Bloating, indigestion, abdominal pains – bad digestion is no fun. However, many of us go through life suffering in silence from our tummy troubles, believing there's nothing we can do to relieve our discomfort.
It may be that we are eating things that disagree with our disgruntled stomachs – or it could be that our actual approach to eating is making matters worse (*note to self – whizzing through an entire tube of Pringles in less than 10 minutes is probably not advised).
Top Nutritional Therapist Helen Williams is here to help us understand more about digestion drama and offer her top tips to soothe stomachs...
How Does Digestion Affect Our Health?
"We are essentially one long tube (25-30 foot to be exact) from mouth to anus, and the mucous membrane that lines the gut is our primary interface between the external environment and our body’s internal environment. This mucosal barrier is our first line of defence against pathogens and is designed to allow beneficial things into the circulation and keep the bad guys out - this is one of its most important functions and it comprises around 75-80% of our entire immune system.
"Therefore, how well our digestive system functions will really determine our overall health. When the gut is damaged, all sorts of health problems start to happen - from depression and mental health problems, to auto immune diseases, food allergies and even seasonal allergies."
What Can We Do To Help Bad Digestion?
Mind Over Matter
Helen says: "Digestion begins well before you actually put food in your mouth. The sight and smell of food will start the digestive process by the production of digestive enzymes in the mouth (the saying "mouth watering" really does ring true). So, think about the food, notice how it looks and smells on the plate. Avoid mindless eating and take time to sit down to eat - don’t have a meal on the run, or while watching TV or sitting at your desk. Sitting down is all you should be doing as your body needs to be in parasympathetic mode (our rest and digest mode) to allow for optimal digestion."
Take Your Sweet (Or Savoury) Time
"Allow time to finish before going for seconds. It takes ten minutes for the message to get from the stomach to the brain that it’s full. So, try to wait at least ten minutes before having a second helping – this will stop you from overeating, which can be a common cause of indigestion."
Detox Every Day
"First thing in the morning a glass of warm water and lemon can help kick start the digestion, flush out toxins and put your bowels onto the right track. If you particularly suffer from reflux or bloating, try taking organic apple cider vinegar before meals to help stimulate digestion. Put 1/2 teaspoon in a small amount of water, swish and swallow before meals."
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