Daily habits to help keep your gut healthy

The health of the gut is central to every aspect of health.

It is through our digestive system that we absorb all of the goodness from our food, a process that is essential for life.

Yet today, many people suffer with an array of gut-based illnesses or dysfunction, which can have broad-reaching impacts on many other areas of our health – here are some gut friendly tips to incorporate into your daily life.

USE LEMON JUICE/APPLE CIDER VINEGAR TO STIMULATE DIGESTION
Due to numerous components in lemon juice and apple cider vinegar, they help to stimulate stomach acid and bile production. The digestive qualities of lemon juice/apple cider vinegar can also help to relieve symptoms of indigestion, heartburn and bloating. Begin your day with the juice from half a lemon in warm water or apple cider vinegar for digestive support.

BITTER FOODS
One of the most detrimental changes to our diet over the last century has been the continual sweetening of our foods, the result being that many people are now particularly sensitive or averse to bitter foods. Bitter foods stimulate the liver to produce bile, which is an important part of optimal digestion. Bile emulsifies fats and renders nutrients — especially fat-soluble ones such as vitamins A, D, E and K. A great way to eat more bitter foods is to include leafy greens, turmeric – and even a couple of squares of good quality dark chocolate.

MOVE REGULARLY
Healthy (as opposed to excessive or inadequate) movement such as walking, increases blood flow to our organs. Bringing more blood to the gastrointestinal tract results in stronger intestinal contractions and increase in digestive enzymes.

The stronger the contractions and the more those digestive juices flow, the more quickly and easily food waste will move through the colon and be excreted out of the body. A brisk 10 to 20 minute walk, can be incredibly helpful to promote a bowel movement and is a great option if you suffer from constipation. Strengthening your core muscles through exercises such as yoga and Pilates are also great for healthy gut function.

FIBRE
Dietary fibre is incredibly helpful for our gut. Soluble fibre essentially acts like a sponge, absorbing fluid and making the bowel contents softer. It also binds to toxic waste products, allowing them to be eliminated efficiently. Insoluble fibre acts as like a “bulking agent” which, with soluble fibre, helps to keep our bowel regular (although bowel regularity is often more complex than just dietary fibre consumption, movement and water).

Research indicates that animals that eat a fibre-rich diet tend to have a lower body weight and be less likely to develop type-2 diabetes, than animals fed a fibreless diet. Fibre is of particular benefit for our gut bacteria; both insoluble and soluble fibres have been shown to positively alter our gut bacteria in as little as two weeks. Obtain your dietary fibre from whole food plant sources.

EAT IN A CALM STATE
Most of us know it’s better to eat dinner at the dinner table away from the television, but what we often don’t consider is what sort of “state” we’re in. It’s always best to eat in a calm state. If you’ve just rushed through the door and are still thinking about the last task you were working on at work, it’s better to wait until you’re calm. Adrenaline, one of our stress hormones, interferes with our ability to effectively digest our food which can lead to indigestion, bloating and even aggravate an irritable bowel.

CHEW YOUR FOOD
As a consequence of often eating in a hurry many of us have forgotten that we actually need to chew our food. There are no teeth in your oesophagus – if you know you’re prone to food inhaling, put your knife and fork down in between mouthfuls. Chewing your food properly sounds obvious, but it can make a huge difference to your gut health!

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