To mark Nutrition and Hydration Week, from 12 to 18 March, we’re inviting you to pause and take a look at what you’re eating and drinking and, in particular, it’s impact on your digestive health.
Today’s modern lifestyle comes with some uncalled negatives like high stress levels, less sleep, artificially processed food etc. All these things might sound small, but they have a highly damaging effect on our bodies. Many of us don’t give much thought to our consumption habits.
We might grab a sandwich on our way to work or gobble down our dinner while watching TV, or alongside a glass or two of wine in the evening. Due to our fast-paced routines, it is quite difficult to maintain a healthy eating schedule or healthy eating habits. However, remember it is very important to have good digestive health. As we all know ‘We are what we eat’. Digestive health is of vital importance. We can maintain a good digestive system by practising a sound eating routine. Our digestive system is of utmost importance. It prepares food for the whole body so that it can be absorbed by every cell for functioning.
With each passing day, we might not even notice that something is going wrong with our body until one day we feel a little off. Why wait for that day to come? We should all practice a healthy eating routine to avoid any risks of getting digestion related problems.
It is a fact that small changes in your daily eating routine can benefit you immensely. Not everyone follows good eating practices, the reason being, some people are simply not aware of it’s benefits. On, contrary, others do not have time to practice them. According to NHS, out of 10, 4 people suffer from one digestive problem like constipation, heartburn, bloating etc. If you are getting any symptoms like Diarrhoea, constipation, indigestion, Jaundice, rectal bleeding, it is most likely that your suffering is due to bad digestive health. In that case, one must immediately consult a specialist. Let us discuss some habits to be inculcated. Here are some simple ways that you could improve your digestive health today:
1) Don’t eat while stressed
Eating while stressed can lead to bloating. A way of combating this is to pause and calm down before starting to eat your meal. This helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is essential for proper digestive function. Stress also causes people to overeat, hence gaining weight!
Stress can play a major role in your digestive health. Digestion is controlled by the enteric nervous system. When we are stressed our nervous system shuts down the blood flow to the digestive system causing it to become sluggish.
Inflammation of the gastrointestinal system can occur, the esophagus can go into spasm and you may develop diarrhea or constipation.
Moderate exercise has been shown to help maintain a healthy digestive system as it causes a release of endorphins which help to combat stress. Relaxation therapies including yoga and meditation can also help.
2) Drink more water
Drinking more water improves gut health because it keeps our intestines slippery and performing well. It is recommended to drink at least 2 litres of water every day. Avoid drinking sugary drinks though, as these can feed unhelpful gut bacteria and cause them to proliferate.
3) Listen to your body
If you are experiencing digestive problems, it is your body trying to tell you that something is not right. If you listen, you might be able to make some simple changes that will alleviate the problem or lessen it. For example, your body may not tolerate gluten well – a condition known as Coeliac Disease – and by cutting it out of your diet, you may feel a whole lot better. It is estimated that 1 in 100 people have Coeliac Disease, but under 25% of people have been properly diagnosed.
4) The truth about poo
There is a misconception that you need to poo daily to have a healthy digestive system. Normal bowel activity is classed as anything more than three times a week and less than three times a day. As long as you pass them easily, there is no right or wrong consistency for your poo. As humans, our bodies are designed to poo in a squatting position. If you struggle, try raising your knees higher than your hips, which will stretch your colon and reduce pressure.
5) Avoid over-processed foods
Protecting your gut bacteria is the key to good health. Processed food often contains high levels of sugar, fat and preservatives which can adversely affect gut bacteria. It is better to limit your intake of processed foods or to avoid them altogether.
6) A little salt is good
Many digestive problems are linked to low levels of stomach acid. You can boost your production of stomach acid by adding some high-quality unprocessed sea salt, such as Himalayan salt, to your diet. This will give your body the chloride it needs to create hydrochloric acid. Alternatively, try eating sauerkraut which is a highly effective stimulant for your body to produce stomach acid. However, it is important to not exceed the recommended levels of salt per day on a regular basis, as this can lead to a number of other health issues, and can cause your body to be dehydrated.
7) Limit medications
Some types of medication, particularly antibiotics, but also blood pressure drugs, pain relievers and some anxiety drugs, interfere with the digestive process and can affect gut bacteria. This doesn’t mean you should avoid taking necessary medication but talk to your GP about alternatives that might have less of an impact on your gut, or discuss ways of preventing stomach problems with a specialist gastroenterologist.
8) Chew your food
In today’s fast-paced world, many of us are failing to chew our food properly. This can lead to our digestive system having to work harder. Try taking smaller mouthfuls and chewing your food thoroughly.
Working with a specialist that can promptly diagnose and monitor your symptoms, will give you the best chance to get back to feeling your best.
Following all the above tips will definitely help you develop better digestion health. If you are still not satisfied and wish to consult our specialist, consult us here and we will be able to help you with your problems.