Gut health diet for optimal digestive function
Optimal digestive function is one of the most important foundations of our well being – it affects our mood, concentration, energy immune system, sleep, hormones, skin…everything! If you find yourself struggling with bloating, gas, constipation/diarrhoea and other gut-related issues, we have some simple practices and gut health diet tips that can often make a big difference.
Here are 10 easy ways to help get your digestion back to optimal health:
- Include bitter foods in the diet – foods such as rocket, radicchio and chicory are wonderful salads to include as the bitterness of the leaves help to stimulate stomach acid and digestive enzymes to thoroughly break down and digest food. Best to start the meal off with bitter leaves first.
- Humming – believe it or not, humming (and chanting) help digestive function due to its effect on the vagal nerve, by putting our nervous system into rest and digest.
- Drink peppermint tea – this herb is particularly great for relieving gas and bloating as it helps relax the smooth muscle in the gut. Best to infuse overnight to increase strength and drink 1 hour away from food.
- Manage stress – stress wreaks havoc on our digestion, due to being in ‘flight or fight’ mode making us produce less stomach acid and enzymes to break down food. Practices such as qi gong and meditation are great ways to manage stress.
- Movement – walking, yoga and basically any form of exercise helps to improve circulation, and in turn, get the bowels moving regularly.
- Include more aromatic digestives – herbs such as cardamom, ginger, anise and fennel help to settle the gut and reduce bloating. These are great to infuse with a peppermint tea infusion or add to cooking.
- Eat mindfully – taking the time to sit down, relax and be present when you eat is a simple yet effective way to improve digestion, as it signals to our body to go into ‘rest and digest’.
- Remember to chew – ayurvedic medicine recommends to chew our food 32 times, this is because our taste buds signal to our brain about what type of food we’re actually eating, so it can make the right amount and type of enzymes needed.
- Eat organically – this helps to minimise exposure to glyphosate which disrupts the integrity of our gut lining, commonly known as “leaky gut syndrome”.
- Avoid food sensitivities/intolerances – continuing to eat foods that you’re intolerant to can keep perpetuating inflammation which can lead to a vicious cycle. By avoiding the particular foods that are causing symptoms, you can help your gut to heal quicker. Once the root cause has been addressed, you can also often reintroduce these foods in the future.
These are just a few ways to start improving digestion. However, if symptoms persist, there may be an underlying issue such as an unresolved gut infection that may require further investigation with your functional medicine practitioner.
By Fallon Cashell