How are your lower abdominals? Part 2: Gut Health
In part 1 we discussed the importance of body fat to flattening your lower abdominals. In this part we will discuss the importance of gut health to flat abdominals.
As the abdominals lie on top of large parts of intestinal tract a blockage, swelling or inflammation within the intestinal tract will cause an expansion in the intestine and mechanically stretch out the overlying abdominals. Alternatively pain signals from the intestines (and other organs) can refer pain signals in to the abdominal muscles that are fed by the nerves at the same level.
Constipation based blockages are most prevalent in the ascending and descending colons. These can be felt in the lower quarters of the abdominal region. Quite simply if you have a blockage (e.g. constipation) or large amounts of inflammation in your digestive tract (e.g. irritable bowel syndrome) you will struggle to flatten your abdominal area until these issues are sorted.
The major causes of constipation are dehydration and lack of fibre. This can be remedied by drinking 0.0333 x your body weight in kg. In terms of fibre intake look to eat as many fruits, vegetables and grains as your metabolic type allows. If like me you do best on a higher protein diet then you may need to consume large quantities of non-starchy vegetables like spinach.
Inflammation and swelling in other organs, cysts and even tumours can also cause this type of distension. If you are at all concerned you should get yourself checked out by your GP. I have had several clients come in with lower abdominal distension that I have referred to their GP’s on the basis of unusual lumps under their abdominal region. Several have been found to have cysts and more serious problems.
One of the major sources of gut inflammation is food intolerances. The most common culprits are wheat (specifically all gluten containing grains and products), dairy, soy and corn. In my experience I have had only a handful of clients who can tolerate wheat and dairy well. There are a multitude of reasons for this but in brief most people tend to have wheat and dairy for breakfast as a cereal, then again for lunch as a sandwich and sometimes at dinner as well as pasta with cheesy sauce. They then drink alcohol, a lot of which contains gluten and snack on wheat-based snacks like nutrigrain. This over exposure leads to food intolerances and then your body attacks the foods when they are eaten leading to more inflammation and bloated abdominals.
To address food intolerances and gastrointestinal inflammation, first of all eliminate all wheat and gluten containing grains from your diet and all dairy products. This means no standard bread sandwiches, pasta, cakes, milk or cheese. You need to check packaging and see whether they contain gluten or dairy. Most people will find this helps them feel much better.
Whilst doing this complete a food diary to allow you to monitor how foods affect you. This will allow you to identify any foods that aggravate your gastrointestinal symptoms. This will provide you with valuable feedback and you can then eliminate these foods and check for improvement. With correct treatment you will be able to eat these foods again once your gut heals.
Following these steps will give you some improvement however the management of gut health needs to be customised to the individual. It can be a long process. It really is best to be guided by a naturopath, nutritional therapist or similarly qualified individual.
Specific details on how food intolerances occur and how vicerosmotatic reflexes occur have been omitted to improve the ease of reading. If you would like to discuss any details of this article please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org