2021 hasn’t quite started like many of us had hoped, yet amongst the chaos that the pandemic brings, lockdown life also opens up some opportunities. Less time socialising and commuting means more time to focus on ourselves. So why not use this time wisely to think about your gut health. . If you feel your intestines are out of sync, now might be the time to get to the bottom of it. Let’s re-think, re-set and re-start your digestion goals with a Health Plan.
RE-THINK Your Gut Health
Thank goodness for your gut, because without it, you’d have caught fire a long time ago. 600kcals of food without digestion and you’d be in hot water. And think of all those amazing vitamins and minerals you get from food to keep your tissues and organs healthy to the max. We’ve got to get them out of food somehow…
We eat food, chew it, break it down with enzymes, absorb the good stuff into the blood, push the ‘bad’ stuff along until eventually, out it goes, never to be seen again. However, how much goodness you manage to get depends on a whole host of things, and your gut can sometimes go wrong; not enough enzymes, compromised gut wall absorption, not enough acid, too much acid, plus food intolerances and allergies.
And then there’s the gut microbiome to keep healthy – that mass of bacterial wonder that produces vitamins, helps to maintain a healthy digestive system and even helps with weight management.
Ready to RE-SET and RESTART?
1.Nourish your gut
A wide and varied diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables not only ups your fibre intakes, but provides essential vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Make sure you’re eating plenty of wholefoods such as brown pasta, high quality protein, plenty of nuts and seeds and good sources of essential fatty acids; omega 3 and 6 from fish, nuts and seeds.
2.Ask an expert
If you suspect food might be troublesome for you, ask a registered nutritionist or dietician about food sensitivities, intolerances and allergies. These can result in gut disturbance, or even a feeling of being ‘one below par’. Your food diary might identify suspect foods, and you can talk about what you can do to remove these from your diet, replacing them with the helpful alternatives that you can find in your local health food store; Wheat free, gluten free, soya free, nut-free? There’s no need to go without your favourite foods and drinks these days.
Ever feel like you’re not quite digesting your food properly? Food repeating on you? Digestive enzyme supplements are used with the first bite of food to help with food breakdown, starting in the mouth, and into the small intestine. They’re widely chosen by people who experience wind and bloating and are often recommended by nutritionists for this.
Live bacterial culture formulas have been around for decades, starting with Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacteria. But there are now all kinds of products, from powders, capsules and tablets, that can help support the range and number of bacteria in your digestive tract. This helps to support your body’s own natural vitamin production, and your body’s immune system too – really important at the moment.
5.Check your stress
Prolonged stress can impact gut health in many ways; Stressed people often don’t eat properly, so your digestive system can be poorly nourished (which means the body is too) Additionally blood flows away from the gut when in the ‘fight or flight’ response that occurs during stress. Stress might cause gut cramping, or even constipation as it becomes much less of a priority for the body and slows down. Supplements to help keep gut contents moving along might help; senna, and different forms of dietary fibre. Eat dark green leafy vegetables and plenty of soaked seeds. Exercise helps too.
6.Take your time
When you eat so that your body can kick-start the digestion process. Rest between mouthfuls. Need to slow down? Try chopsticks!
7.Keep a food diary
One of the best things that you can do when assessing your digestive system is to keep a food and lifestyle diary to see whether there are any patterns linked to how you feel, what you eat and how your gut responds. Write down as much information as you can. A nutritionist will find it really helpful.