Gut Instinct

Spring clean your health

By Deb Dittner

yoga stretchAhhh, spring!!

The days are getting longer. The sun is shining brighter and higher in the sky.

These changes certainly brighten your day (no pun intended!) but you may need to do more to increase energy, balance your hormones, and heal your gut.

Wellness consists of small daily lifestyle changes to get and keep you on track with your goals.

Start your day by completing one simple undertaking that likely will lead to the completion of others throughout the day.

Attend to simple tasks such as making your bed, repeating a positive affirmation or mantra each morning before heading out the door, completing a five-minute or longer yoga or stretching practice (there are some great apps for this as well), writing in your journal, meditating, or reading a chapter in the latest best-selling novel.

This morning ritual of completing one task followed by another and then another provides you with overall encouragement and a sense of pride.

So how did you sleep last night?

Sleeping less than six hours nightly contributes to chronic inflammation, insulin resistance, and increased risk for obesity, cardiovascular disease, and Type 2 diabetes.

This lack of sleep may leave you feeling tired and moody throughout the day. By starting your day with a complete protein breakfast (lean meats, eggs, or protein shake) will increase the chemicals in your brain to improve mood and later sleep.

Serotonin makes you feel happy and stimulates you throughout the day. Serotonin then turns into melatonin, which aids in sleep at night.

Hippocrates said “All disease begins in the gut” and research now is showing how critical this is to today’s health issues.

There are both good bacteria and bad bacteria in your gut. The gut also is responsible for your immune system.

By treating your gut with whole, nutrient-dense foods and adding a fermented food daily will result in fewer digestive issues, improved skin, and increased energy. Incorporate a couple forkfuls of sauerkraut or a few sips of kombucha daily to enjoy the benefits.

Hail to hydration

Your body consists of more than 70 percent water in the form of blood, excretion and metabolism.

Sufficient hydration helps balance the body by providing your muscle’s the ability to contract and relax, maintains proper bodily temperature, keeps you focused, and lubricates the joints for flexibility.

Remember to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water every day as a rule of thumb. I encourage you to fill either stainless-steel or glass water bottles (no plastic please) at the start of the day and then drink all before the end of the day to make sure you get all you need for proper hydration.

Nourish your body with clean, nutrient-dense foods. What you put into your body will determine how well it will perform for you on a daily basis.

Daily detox helps the liver function and keeps you ready for action. You don’t need fancy cleanses or detox programs.

Eliminate late-night snacks. You regenerate best between the hours of 11 p.m. and 3 a.m., but if your body is too busy digesting foods at this time, the detoxification process will be disturbed.

Aim for approximately 12 hours between last and first meal of the day and a bedtime of 10 p.m.

On arising, add lemon to your morning water and continue drinking this throughout the day. The phytonutrient d-limonene in lemon aids in detoxifying liver enzymes.

In days of past, your ancestors were physically active in search of food and shelter, and staying safe from the elements and uncertainty. Life today is much different.

Many of you sit at a desk or in the car for a good portion of the day, exerting little energy. Sitting is now considered the new smoking and associated with many chronic health issues.

So what can you do?

Simple lifestyle changes create great benefits. Appropriate hydration will also cause you to get up every couple hours to use the facilities.

Setting an alarm on your phone every half hour to stretch (there’s an app for that too) will also be helpful.

Other possibilities are to enjoy a workout class either before work or after or a walk during lunch.

• Deborah Dittner is a family nurse practitioner and health consultant. Her mission is to transform as many individuals as possible through nutrition and lifestyle changes. For more information, check out her website at or contact her at 518-596-8565.