For some of us, digestive discomfort has become part of life and we just seem to put up with it because that is how it has always been, but trust me, it doesn’t have to be that way. Small, simple changes can make a really big difference to your gut function and therefore how well you feel every day.
Here are my top 3 tips:
1. Chew your food
We are often in such a rush trying to fit 101 things into a day that we forget to actually enjoy the meal we have sitting in front of us. We scoff it down within a few minutes, leaving us feeling bloated and uncomfortable. Chewing is the first part of the digestive process and if we send big chunks of food into our stomach, the rest of the digestive tract has to work much harder to extract the nutrition from that food. When larger molecules of food arrive in the large intestine, they are fermented producing excess gas, which is often the cause of your bloating. Chewing your food is arguably one of the simplest ways to reduce bloating.
You can do this by:
- Putting your fork down between each mouthful.
- Chewing your food and swallowing it before you put the next mouthful in.
- Timing yourself eating a meal and aiming to take longer than 10 minutes to finish – you might find this more challenging than you think.
2. Increase good bacteria in your diet
The quality and type of bacteria present in your digestive tract is crucial for good gut function and health. The average person has between two and four kilograms of bacteria in their large intestine and these bacteria are very important for your immune system, weight management, nutrient absorption, mood and much more. Things such as processed, sugary food, stress, caffeine and alcohol can all upset the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut. It is important to add good bacteria back into your digestive system via your diet.
Aim to include some of these good bacteria containing foods into your daily diet:
- Unsweetened natural yoghurt.
- Fermented foods such as Sauerkraut, Kim Chi, Kombucha and Miso (look for these in your local supermarket).
- Talk to your dietitian about a probiotic supplement that might be right for you.
3. Deal with stress
Stress is one of the most common causes of digestive disturbances in my clients today. This is because our stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, divert our blood supply from the digestive tract and reduce the efficiency of the break down of food, leaving us feeling sluggish and uncomfortable. Whether you are worried about a deadline, running around after your kids or fighting with a colleague, all of these examples are day-to-day things that can impact on the function of your digestive system if not dealt with effectively.
Here are some things to think about when you are stressed:
- Breathe – deep diaphragmatic breathing helps the body relax and support the digestive system in breaking down food and digesting it. Try taking 3 deep, slow breaths when you feel overwhelmed or stressed about something, it really can help.
- Reframe problems – try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than fuming about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to be more mindful, listen to your favourite radio station, or enjoy some alone time. Stressing won’t help you get there any quicker.
- Exercise – Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress, but you don’t have to spend hours in a gym to experience the benefits. Just about any form of physical activity can help relieve stress. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins that boost your mood as well as providing a well needed distraction from life’s stresses.
Sometimes, it can be more serious than this and we may need to alter your diet more specifically to find out what is going on. If you have trouble with your degestive system – get in touch. I can absolutely help 🙂