The gut plays an essential role in our general wellbeing – from digesting the food we eat to supporting our immune system. Keep reading to find out why gut health matters and how you can improve your digestion.
It’s not only what we eat, but how we break down that food and absorb the nutrients that determine the state of health we have. Here are a few tips on how to improve your digestion:
1. Eat real whole food
The typical Western diet is high in refined carbs, saturated fat and food additives — it has also been linked to an increased risk of developing digestive disorders. Food additives, including glucose, salt and other chemicals, have been suggested to contribute to increased gut inflammation, leading to a condition called leaky gut. Therefore, eating a diet based on whole foods and limiting the intake of processed foods may be best for optimal digestion.
We can’t digest well if we are stressed or eating on the run. Try to be in a calmer environment when eating your food (i.e. not checking emails).
3. Chew properly
Inside our mouth are digestive enzymes that help break food down. If you guzzle your meal, it places an extra workload on the stomach to break the food down.
4. Get plenty of fibre
It’s common knowledge that fibre is beneficial for good digestion. Some good sources of soluble fibre include fruits, vegetables, oat bran, barley, seed husks, flaxseed, psyllium, dried beans, lentils, peas, soy milk and soy products.
A high-fibre diet has been linked to a reduced risk of digestive conditions, including ulcers, reflux, haemorrhoids, diverticulitis and IBS.
Prebiotics are another type of fibre that feed your healthy gut bacteria. Diets high in this fibre have been shown to reduce the risk of inflammatory bowel conditions. Prebiotics are found in many fruits, vegetables and grains.
5. Get the good bacteria
There are billions of various types of bacteria in our gut which help break down the food further, particularly fibre. They also help keep our bowel motions regular. Once we have absorbed all the nutrients from our food we need to effectively eliminate the wastes accumulated. Drinking plenty of water will also help promote regular bowel movements
We need a healthy liver to break down the beneficial fats in our diet and detoxify to keep us running clean. If we overload this with too many saturated fats, too much caffeine, sugar and alcohol, then it can’t do its job of detoxification well.
Poor health or long-term stress, some medications, even lack of adequate sleep may impact the balance of bacteria in our gut.