Are you struggling with gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea or any gut related problems?
Give these 6 digestion-loving tips a go, which help to support a happier and healthier gut:
1. Ferments are your friends – Probiotic rich food and drinks such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha provide beneficial bacteria which helps us to produce more enzymes and vitamins necessary for our gut health. Moreover, ferments can help to protect us against pathogenic strains of bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella and strengthen the lining of our intestines. (Be sure to check with your functional medicine practitioner if symptoms are worsening with fermented foods – may potentially be due to histamine intolerance).
2. Mindful eating – This is a simple yet such a powerful way to enhance not only the digestion and assimilation of our food – but also being present for the pure enjoyment of eating a home cooked meal that nourishes not only our body but also our emotional and psychological being. Spend a few moments before eating, really getting yourself present within the body and notice all the array of colours and aromas of your meal, make sure technology is off and try not to multi-task here. Spend each mouthful mindfully chewing (ideally 32 times!) and notice the different sensations – this helps to produce more stomach acid and digestive enzymes. Bonus digestive enzymes if you mindfully and joyfully eat with a friend or partner!
3. Stimulate the vagus nerve – Our vagus nerve plays an important role in regulating our “rest and digest” nervous system mode. Due to modern day living, many of us suffer from dysregulated vagal tone, meaning we’re more likely to stay in “fight or flight” response, which leaves us with less stomach acid and enzymes to break down our food. Some ways to stimulate and tone the vagus nerve are cold therapy, singing, humming and laughing – another great reason to eat with (funny) friends or family!
4. Eat bitter foods – foods like rocket and dandelion help to stimulate our tastebuds and the gallbladder which secretes bile to breakdown the fat in our food, as well as produce enzymes from the pancreas. A good tip is to start with the bitter foods on the plate first, in order to optimally prime digestion.
5. Eat the rainbow – while this is commonly touted by health professionals – it couldn’t ring more true. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables (and grass fed meats) ensures that we are getting the vitamins and minerals needed to produce adequate stomach acid, enzyme production and to feed our healthy gut bacteria with prebiotics from certain vegetables and fruit.
6. Butter and ghee – no need to shy away from these healthy fats! Both ghee and butter contain a short-chain-fatty-acid called butyrate, which helps to support the beneficial bacteria present in our gut. Butter also contains vitamin A, which supports the integrity of the gut lining (aka helps improve “leaky” gut).
These are some great and simple starting points to get the digestive fire going – but if you find you’re still struggling with digestive symptoms, there may be something more underlying that needs to be discussed and investigated with your primary functional medicine practitioner.
By Fallon Cashell