Digestive Tips

Eat a balanced diet

Of course eating a well balanced diet that ensures an appropriate amount of fibre and enough vitamins, minerals and macronutrients is also vital, not only to our digestion but also to our overall health and well-being. With today's social media and internet craze the information we have access to about the right diet can be overwhelming and confusing. While some people may have an underlying health condition, allergy or intolerance that prevents them eating certain foods, most people should be able to have a full and varied diet which helps create an optimal and diverse microflora. It is estimated that 1 in 5 people have food intolerances, with lactose being the most common and is the only one that can truly be tested for. Read this great article by Dr Megan Rossi (The Gut Health Doctor) for more information about this and how best to work out if you have an intolerance. Furthermore if you are having digestive issues it is important to see your GP to have tests to rule out any underlying conditions (even something like thyroid issues can affect your digestion) and enlist the help of a good nutritionist or dietician.

Eat slowly and chew food thoroughly

Due to many of us being time poor, it is tempting to multi-task while we eat, rendering us not present and often wolfing down our food without chewing properly. We should be aiming to chew our food around 30 times. This can be less for softer foods and sometimes more for quite dense foods. Chewing food well allows enzymes in the mouth to begin breaking down food before it enters the stomach and helps our gastrointestinal (GI) tract prepare for digestion. Not chewing food well can result in indigestion and also prevent food being broken down properly which can lessen the absorption of nutrients. It can also lead to overeating as we may not feel full. If you are prone to reflux, bloating, loose bowels or even constipation you may benefit from paying more attention to how well you chew your food and take more time with your meals.

Don't overeat and listen to your satiety signals

Overeating can result in indigestion, bloating, nausea and just general discomfort. It can also contribute to weight gain and issues associated with this. Overeating can occur when you are not really paying attention and are distracted, eating when you are rushed and not chewing your food properly. To avoid overeating it is vial to listen to your body's satiety signals which alert you to when you are feeling full. Feeling full can take about 20 minutes after having eaten to register. Some things to consider are: not wating until you are ravenous to eat, taking your time and paying attention to what you are eating, stopping before you a completely full and keeping hydrated as thirst signals can often be mistaken for hunger signals.

Keep Hydrated

As we have just mentioned thirst signals can often be mistaken for hunger. So when you feel hungry really ask yourself if it is food or fluids your body is desiring. Getting enough fluids during the day is also important for good bowel movements and may be helpful if you are constipated. The large intestine draws water from your food waste so if you are not drinking enough your stools may become dry and hard and difficult to pass. Also if you are prone to loose stools dehydration could be an issue so make sure you also drink plenty of fluids. Additionally, fibre requires water to digest properly and to prevent stools becoming too bulky and dry. Keep this in mind especially if you are introducing more fibre into your diet.

Leave good time between each meal including snacks

The migrating motor complex (MMC) is a pattern of contractions that occurs in the GI tract during periods of fasting. It helps to sweep undigested material from the stomach and intestines, preventing harmful bacteria from colonising these areas. Leaving time between meals is important for the MMC to function properly. Eating frequently or snacking throughout the day can disrupt the MMC, leading to incomplete digestion and potential health issues. It is recommended to wait at least 3-4 hours between meals to allow the MMC to complete its cycle and maintain healthy gut function. By giving your body the time it needs to properly digest and eliminate waste, you can help prevent digestive discomfort and improve overall well-being.

Get moving

Exercise is not only beneficial for maintaining a healthy weight and boosting cardiovascular health, but it can also aid in digestion. Physical activity helps to stimulate the muscles in the digestive tract, helping move food through the system more efficiently. This is known as perilstalsis. Additionally, exercise can help reduce stress, which can aggravate digestive issues. Regular exercise helps to improve bowel regularity which may aid in the prevention of conditions like diverticulitis and hemorrhoids. Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine, even a brisk walk after meals, can have positive effects on your digestive system.

Manage stress

Managing stress is vital for maintaining good digestion. When we are stressed, our bodies produce hormones such as cortisol, which can disrupt digestive processes and can aggravate conditions like IBS. This can lead to symptoms such as bloating, constipation, and even diarrhea. Stress can also affect the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut, which can have negative impacts on our overall health. To manage stress and improve digestion, it's important to incorporate relaxation into our daily routines. Things like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can be helpful but anything that helps you to induce a state of relaxation is good. For some people this may be just listening to music, taking a walk in nature or painting for example.

Practice good sleep hygiene

Having good sleep hygiene is important for maintaining good health, and can even have an impact on digestion. A regular sleep schedule can help regulate the body's natural processes, including digestion. Poor sleep habits, such as staying up late or irregular sleep patterns, can disrupt the body's natural rhythms and lead to digestive issues such as acid reflux, constipation, and diarrhea. Additionally, eating a heavy meal close to bedtime can also disrupt sleep and lead to indigestion and aggravate reflux. It is important to maintain good sleep hygiene by establishing a regular sleep schedule, avoiding heavy meals before bedtime, stopping screen time an hour before bed having the room dark by reducing light from digital devices and practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation to promote restful sleep and healthy digestion.

Check out my video page for different things you can do at home to help.

Abdominal Massage for constipation and bloating
Abdominal Massage for constipation and bloating
Constipation relief
Constipation relief