Sophie Higgins Nutrition

Nutrition & Yoga

2 digestion photo.medium
22 2 2017

9-5 Digestion

There are loads of simple, convenient things that we can do to keep daily digestion in tip top condition, and keep you and your digestive tract happy all day long.

1. Start the day with a hot water and lemon

Drinking a hot water with lemon in the morning before breakfast will help to kick start your digestive system. Lemon water also helps to relieve indigestion or an upset stomach. The acids found in lemon juice also encourage your body to process the nutrients in food more slowly, and this slowed down absorption means insulin and blood sugar levels remain stable. Better absorption of nutrients also means less bloating.

2. Balanced breakfast

Make sure you eat a well balanced breakfast, and never skip this important meal! Avoid refined, processed, sugar rich foods, as this will send blood sugar levels and energy rocketing sky high, and then crashing, setting you up for a slow day ahead, and reaching for the biscuits over and over again. Aim for some protein (eggs, lean meat, fish, maybe a scoop of protein powder), healthy fats (salmon, nuts, seeds, avocado, nut butter, chia seeds, coconut oil), and complex carbs (oats, buckwheat, quinoa, fibrous veggies).

3. Eat a variety of fresh, colourful whole-foods

Try to fill your plate with as many different colours of fresh produce as possible, as it’s often the colour pigments that contain all of the important nutrients that we need for healthy gut function. Eat a rainbow!

4. Go for complex carbohydrates

Swap refined, processed, simple carbohydrates (think white bread, white pasta etc), for wholegrains and complex carbohydrates. The sugar in simple carbs wreaks havoc on our gut lining, and can be a major contributor to an overgrowth of not-so beneficial bacteria in the gut, potentially leading to a whole host of unpleasant digestive issues. In addition, complex carbs will release their energy much more slowly, keeping sugar crashes at bay, and giving you a nice constant supply of energy throughout the day.

5. Hydration

Drinking enough water is essential for healthy digestive system function, as it maintains the important slipperiness of the GI tract, and helps to keep everything moving along as it should. Drinking an adequate supply of water also helps to make sure you eliminate waste and toxins from the body efficiently. Never hydrate with sugary drinks however, as they only serve to feed less healthy bacteria in the gut with their high sugar content. Aim for 1.5 to 2 litres per day, or more if you exercise regularly.

6. Mindful eating

How you eat your food is super important for healthy gut function. Eat slowly, stop eating when you feel full, and avoid eating just before bedtime. Digestion is ultimately a demanding task, and requires a lot of energy, especially if the digestive system is faced with improperly chewed food - so take small bites, chew until liquefied and broken down, then swallow completely before taking another bite – this will help to pre-digest food and take the load off your digestive system.

7. Fibre

Fibre can help your GI tract stay ‘regular’, stabilise blood sugar levels, enhance healthy bowel function, prevent constipation, reduce LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol, support cardiovascular health, and keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Fibre is found in plant sources, meaning it’s extra important that you make sure you’re eating a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, legumes, beans, pulses, and whole grains – and don’t miss out on the skins of fruit and veg, as this is often where the most fibre is found!

8. Protein and healthy fat rich snacks

We all get peckish throughout the day, especially when we are in need of a quick energy boost, but reaching for processed snacks that are high in sugar, additives, and other man-made nasties, can have a negative impact on gut bacteria, and the gut lining, potentially leading to impaired nutrient absorption, and other common digestive complaints. Aim for snacks rich in protein and healthy fats, as these will not only protect the gut and the blood from an overload of sugar, but will keep you fuller for longer too.

9. Consume fermented foods

Fermented foods are packed full of probiotics – beneficial gut bacteria that are essential for a happy, healthy gut. Regular consumption of foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, natto, kombucha drinks and kefir, will ensure the good guys in your gut stay happy and plentiful.

10. Consider a probiotic

Try to stay away from notorious good-gut bacteria killers, which include, antibiotics, sugar, tap water, GMO foods, stress, and chemicals. Taking a probiotic can do wonders for your digestive health if you experience classic IBS symptoms, as they will help to re-inoculate and stimulate growth of essential beneficial bacteria.

11. Get some bone broth in your life

Bone broth is one of the most healing, nourishing foods you can eat! The collagen and gelatin that it contains helps to repair and maintain the gut lining, preventing harmful toxins and food particles from leaking through and into the gut. Maintaining a strong gut lining also contributes to proper nutrient absorption, which is essential for overall health and wellbeing. What’s more, the amazing properties of bone broth help to strengthen the immune system, boost cognitive function, and support joints and muscles.

12. Exercise

Exercise improves blood flow, and digestive movement throughout the body. If you keep your body moving with a regular exercise routine, you will also keep your digestive tract moving too. Remember, exercise doesn’t have to mean intense HIIT workouts at the gym, it can be a nice stroll through the park a few times a week, an exercise class with friends, or a nice gentle yoga class. Find something you enjoy and make it part of your routine!

13. Take time to chill

Stress has been shown to have a direct effect on digestive system health. When we are stressed our body goes into emergency fight or flight mode, or sympathetic nervous system response, and our bodily functions that aren’t necessary for survival, such as digestion, shut down. This can cause all sorts of nightmarish problems for our poor digestive system - so make sure you take the time to unwind, check in with yourself, and relax with some quality ‘you’ time. Yoga, meditation, reading a good book, seeing friends, and magnesium salt baths, are all great ways to calm the nervous system and get your digestive system health back up and running.