I think I’m going to start a series of posts of recommendations. Stuff that works for me, that I use/eat/refer to/get inspired by. I’ve had a number of emails asking me to share this kind of thing. Let’s make it a Thursday thing for a while. Yes.

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Just as a note, if you’re looking for this stuff later, it will be filed on the “recommendations” page.

So, this week: what I use when my gut is playing up. I have a litany of stomach issues, many stemming from my auto-immune issues, some from just being an over-eater. It’s been called IBS over the years. I just don’t buy the IBS thing. Nobody just has a cranky gut. As in, it’s just cranky for the fun of it. There’s always something else behind it – a stress issue, an adrenal issue, a sugar addiction, an overly acidic system. Or, in my case, all of the above.

Now, I was going to apologise to anyone who’s eating. But if you’re reading this, you’re probably in my same boat – more interested in finding fixes for your pain than dancing around polite euphemisms. So…. shit, poo, week, diarrhea, squirts, farts… let’s get it out there.

Here’s my arsenal for my various crappy stomach states. Of course, I’m not prescribing anything here. I’m just saying, after much experimenting, the below tricks have come to work for me:

1. For when you’re bloated and gassy like Michelin Man: Mintec. These are capsules filled with peppermint oil that you can buy over the counter at all pharmacies and health food shops. Cheap, simple, natural. I take one before I go to bed when I’m in trouble, so I can sleep. The peppermint oil relaxes the muscles in the lower bowel and colon. Often I get bloated in the afternoon. If I’m going out for dinner, I take one just before heading out and it aids my digestion.  They leave you with great minty breath, too.

2. For when you’re stuck, plain and simple: Nature’s Sunshine Lower Bowel Stimulant. I use these for emergencies. When things haven’t budged for a while. The container says to take 1-4. I generally find 1 or 2 at night ensures action in the morning that’s not too dramatic, if you get my drift. I’ll take one the following night, too, to coax my system back into the habit of morning movement, but never more than two nights in a row. They’re all natural and from various barks and roots.

3. For keeping things smooth (#1) slippery elm powder: this is a little wonder bark, this one. I add a teaspoon to hot water (sometimes I had cinammon…the flavour is quite nice…a bit mapley) and it becomes a mucilaginous tea that soothes the stomach. It works for both constipation and diarrhea, and is also good for insomnia when taken at night. I think both Coles and Woolies sell it in their health food aisles.

4. For keeping things smooth (#2) psyllium husks: another mucilaginous drink when combined with water, these husks are super cheap (a few dollars for a big bag) and easy to add to a juice in the morning. They taste of pretty much nothing, so can be added to gluten-free muffins and breads (they make them less crumbly), or to porridge or muesli. You know Metamucil? Pretty much a psyliium husks with added bits (and more expensive). Since they’re pretty much pure fibre, they’re also good for balancing out GI and great if you’re detoxing, cos they “drag” everything through your system.

5. For keeping things smooth (#2) Intestamine: A great nutritional supplement containing slippery elm and glutamine and aloe vera to help maintain the integrity of the gut lining longterm. More of a product you’d take in conjunction with advice from a nutritionist.

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* I ingest one of the above most days, in the morning, just a teaspoon. I mix it up a little, so my system doesn’t get used to one or the other. With all three, it’s vital that you drink lots of water before and after because they absorb a lot. If you don’t drink water with them, they can have the opposite effect, turning into little hard balls of fibre (esp the husks)

6. For keeping things even smoother: chia seeds. I’ve written about these slippery little suckers before. They are really effective. Again, drink lots of water with them – they absorb 10-17 times their weight in water and will grind things to a halt if left unwatered. I sprinkle a teaspoon on my cereal, toss a few teaspoons in muffins or salads or stirfries.

7. For when I get a little off-track: breakfast yoghurt. A guy in a health food shop in Bangalow shared this one with me. Take half a cup of yoghurt, stir in a teaspoon of slippery elm powder and drizzle with a tablespoon of hemp seed oil. Add frozen berries to make it palatable.  I know it sounds seriously disgusting. It’s not all that bad. Hemp oil is a little like flaxseed oil – high in essential fatty acids etc. You could use flaxseed oil instead. With both oils (avail at health food shops; needs to be kept in the fridge and should NEVER be heated)  you should be drizzling on salads daily…they are your friends!!

8. To fire things up every day: lemon juice in hot water. Easy, simple, every morning as soon as I wake up. I keep a bowl of lemon wedges in my fridge ready to go. Organic apple cider vinegar is also good for when my system feels sluggish (and bogged down by too much fat, or stodge, when I’ve been eating not so well). I’ll take a capful in the morning (straight), or before a meal. It gets the gastric juices well fired up. I sprinkle the vinegar with the hemp seed oil on my salads.

9. I avoid or just don’t eat the following: gluten (cutting it out has changed my life), dried fruit, fermented soy products, too many beans and pulses, alcohol on an empty stomach, eating fruit with other foods, fruit salad (it’s best to eat one fruit at a time because different fruits digest at different speeds), brown rice that hasn’t been soaked overnight (more on this later), deepfried food, unsoaked nuts (again, more on this in a later post) and….sugar!

10. What about booze? I seriously limit it these days. When I do drink, I go for organic red wine, vodka and soda, the occasional martini and Campari with soda. Actually, Campari before a meal works really well for me…it gets my digestion flowing, which is what the 64 herbs and spices it’s made from are meant to do. It’s literally a tonic and not too high in alcohol.

11. And the stuff I just want to mention briefly: definitely take probiotics (I won’t go into detail on this front…a specialist should be advising you on which to take), yoga is  God-send, as is any kind of DAILY exercise (doesn’t matter what it is, just getting blood flowing through the stomach helps), fennel, chamomile and licorice root tea is ace (peppermint doesn’t agree with me for some reason) and also look out for Chi Nei Tsang, a Taoist stomach massage which, OMG, gets things so balanced. Not many people practice this…I know a woman called Laura at Gwinganna does…so if you come across it, share the deets here!

What about you? Share your tips now!!! And feel free to describe things in terms of poo, farts, shit, and other ablutive outbursts!

Have your say, leave a comment.