Your digestive tract is so much more than a pathway to get food from A to B. The gut is a powerhouse that not only affects your physical wellbeing, but your happiness levels too. Microbiologist Kiran Krishnan famously said: ‘I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable saying that virtually 80% of your mental state, well-being and happiness is controlled by how happy your gut is.’
Having a healthy gut is correlated with having a strong immune system, increased energy levels, maintaining a healthy weight and it even links to our ability to deal with stress and anxiety.
Here are our top 10 tips for digestion:
1. Increase soluble fibre. Soluble fibre is found in vegetables, lentils, beans, oats and seeds. It reduces constipation and provides a food source for friendly bacteria. It is important to increase fibre gradually to prevent side effects such as bloating and abdominal pain. Good soluble fibre sources include fruit, vegetables, oats, nuts and seeds. Ground flaxseeds are an excellent form of soluble fibre. The outer husk contains soluble fibre and the inner husk is rich in anti-inflammatory essential fatty acids, which may help with abdominal pain. Try adding these seeds to smoothies.
2. Increase probiotic and fermented foods. Probiotics have been shown to improve symptoms of IBS, especially abdominal pain. Good sources include live yoghurt, cottage cheese, kefir and sauerkraut.
3. Avoid fizzy drinks, alcohol and caffeinated drinks. These can all irritate the gut.
4. Drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Water helps to prevent constipation.
5. Try peppermint tea. Peppermint can reduce abdominal pain.
6. Eat foods containing plant enzymes. The pineapple plant contains high levels of a digestive enzyme called bromelain. Bromelain is a protease enzyme, which means that it aids in protein digestion. Eating a little pineapple before or after large meals may help digestion.
7. Avoid eating large meals. Aim to eat 3 smaller meals and 2-3 snacks.
8. Chew food well. Chewing food well increases the surface area of the food allowing digestive enzymes to function more effectively.
9. Eat sitting down in a relaxed environment. When we are stressed our digestive system shuts down, causing digestive problems.
10. Exercise can improve digestion. Aim for 30 minutes of gentle exercise such as walking, swimming or yoga most days of the week.
So there you have it – our top 10 tips for digestion. A healthy body is a healthy mind so try incorporating some of our tips to improve your gut health.
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