Is your stomach troubling you?

If you are suffering from unwanted symptoms such as gas, bloating, discomfort, acid reflux, skin issues, brittle nails and hair, low moods, a lack of energy or focus, or poor sleep; the low performance of your digestive system could be the reason!

Water and digestive health

Our bodies are made up of around 70% water and this water is used for any number of important functions in our body: from regulating our temperature to lubricating joints; from flushing out waste or cognitive functions. There is no doubt that water is essential to our existence. However, the time at which you drink water can have a huge impact on your overall health and especially on the digestive system. In my previous article, I explained how important acidity is in the stomach and why it needs to be protected.

If you drink water with meals it’s alkaline properties neutralises the acid in the stomach which initiates a chain of misbalances leading to chronic conditions and poor digestive health long term.

The best time to drink water is around 30 minutes before a meal, so the water can be absorbed and utilised to produce stomach acid when you are eating.

If you feel thirsty during a meal then a slightly acidic drink such as water with lemon juice, wine or digestive tea would be a preferred option.

The full digestive process in the stomach takes around two hours and during this time, it is best to allow the body to use its energy for this process. Leaving the stomach to “rest” with no foods or drinks within this time. This will allow the nutrients to be processed in an optimal way, which over time eradicates most of the digestive symptoms.

Stress and digestive health

Our digestive system is closely linked to our brain, this explains how stress affects our digestion. The body has two modes that express our state. The first mode is “fight or flight”, during which we experience an increased heart rate, anxiety, high concentration, blood pressure swings and sweating. This mode prepares our body to fight and if we have a full stomach that will be flushed out the body to make it lighter (a familiar situation for people with IBS).

High-stress situations also suppress the production of hydrochloric acid, therefore eating at this time will result in food not being digested properly. Consequently, periostitis (involuntary bowel movements) is slowed leading to constipation, excessive gas and the sluggishness associated with a feeling of undigested food sitting in the stomach.

The second mode is “rest and digest”, during which the body extracts all the nutrients very efficiently, energy is preserved and repair and restoration are allowed to take place in the body.

The rest and digest mode is very important for the production of stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) which ensures the extraction of nutrients and optimisation of the following passages of the food’s digestion. To ensure this happens, prioritise your mealtime and give your body some time to switch off from “fight or flight” to “rest and digest”.

Other factors that lead to a poorly functioning digestive systems can vary from person to person, such as a lack of minerals (especially zinc), low stomach acid production, physiological abnormalities in the organs of the digestive system, SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth), dysbiosis, or an overgrowth of H. Pylori, mucus in the intestines (but especially in colon).

If you are concerned about your symptoms and would like to address it with professional support, please book a consultation with a qualified practitioner.

Nutritionist Resource is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by a listed nutritionist

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