You are not what you eat. You are what you digest and absorb…
If your digestion is compromised, you might experience symptoms such as poor digestion, constipation, fatigue, bloating, sluggish metabolism, hormonal imbalance, dull skin, acne and more. The good news is there are plenty of simple and effective ways to optimise your gut bacteria. Don’t let your digestion dull your sparkle this festive season! Here, I’ve listed my top 10 favourite ways to support and heal your digestion and gut.
- Eat wholefoods: Avoid processed foods and stick to lean, organic proteins; healthy fats, fibre, plenty of greens, nuts, seeds and pulses.
- Chew well: The first step in the digestion process is chewing our food properly. When we chew our food, our saliva coats the food and sends signals to the brain to prepare for the digestive process. Once the food enters the stomach, hydrochloric acid and enzymes work to break it down into small particles, which travel to the small intestine and allow the nutrients to be absorbed into your bloodstream.
- Trial a gluten-free diet: I encourage people to cut the gluten for a trial period of two to four weeks. Try this and see how your body responds. In my experience, many report feeling lighter without gluten; their gut functions better and their energy starts to increase. If you do decide to go gluten-free, I recommend avoiding processed foods and sticking to a wholefoods diet. Some of my favourite gluten free grains are millet, quinoa, brown rice and buckwheat.
- Limit caffeine intake: Consuming too much caffeine can cause a spike in cortisol, so I recommend having one coffee a day, after breakfast and before 10am. You could also try swapping your daily coffee for a matcha with some gut loving coconut milk.
- Avoid processed food: This includes refined sugar, pre-packaged foods, soda, chewing gum and artificial sweeteners.
- Enjoy probiotic-rich foods: Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, miso, tempeh and kefir, all are great for the gut and reduce inflammation, support digestion and enhance metabolism.
- Optimise digestive enzymes: Having good amounts of hydrochloric acid in the stomach helps to break down food, thereby aiding digestion. I recommend sipping on two litres of water with a dash of apple cider vinegar throughout the day.
- Keep a 20-minute gap between eating and drinking: When you drink just before eating, it dilutes the gastric juices and inhibits proper absorption.
- Maintain a range of healthy bacteria: Your gut holds trillions of bacteria that help you to process your food, produce nutrients and fight disease. Take a good probiotic and focus on your wholefoods!
- Eliminate stress: This time of year can be manic! But try and keep calm. When released into the body in high amounts, the stress hormones – adrenaline and cortisol – cause the digestive system to shut down, thereby wreaking havoc on the body. I recommend taking at least 20 minutes each day to rest without distractions such as your phone or emails. Try restorative, calming practices such as getting to bed early, taking a bath, reading, walking etc.
- Go extra: If you feel the need for some extra support herbs that may aid digestive health include fennel, ginger, peppermint, dandelion root, gentian root, slippery elm, licorice root, meadowsweet, aloe vera, calendula, marshmallow root, goldenseal, St Mary’s thistle. It also may be beneficial to try digestive bitters or digestive enzymes before a meal.