I want to set it straight today with the truth about greens and gut healing.
I noticed recently on a super popular “digestive” Instagram account where she talked about greens and veggies and why she doesn’t include them in her diet.
On the one hand, I get it. I, too, have been there – many times.
But on the other hand, I think it’s irresponsible because it’s vilifying something that, for the majority of people, is healthy, good, and right. It’s also a sure sign that when someone says they are “doing so well and healed” that they are likely not so all those “gut healthy” and healing recipes and products they are sharing (and shilling) you need to proceed with caution on.
Okay, I’m done ranting to that end, but I have one more very important thing to tell you (on the other side of the equation) before I share the truth about greens and gut healing.
Whenever I show meat on my Instagram or in other places that relate to gut health and gut healing, always – never fails, at least one person tells me how “unhealthy” I am and that if I am going to be talking about gut health and gut healing, I should not feature meat. Because, you know, being Vegan or Vegetarian is the only way to heal the gut (insert sarcasm).
I desperately wanted to heal my gut on a Vegetarian diet. I even wrote an entire post, questioning whether or not I could. And in the end, I learned that I could not heal my gut on a Vegetarian diet).
Despite the fact that I am not Vegan or Vegetarian, Paleo or Keto (I am nothing – I follow zero standard diet / healing protocol), I now firmly believe that greens are an incredible food.
When you see my meat-only pictures or veg-only pictures, do not assume anything.
We must stop the judgments in the healing community.
Second rant over. Now I’m going to give you the goods.
The Truth About Greens and Gut Healing
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In 2013, I wrote a blog post called, “Is Fiber Helping or Hurting Me?” And in the post I hit on every last thing about fiber you’re probably thinking and feeling. In a nutshell,
Ugh. Why am I so bloated an miserable? I’m only eating broccoli, salads and beans.
The reason extends far beyond fiber for many of you. In case you missed my post on many of these reasons, you should first read, “Can I Eat These Top 12 Fall Vegetables?”
But I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about all the good that greens (in particular vs. beans – I’m not focusing on them today) contain.
Why are greens so good for us?
The very first time it really sunk in just how good greens are for us was when I read Sara Gottfried’s The Hormone Reset Diet. In the book, she recommends getting 35 – 45 grams of fiber per day (for women) because increased dietary fiber improves the ability of the liver to clear excess estrogen.
- Vitamins (namely A, K, C, and E)
- Minerals (namely calcium, magnesium, potassium, and manganese)
- natural fiber (It’s the natural fiber part that can get Gutsy women stuck since it’s role is in regulating digestion, aiding bowel health, and managing weight.)
Additionally, Dr. Sara Gottfried says, “Moreover, there’s been some research proving that eating more fruit and vegetables can actually change and improve skin tone.” (Ladies, this is why I always say that you can buy all the Beautycounter in the world, but your skin health will always root back to the gut. Care for the gut and use Beautycounter to enhance all that work.)
I followed Dr. Sara’s protocol for a pound of green veggies each day and, when I chose the ones that worked for me at that point of my healing journey, it was incredible. It worked wonders for my digestion, and it was then when I realized that if you do greens right it is possible to do greens daily.
Which greens are more subjective during deep periods of healing?
Not all greens are created equally, especially not for those undergoing a deep period of gut healing.
In most research out there, the greens that are hardest to digest for those with gut issues either are high-FODMAP and/or contain insoluble fibers.
Here are some of those greens:
- Arugula (insoluble fiber)
- Asparagus (high-FODMAP)
- Broccoli (stalks) (high-FODMAP + insoluble fiber)
- Brussels sprouts (high-FODMAP + insoluble fiber)
- Celery (insoluble fiber)
- Collards (insoluble fiber)
- Green beans (insoluble fiber)
- Leek bulbs (high-FODMAP + insoluble fiber)
- Lettuce (insoluble fiber)
- Jerusalem Artichokes (high-FODMAP)
- Kale (insoluble fiber)
- Peas (high-FODMAP + insoluble fiber)
- Snow Peas (high-FODMAP + insoluble fiber)
- Spinach (insoluble fiber)
- Sugar Snap Peas (high-FODMAP + insoluble fiber)
- Watercress (insoluble fiber)
Note: You should also consider at least paying somewhat attention to high-oxalate greens (and foods in general). HERE is a great list/resource.
Which Greens Might Be Tolerated During Deep Periods of Healing?
Despite the fact that greens are so good for us, some might be better for you right now than others.
Here are some low-FODMAP greens that are more tolerated than others:
- Arugula – low-FODMAP
- Bok Choy – low-FODMAP
- Broccoli (head only) – low-FODMAP
- Celery – low-FODMAP
- Collard Greens – low-FODMAP
- Cucumber – low-FODMAP
- Fennel (leaves only) – low-FODMAP
- Green Beans – low-FODMAP
- Kale – low-FODMAP
- Leek (leaves only, up to 2/3 cup) – low-FODMAP
- Lettuce (radicchio, iceberg, romaine, butter) – low-FODMAP
- Spinach – low-FODMAP
- Spring onion (green part only) – low-FODMAP
- Swiss chard – low-FODMAP
- Watercress – low-FODMAP
- Zucchini – low-FODMAP
The ones I relied on during periods of deep gut healing were: arugula, green beans, Romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, and watercress.
What Does it Mean if I Can’t Digest Any Greens?
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If you can’t digest any greens (and listen, I realize that’s entirely possible), then here are a few things it means and some things you can do/try:
- You’re not preparing them properly. Almost never will you be able to eat green vegetables in the raw. Now might not be the time to dunk mounds of broccoli in olive oil. Prepare your greens by keeping the following in mind:
- When you’re eating greens with skins and seeds, remove them (i.e. zucchini).
- Take the stems off (i.e. broccoli).
- Sauté in an oil.
- Cut, slice, mash, and even juice the greens to make them smaller (easier for digestion).
- Portion size. You don’t need to eat 7 cups of any one green in any one sitting. Try a little here and a little there; mixing-and-matching as you go.
- You might just need a “Greens Assistant.” Oh hello best Greens Assistant ever, Mr. Digest Gold. I have been using this assistant for a very long time now, and she’s the best. She’s a high potency formula that supports optimal digestion of carbs, fat, fiber and protein. If you want to eat all the greens, try giving her a whirl (if you haven’t already).
- You’re not healed. That’s right, you are not healed. If you can’t tolerate any greens, then you’re absolutely not ready for all the things (or really much of anything), and you need to head back to the drawing board. I was there; I was you at one point. What did I have to do? First, I had to follow my 21-days in The Gutsy Girl’s Bible: an approach to healing the gut. Then I had to really dig deep to understand what was going on and why I couldn’t tolerate anything. I needed changes in diet, lifestyle, supplements, medication, and more.
The truth about greens and gut healing is that they should not be glorified for their powers to magically heal everyone in all instances at all times, but they should also not be vilified as the only means for keeping a Gutsy girl miserable, bloated, and sick.
Removing greens should only be temporary (unless you have an allergy, of course) because a permanent removal of them means something is wrong.
There is a reason this quote is so popular,
But only you can know where you’re at today. Take this information and start where you are, with what you have, and do what you can.
I’m off to find some greens.
You will heal. I will help.