Good Gut Guide
Gurglings, rumblings, wind and poo! Digestion is not something most of us want to think about until it goes a bit wrong and our belly starts to tell us about it. We bombard our gut with any food that takes our fancy and seldom think of what happens to it once it passes our mouths.
Good digestion starts even before we take our first mouthful. The anticipation of a meal makes our mouth water and this production of saliva starts a whole orchestra of events designed to successfully break down, digest and absorb whatever food you fancy.
When it comes to nutritional therapy for digestive health, I often spend more time talking to my clients about how they eat, rather than what they eat during the initial consultation. If you tend to eat standing up, in the car, at your desk or on the hop, then your digestive system will be in a state of shock that you have been fed, and the orchestra starts to miss a note or two.
Here’s my checklist for good gut health:
- Get off the sofa and away from your desk and always sit at a table to eat your grub – no exceptions! When sitting at a table, we are in the right posture to optimise digestion. Sitting slumped over a tray or your desk is not.
- Take your time. It is not a race. Sparks are not meant to fly off your knife and fork. Try setting your cutlery down between mouthfuls. Although this will feel a little awkward to start with, it will certainly slow you down and soon feel like a normal habit.
- Eat enough soluble fibre to keep your bowel moving and good bacteria happy. Soluble fibre form fruit, vegetables, brown rice, flaxseed & pulses will help to soften stools and help things move through your bowel easier.
- Drink enough water. All this added fibre relies on your intake of water to do its job, so drink up. Aim for one and a half to two litres of pure, fresh, clean water every day.
- Get cultured…Fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut and kefir will help keep your digestive system in tip top health. Packed with beneficial lactic acid bacteria, these foods are natural probiotics. Check out Dearbhla Reynolds’s courses in fermentation and cultured food at The Cultured Club.
- Eat or drink something bitter at the start of each meal. Traditionally, bitter foods like lemon, chicory, grapefruit, rocket, kale, mustard cress or endive have been used to help stimulate digestion. Start your day with a mug of hot water & a slice of lemon, serve a cress/rocket/kale salad as a starter, or try digestive bitters in water to get your juices going.
- If digestion is your sore point, and you suffer from constipation, diarrhoea, heartburn, IBS or any other digestive complaints, try supplementing a good quality probiotic and a digestive enzyme for a month or so to give your digestion a helping hand.