6 easy ways to improve your digestion

Simple tips which can make the world of difference!

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Qualified Nutritionist (BSc, MSc, RNutr)
@emmatalkshealth
@EmmaThornton
Ask Emma


26 February 2021

1 - Drink up!

Keeping hydrated is key for maintaining healthy digestion, so drinking 1½ litres of water a day can be a very cheap and effective way of improving your digestion and raising energy levels.

However, try not to drink too much just before, during or after eating as you will only risk diluting your digestive juices.

More than 20 minutes before or after eating is the best bet for effective drinking!

2 - Avoid bad habits

Avoiding coffee, sugar and alcohol is particularly important if you are constipated, as they can upset the gastric secretions and risk upsetting the response of the bowel when consumed continually. Poor quality trans fats, highly processed foods and artificial sweeteners should also be limited as they can all risk upsetting the balance of your good gut bacteria.

More generally, these options are also all considered to be pro-inflammatory, which will not only risk aggravating a more sensitive gut, but may contribute to some more whole-body implications too.

The way to a happy tum is to instead focus on eating REAL foods! This includes lots of fibre and antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, healthy fats, prebiotics. Some especially gut-nourishing options from me, include:

  • Short grain brown rice, cooked with lots of water and chewed well
  • Figs, raw or cooked
  • Dates, raw or cooked
  • Prune juice
  • Carrot juice (why not add carrot juice to your favourite smoothie such as this delicious Carrot and Mango Smoothie recipe)

Whilst fresh foods are generally a winner, we may need to be aware of high FODMAP foods, particularly in cases of IBS. These FODMAP foods contain a type of fibre that could potentially exacerbate a very sensitive gut. Click here to learn more about some FODMAP friendly foods.

3 - Whatever you eat, chew it well

Although it's also important to consider what you are eating, paying more attention to how we eat is crucial if you're looking to improve your digestion, and something many of us are guilty of not doing enough!

One of my all-time favourite top tips is to make a conscious effort not to bolt down your food - so simple, yet effective! If it hardly touches the sides as it goes down, the chances are the digestive system won’t be ready for it and all sorts of mayhem will break out.

Try chewing each mouthful 20 times for a while and surprise yourself with how much better your digestive tract feels.

4 - Sit down, sit up & relax

Yes, it may sound silly; but what I mean is make sure you sit down to eat, rather than rushing to the shops in your lunch break with a snack in your hand, or jumping up all through dinner to fetch things for other people. This can be incorporated nicely into a more 'mindful eating' mindset. This means eating more consciously - really get immersed in all those lovely flavours and textures of your food and it should, with any luck, become a much more enjoyable experience for you!

Next, posture is another one to consider. So, sit down, relax, and make sure that you are sitting up with your shoulders back rather than slumping over your meal. This makes it easier for the stomach walls to move and mix food up with the digestive enzymes. Cramping up your stomach (which is situated under the ribcage) is a great way of successfully causing indigestion. Watch my self-care tip video below for more on this!

My Self-Care Tip: Sit up straight at meal times!

Here I explain why sitting up straight for meals could help support your digestion and potentially help protect against symptoms of heartburn or acid reflux.

Once you've finished your meal, give yourself five minutes to start digesting, rather than rushing off at once. This again will make the digestive process much more effective and less painful, not to mention enjoyable!

5 - Move more

Even if you're only partaking in gentle exercise, moving more can help to effectively stimulate muscle activity and assist in the unique, wave-like muscular contractions throughout the gut called peristalsis. Yoga, for example, is a good option if you feel you need a helping hand as it helps to gently strengthen hidden muscles and increases mobility without being beyond anyone’s ability.

To give your bowel more individual attention, massage gently in a clockwise circle around your belly, going up the right hand side and down the left, gently but firmly. Massaging in lavender oil, using a cream or oil base, is also helpful (and nice for the nose too).

6 - Support your digestion with some supplements


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  • Pre & probiotics - Once your stomach has had some attention, next you can turn to supporting your system with some pre and probiotics. Prebiotics are a type of fibre which can act as source of food for our good gut bacteria or, in the case of our Molkosan, helping to set the correct internal gut environment needed for the bacteria to survive.
    After using a prebiotic for a little while, slowly introducing a probiotic supplement, such as one from the Optibac range, can be a nice final step for helping to keep your good gut bacteria nicely topped up, and set you in good stead for digestive bliss in the future.

 

First published on 26/05/15, updated on 26/02/21

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