People often think that diet is the key to health but actually it’s digestion. Don’t get me wrong, diet is definitely important but you can be eating all the kale in the world, if your body is not digesting it properly you won’t be getting the nutrients from it and your body will soon suffer.
What is digestion?
Digestion is the breakdown of food into smaller particles that can be absorbed into the blood stream and utilised by the body for various processes.
The digestive system involves the gastrointestinal tract as well as the organs of digestion. The process has many stages, beginning in the mouth and ending at the anus, that’s a total length of around 9 metres.
Why is Good Digestion Important?
You could be eating nutrient dense foods, consuming the perfect amounts of micro and macro-nutrients but if you’re not digesting them well then, you won’t be reaping the benefits.
Short term this could lead to deficiencies, fatigue, poor concentration. Long term it could cause more serious issues such as osteoporosis, reduced growth in children, a weakened immune system making you more susceptible to illness.
“We are what we digest”.
~ Gray Graham, founder of the Nutritional Therapy Association
Signs of poor digestion
5 Ways to Improve Your Digestion
1. Educate Yourself
Learn what foods work for YOU; don’t follow other people’s diets. For example, a lot of people around me follow a vegan high carb diet and feel great on it, but that just doesn’t work for my body; I’m intolerant to certain beans and legumes, and it leaves me tired and bloated.
Figure out what works for you by keeping a food diary or simply being aware of what you have eaten and how it has made you feel.
|Onion soup||Bloated, pain|
|Blackberries & coconut yogurt||None. Felt good.|
2. Healing foods
Keep in mind that every one’s body is different. Some foods that are healing for some, like sauerkraut, may cause digestive issues in others.
Generally, foods considered very healing for the gut contain high fibre, anti-inflammatory properties or are rich in prebiotics (non-digestible food that helps feed the good bacteria) or probiotics.
High fiber foods
- Whole grains
- Fresh fruits especially when you eat the skin
- Dried fruit
- Beans & pulses
- Nuts & seeds
- Herbs & spices: especially turmeric taken with black pepper (to increase the amount the body can absorb by a whopping 2000%)
- Omega 3’s: oily fish, nuts, seeds
- Olive oil
- Certain fruit: strawberries, blueberries, cherries, oranges
- Certain vegetables: tomatoes, leafy greens
Best eaten in their raw (uncooked) state
- Apple skins
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Wheat bran
- Chicory root
It’s also a good idea to stay hydrated and sip water throughout the day to encourage toxins to be flushed out of your body.
3. Slow Down
Since digestion begins in the mouth, it’s important that you allow your body time to produce the required enzymes to break down your food. Moreover, allow yourself time to actually enjoy and digest the food you are receiving.
SIT, CHEW and ENJOY.
4. Avoid Triggers
I’m not talking guns, although come to think of it, please do avoid those triggers too… Anyway…I’m talking about foods and drinks that commonly ‘trigger’ digestive problems.
For example: alcohol, caffeine, smoking, red meats, processed/preserved/modified foods.
Don’t worry, I know it’s not realistic to say you can NEVER drink or eat cake, so instead just be mindful of how much of these foods you are consuming and what your ‘safe level’ or ‘tolerable amount’ is. For me, I can have 1 large glass of wine and not suffer too much. Any more and body will severely punish me the next day.
5. Move More
Ever noticed how a walk after a big meal makes you feel 100 times better?
Exercising, even gentle walking, engages and strengthens muscles around your colon. Essentially, moving speeds up your digestion by encouraging food to pass through your colon and out of your body.
Hope this helps you and offers some help. x
Happiness for me is largely a matter of digestion.
*Disclaimer: If bloating, constipation or pain persists for more than 2 weeks seek medical advice. You may have a more complex issue like IBS (like me), IBD etc causing your symptoms.