- Eat more plants. Not only do plants contain minerals, vitamins and digestive enzymes, they contain large amount of FIBRE. Fibre helps to make stools bulky, soft and fluffy. Sounds weird I know, but this all helps with the transit time of the gut and how easy it is for us when sitting on the loo. It also helps to remove more bad bacteria and feed the good bugs that just want to help us be healthy.
- Boost your stomach acid. Many people believe more stomach acid will create more heartburn and reflux. But the opposite is actually true (except for very rare cases). It is usually weak and slow digestion due to insufficient acids in the stomach. This leads to food sitting in the stomach too long, making more gases and lifting the valve that protects our oesophagus from the burning acid. Low acid in the stomach can also lead to excess burping, gas, fatigue, mineral deficiencies and headaches.
- Drink up……water that is! Water helps to keep the lining of the digestive system healthy and this is where the bugs that protect us live, in the mucous membranes. Water is also an essential part of the digestive process. Dehydration can lead to symptoms of indigestion, headaches, fatigue, poor memory and constipation. Without water the fibre that we eat can become hard in the large bowel. The more fibre you ingest the more water you need to help the fibre keeps stools soft and fluffy.
- Add probiotics into your routine. Probiotics are bugs that colonise our digestive system and also live on our skin and the largest number of them are found in the large bowel. They help to extract nutrients, make a few vitamins, make chemicals that benefit us and form part of our immune system, which helps to defend us. Probiotics can be found in foods like sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha. They can also be taken in supplements. Different strains perform different roles and this is super important when selecting a supplement.
- Digestive enzymes are essential for life. Our body makes digestive enzymes to help us breakdown the food we eat, into small enough particles so that the nutrients can be absorbed. Once absorbed into the blood stream they can be used to assist with all the chemical pathways that allow us to grow, repair and function. We need lipase to help dissolve down fats, amylase to break down carbohydrates and protease to help snip the protein chains. If digestion is weakened we could need extra support via supplementation for a set time. Some digestive formulas replace digestive enzymes, while others help to stimulate our bodies own natural production.
If we can get digestion started off really well, then it is more likely that our food will be processed efficiently and correctly and allow for smooth travel the whole way through. This can all help to reduce symptoms like reflux, pain, cramping, bloating, constipation and diarrhoea.
If any of these symptoms are new, worrying you or persistent then please see a healthcare professional.
Yours for great health,
Danielle Elliott, Naturopath