How to improve digestive health
Many of us will experience digestive discomfort from time to time, but those having problems on a daily basis might have an undiagnosed health condition.
If you are concerned you may have an intolerance or digestive disorder, seeking medical advice is a good first step.
Next you may want to consider speaking to a dietary expert. A nutritionist can help you to better manage digestive problems and avoid foods that trigger symptoms.
Self-care is also important for long-term health. Below we list some expert advice on how to look after your gut and manage digestive problems:
Only eat when you are relaxed
Eating when stressed is a common cause of bloating. Taking a few deep breaths before eating a meal activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This replaces the arousal-based nervous system that is associated with stress. Once your system is calm, your digestion can work properly again and digestive discomfort will be reduced.
Leave 12 hours between dinner and breakfast
Every 72 hours, the cells that form the gut lining replenish. However, this repair cannot take place effectively if the gut is working hard on digestion at the same time. Leaving 12 hours between dinner and breakfast the next morning ensures your gut can focus on repair and replenishment without being interrupted.
Drinking water regularly throughout the day is key to gut health. The gut is a long slippery tube that needs to stay moist to ensure food moves through the system effectively. Hydrating with sugary drinks is not helpful, as they simply feed the gut less healthy bacteria. Add a slice of lemon to your glass of water if you’re not keen on the bland taste.
Raise your knees while on the loo
The human body is not designed to pass stools while sitting down – we are actually supposed to squat. This position helps to straighten the colon, which reduces pressure. To straighten your colon while on the loo, raise your knees and rest your feet on a small stool or a couple of books.
More fibre is not always helpful
Increased fibre intake is considered to be an effective way of improving digestion, but this is not always the case. Depending on your type of digestive complaint you will need to adjust your fibre intake accordingly. You should start by eating only fruit-based fibre, which is easier to digest than grains and cereal fibre. If this still doesn’t work you should seek nutritional advice.