. Supplemental ProBiotic. In addition to eating the foods above (with the exception of yogurt—I love dairy, but my body doesn’t), I take a daily probiotic to ensure I can digest what I need. Although mine are rotated by my doctor, a basic, high-quality probiotic is ProBioMax Daily DF (for dairy-free) is a good place to start. Regardless of your selection, do it with some professional oversight. Or, at least, make sure you buy a high-quality product from a trusted source like Stark (shameless plug?).
3. Digestive Enzymes. As we age we produce less and less of the enzymes needed to digest our food and absorb what we need. So, it’s a good idea to supplement, especially if have high levels of stress in your life. My favorite, which I take daily at all three meals, is Digestzymes by Designs for Health. It’s a great product, but there are many. As mentioned above, buy them from the right source. If your stools improve, you’re on the right track.
4. Soluble Fiber. Eating lots of soluble fiber in your foods will do two things: feed the good bacteria in your gut; and, bind to your LDL cholesterol, naturally lowering it. Here’s a good list of foods with lots of it https://www.healthhype.com/list-of-high-fiber-foods-soluble-and-insoluble-fiber-chart.html
5. Insoluble Fiber. Unlike soluble fiber above, insoluble fiber keeps your colon healthy by passing right through, undigested. That same link will give you solid (pun intended) examples of foods high in insoluble fiber.
6. Avoid Processed Sugar. Processed sugar is kind of like the opposite of fiber: it can feed the BAD bacteria. But, you’ll find it nearly impossible to avoid. This is one of the downsides of living in a first-world country. As of writing this blog, I’m a month into “no sugar.” It’s one of my most challenging nutritional adventures, ever!
7. Avoid Gluten. For me, this one is easy. For most, gluten can cause damage to the lining of your digestive tract, causing “leaky gut” which contributes to systemic inflammation and impairs your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. I’m hoping you’re reading a common theme, here: eat the stuff good for your gut; avoid the stuff that’s bad. Gluten is one of those foods with which you don’t want to “slip up” because it can affect your immune system for such an extended period of time. For some people who’ve been off of gluten for a while, in going back—or binging on a pizza—will experience symptoms like joint pain or brain fog. For me, it’s my neck and my pinkies. Yes, my pinkies.
8. Avoid Dairy. For many, dairy leads to a gassy experience within a couple of hours. For most, average-quality dairy is difficult enough to digest that you should consider taking it out of your diet altogether. Try alternatives. There are lots. One of my favorites is oat milk. An additional alternative to cow’s milk is goat’s or sheep’s milk.
9. Food Sensitivities. Some of the foods you are eating (in many cases, the foods you eat the most frequently), can cause an inflammatory response. Removing them for a period of time may make it easier to achieve your health and fitness goals. You can identify them with a simple blood test. There are two labs we use regularly for this test: Meridian and Vibrant.
10. IV Nutrient Therapy. Your body needs micronutrients to look better naked and perform at your best. You can accomplish some of this with nutrition, add supplements to fill in the gaps, but if you have an impaired or damaged digestive tract, you may have lower nutrient absorption through oral supplementation. Doctors can bypass this problems by delivering water soluble nutrients intravenously. I do this once a week with the ingredients directed by my doctor and my lab results. Reach out to Courtney@StarkLife.us for more info.
11. Sleep. Anything you can do to lower stress will result in better nutrient absorption. Finding ways to sleep longer and more deeply (assuming you’re a typical adult with compromised sleep) is a simple, inexpensive way to recover from stress and, therefore, improve your gut health.
12. Meditation. With the added benefit of greater emotional well-being, meditating has a similar outcome to improved sleep: it lowers stress and puts you in a parasympathetic state (“rest and digest”). Training and nutrition are important, but RECOVERY is just as important!
13. Chew your food. We’ve had Stark students and staff describing this tactic as life changing! Digestion starts in the mouth and chewing your foods optimally increases surface area for your digestive enzymes to do its work. Chew your food 20 times before swallowing. You’ll also likely eat less.
14. N.A.D. IV. The mitochondria is the powerhouse of your cells. One of the most powerful forms of mitochondrial support is the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) IV. NAD assist in the production of ATP, which is the energy currency of your cells. Your intestinal cells are very metabolically active and requires ATP to function!
15. Squatty Potty. Sitting on a toilet with your knees at the same height as your hips is not what nature intended and can cause problems like hemorrhoids or an incomplete bowel movement. I have these at my home and office. Get one! I even have a travel version.