Many of us suffer from chronic poor digestion. Everything from acid reflux, to stomach cramps, to constant cravings can be a sign we aren’t digesting our foods properly. When we don’t digest our foods properly we find they exit our bodies too fast or too slow. If our digestive processes are too fast we do not absorb all the nutrients we need. If they are too slow, then the foods can break down too much in our guts, encouraging bad bacteria and yeasts to thrive, which sends our bodies out of balance. In some cases a low carb, high fat diet can improve poor digestion.
Many high carb diets are shockingly low in fiber. The first step to transitioning onto a low carb, high fat diet, is to increase the amount of fiber we eat. Many high carb foods, in their whole form, are loaded with fiber, but usually the best sources of fiber we can get are low in carbs. Eat an abundance of leafy greens at every meal. Swap most of your simple starches for leafy greens.
If you need any reason to eliminate simple starches and sugars from your diet, let this be it: your gut is a playground for parasitic, bacteria-destroying yeasts. Candida overgrowth happens when our guts are full of simple sugars, which come from eating sugars and easily digested starches, such as those found in pasta. When candida overgrows, it kills our good gut bacteria, and even hijacks our nervous system, making us crave more sugars. It basically moves in and tells us to keep feeding it. Eliminate simple carbs and once the cravings stop your digestion will improve.
By now you should be finding your digestion is getting faster and faster. This is perfectly normal. When we eat an abundance of fiber it bulks out our intestinal contents. This pushes more food through. It also slightly irritates the lining of the intestine, causing peristalsis, the motion that pumps our intestines empty. However, the fastest gut transit is not always the healthiest. Think about what happens when we suffer diarrhea. Our gut transit is so fast that we miss out on vital nutrients we should be absorbing. Make sure to eat plenty of proteins and fats to slow your digestion down. Do not eat so many that it speeds up again because your gut is lined with fat. Eat enough to slow digestion down to a steady 4-12 hour process. This ensures the best absorption of nutrients.
Fermented foods are essential for good gut health. Most fermented foods are also great low carb, high fat foods. Consider eating fermented vegetables for a rich source of fiber that is also loaded with probiotics, which will help your gut bacteria rebalance.
Fermented dairy, such as traditional cheeses and yoghurts, is one of the reasons why high fat eating Mongolians have some of the lowest colon cancer rates in the world. It also contributes to the longevity of Icelandic men. And most pickles and brines help to break down the proteins and fats in your high fat foods, giving you a much more accessible source of nutrients which will also nourish your gut bacteria.
On any diet designed to promote digestive health, be sure to drink plenty of fluids. More often than not we confuse thirst signals for hunger signals. This results in us eating too much, too often, which overburdens our digestive tracts and worsens digestion. However, it also results in dehydration, which makes our digestion worse as we do not have the necessary fluids to run our bodily functions. We sometimes solve this by drinking fluids during meals, but this has its own problems. Drinking too much water can neutralize our stomach acid, making it less effective and worsening our digestion. Instead, drink water when you crave a snack. Usually cravings for snacks are actually thirst. By drinking half a glass to a glass of water every time we want to snack, we eliminate food cravings, hydrate, and don’t interfere with our digestion of food during meal times.
You don’t necessarily need to follow this diet forever. Once your gut bacteria is rebalanced you may find you can slightly increase your carb intake without negative effects. But don’t go back to your old diet, as eventually your digestive problems will return too.