Turns out our meals can do more than just satisfy our hunger and supply us with the fuel we need to keep going. By eating the right foods, we can actually train our bodies to deal with this entire ‘process’ a whole lot more effectively. That’s right, I’m talking about digestion.
Who better to learn from than someone who battled terrible digestive problems for years - only to turn it around once and for all...with the power of food!
Kristen Jakobitz is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach specializing in weight management, digestive health, and diabetes prevention methods that help busy professionals get to the root cause of their health concerns so they can feel more energized and confident in their body.
Kristen’s health problems started when she was in 1st grade. She spent years going from doctor to doctor getting prescriptions without ever getting any relief. By the time she was 13, she was overweight, tired all the time, addicted to sugar & carbs, and worst of all she was battling terrible digestive issues. It wasn’t until she discovered what was really wrong with her and how to use a handful of superfoods to heal her stomach at the age of 30 (something that no doctor she went to even knew about) that she was finally able to transform her body and health. Within 6 months she had lost 40 pounds, was completely symptom free - no more bloating, gas, acid reflux, or constipation - and the best part was that she felt amazing without much effort. That discovery motivated her to go back to school to become a Health Coach so she could share her knowledge and spread hope for others struggling with a similar situation.
Kristen now offers programs to hundreds of people all over the world, who want to lose weight or get rid of their unexplained digestion issues and they are not getting any help from their doctors or relief from the prescription medications they are using.
In the midst of the current food trend towards all things fermented, and just when every health coach on the block is advising us on how to “heal your gut” with food...I wanted to get advice on someone who actually HAD digestive issues in the first place, and who had found proven strategies to fix them...
Q: What are your top 3 foods for better digestion?
Three foods I personally love are kimchi (which is a combination of cabbage, carrots, onions, garlic, ginger, and hot red pepper), milk kefir, and sauerkraut. All of these are probiotic-rich foods that are great for aiding digestion.
Q: When you say “digestion” - what exactly do you mean?
In a nutshell, digestion refers to the process of breaking down food that is eaten into smaller, more usable parts that can be processed and turned into vitamins, minerals, and energy for our body to utilize every day.
Q: What’s a food (or foods) to stay away from if you have digestive issues?
That’s a great question. It really depends on the individual and the severity of their digestive issues when it comes to removing foods from the diet. If symptoms are mild, there’s a greater likelihood they can be overcome more easily, and perhaps without having to remove any foods, than if the person is showing more severe signs of food intolerance. For example, when clients come to see me, we usually start by looking at their eating patterns and identifying whether they include the most common foods associated with food sensitivities, which are: wheat (gluten), dairy, eggs, soy, caffeine, chocolate, citrus, tomatoes, and nuts. If they notice symptoms of digestive distress after eating any of these foods, we experiment with taking them out of their diet for a short period of time to see if they notice a difference in how they feel. If they don’t experience improvement, then we explore more individualized gut health protocols.
Q: What are some signs and symptoms that you have digestive issues, and how should you interpret these?
I think it really comes down to being in tune with your body and taking note of how certain foods make you feel. If you notice certain foods start to make you feel odd after eating them that may be enough of a reason to change your eating patterns. Some of the more common signs and symptoms associated with digestion difficulties are: gas, bloating, acid reflux (heartburn), chronic diarrhea or constipation, and loose stools following pain in the abdomen. What many people may not be aware of are things like allergies, arthritis, yeast infections, diabetes, and unexplained weight gain can also be associated with an imbalance of the bacteria in our gut so it’s important to keep that in mind if you begin to experience the onset of these symptoms.
Q: How important is WHEN you eat for good digestion?
This will vary from person to person. I’ve worked with some people whose digestive process works better having three larger meals per day, while others do well splitting their meals up into six smaller portions (3 meals + 3 snacks) throughout the day. If you prefer splitting up meals, aim for about 3 hours in between each meal.
Q: Are there rules in terms of mixing certain types of foods that are crucial or detrimental for good digestion?
Different types of food digest at different rates within in our body so it’s best to try and eat the most watery foods in your meal first because they will pass through the digestive process the quickest. As a general rule, carbohydrates move quickly through the stomach, protein takes a bit longer, and fats take the longest time to work their way through the digestive system. So basically any quick digesting foods like fruit, cooked and raw vegetables, and starches are best eaten before the meat and fat in your meal, if you can help it. People who have a sensitive digestive system may be more likely to experience the uncomfortable side effects of gas, bloating, or indigestion if slower digesting foods are eaten first. Everyone’s digestive process will handle food combinations a little bit differently. Listen to your gut is my motto ☺.
Q: Drinking with food - yay or nay? And if yay - what?
This question comes up a lot. The main discussion centred around this topic is whether the acidic fluid in our stomach becomes diluted when we drink water along with a meal, thereby hindering the digestive process. I haven’t found conclusive studies showing natural stomach acid levels were upset by drinking water during meals; however, I see no harm in limiting water intake during meals and keeping it as a between-meal activity. I’ve personally experienced better digestion by doing this.
In terms of what to drink with food, purified water would be the cleanest and most preferred option. Sparkling water, mineral water, herbal teas, and decaffeinated teas/coffee are also good options. Some kinds of alcohol, like red wine, some white wines, and beer, do have some health benefits but everyone’s body reacts differently to alcohol consumption so it is really a personal decision as far as that goes.
Q: Any recipes you’d recommend?
Absolutely, here are a few of my favourites. All of them are posted on my website. I’m adding new ones all the time, so be sure to stop by and subscribe to my email list so you don’t miss them!