One of the most common complaints I hear from clients is around poor digestion; sore stomachs, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, flatulence, and reflux. Poor digestion is not only a matter of discomfort and slight embarrassment, our gut health has actually been linked to our brain, heart, liver, and hormone health. Not to mention, no one wants a puffed up stomach while walking along the beach on their summer holiday!
Here are four tips I have put together to help you reduce the bloat and stomach upset this summer...
Chew your food
Countless clients come to see me with bloating, reflux, or constipation all to find out that they eat way to fast.
There are only two places that digestion occurs within the body. First is the mouth. Digestion commences by chewing, which signals the enzymes in our saliva to break down our food. But once food has passed through the throat, the second (last!) place food can be digested is in the stomach. If the stomach receives large chunks of food, it is going to have a heck of a time breaking the food down into liquid form to be passed into the intestines for absorption into the blood stream. The reason digestion starts in the mouth is because our teeth are able to break large food particles down more effectively than digestive enzymes. I can’t stress enough how important it is that you take advantage of your teeth during the digestive process, and give your stomach a break from trying to masticate a piece of steak!
Stop drinking water…
during meal times (drink plenty between meals). The stomach requires a very specific pH level to break down food during digestion. Unfortunately, water dilutes our stomach acid (pH), inhibiting the optimal assimilation of food. Although it’s getting warmer and the desire to quench your thirst is increasing, try to obtain your water intake between meals and refrain from drinking water during meals.
We’ve all heard of these "wonder" supplements, or perhaps instead you’ve heard of ‘probiotic yoghurt.’ Either way, there is a lot of hype around these helpful microorganisms for good reason. Probiotic-containing foods help to repopulate the gut with healthy bacteria to support optimal digestion, metabolism, and the absorption of nutrients. You can obtain probiotics through lactobacillus acidophilus-containing yoghurt, a specific probiotic supplement (like this one here), or fermented foods. Fermented foods have gone through the process of lacto-fermentation, which enhances digestion of these foods and increases the amount of vitamins absorbed from them. Most importantly, probiotics promote the growth of healthy gut microbes throughout the digestive system. Fermented foods include sauerkraut (pictured above), kimchi, pickled vegetables, and some cheeses. If you suffer from stomach pain after eating eating, bloating, or irregular bowel movements, perhaps talk to your health provider about implementing a round of probiotics into your supplement regime or include these foods in your diet more often.
Prebiotics slightly differ from probiotics. Here's how they work... Our gut is lined with thousands of microbes, commonly referred to as bacteria. The majority of these microbes live in our colon, the large intestine where only very indigestible foods have access to. Microbes are responsible for breaking down our food. In the process of breaking down our food, microbes produce end products that, depending on the type of food, can promote gut health immensely. An example of this is when a healthy digestive system breaks down soluble fibre and resistant starch, causing fermentation, and producing short-chain fatty acids. These short chain fatty acids produced have many benefits on our digestion, including the absorption of water into the bowels to aid bowel movements, the enhanced health of cells lining the colon, increased metabolic rate, and an ample energy supply. Great sources of prebiotics include; cooked then cooled potatoes & sweet potato, plantains, raw garlic, raw leek, cooked onion, and unripe bananas.
These four simple steps can help you experience improved digestion and less bloat on the beach this summer.
What else has worked for your digestion?
Feed, nourish, value yourself.