Gut. This topic does not come up often in conversations, and, thus I hope you find this post useful. Our digestive system is essential to our overall health and well being. It is also a great warning system - when our bodies are in distress, our gut can tell us right away that something is off whether it is food, drugs, stress, or lack of sleep.
When I was younger, in my twenties, I never had a problem with my digestive tract or in simpler terms going to the bathroom. My system was brand new, and everything functioned like a clock. With age and lots of junk food, I clogged my intestines, and they've stopped performing as well. This resulted in me being bloated, constipated, uncomfortable, and irritated.
I was not enjoying my current state of being, and so I decided to pay close attention to what I was consuming. After just a few days, I noticed a few patterns. If I drank little water for a few days, my bowel movements became even less active. I know that for some people it is common sense - for me, it was a discovery. After this epiphany, I started to drink more water regularly. This helped me but did not eliminate all the issues. So I continued with my observations.
During that time I also read a few health articles. The posts shed more light on sugar which is a big enemy when it comes to one's health. Did you know what the American Heart Association "recommends no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar per day for women and 9 teaspoons (38 grams) for men." ?
I was in shock because I realized that just a few candies or even one could put me over this limit. That means forget about mocha, soda, sweet Asian sauces! Next time you pick up anything sweet check out the sugar content. Most of the time one item covers your daily dosage. So many people (including me) have/had no idea that just one soda drink is all the sugar you can have for a day. No additional cookie, chocolate or frappuccino.
I tried to limit my sweets as much as I could, but I could not cut it out completely. Not just yet, at least. As many experts suggest, start slow. Replace a few instances of bad behavior with a good habit and work your way through. Also, never give up if you get off course; acknowledge that you indulged a little and then get back to your plan. We all get sidetracked once in a while, and there is no reason to assume failure. As long as you are aware of what is happening and trying to take some steps towards better habits, you are doing fantastic. And though, in the beginning, everything seems hard, it will get easier with time.
Another "obvious" (to some people) problem I found was dairy. I love dairy products, and up until a few years ago I never knew that dairy could affect bowel movements. After this discovery, I cut out dairy, for the most part. I still consume a little bit of cheese on occasion. To my surprise, the most results that I saw after stopping dairy consumption, was on my face. I have sensitive skin, and so I thought that all my breakouts are due to pollution. To my surprise, without dairy, my face cleared out instantly. I am not sure how much good no dairy does for my digestive system, but it helped my skin.
Another change I implemented - I've started to drink green smoothies, mostly in the mornings. Do not cringe! They are not that disgusting. You need to get the right combination and proportions of greens. Spinach is a fantastic green that carries little taste. If you add banana, apple, and a little bit of lemon, you will get a delicious drink. So start slowly; and, do not go crazy green without any fruits - extreme measures will not work! Moderation and consistency is the key.
Sidebar: when you decide to do anything, whether starting or stopping, please do it gradually. There is no need to go overboard. The excess of you doing or not doing something will not get you faster to your goal — quite the opposite. The extreme methods will exhaust you, and you will be more likely to give up. A better idea would be to start slowly. Take your time but be consistent. Have you heard: "slow and stay wins the race?" This is precisely the case.
"If you would like to eat healthier, try replacing dessert with something else you enjoy, like fruit or yogurt, instead of seeing your diet as a form of punishment." https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/resolution.aspx
After I started to make the above adjustments to my diet, I noticed significant differences: less gas and more regular bowel movements. My stomach feels lighter and looks flatter! I feel great in the morning after my green smoothie, and it sets my stomach on the right track for the rest of the day. I still enjoy a small piece of candy or half a cookie, because I need some happiness in my life. Abstinence is not a must.