06 September 2018 | Column | By Luke Coutinho
Our gut plays a very significant role in helping us maintain our overall health and most of you will concur with me when I say that digestion problems are the most cumbersome of them all. When our gut is sick our entire body feels the consequences and the day becomes a total mess. Keep in mind that when your gut is healthy, your body is healthy - and this is exactly how it is supposed to be.
The way the digestive system performs has an effect on the amount of nourishment that can be drawn from the food eaten. Our gut is the gateway to which you interact with the outside world. It filters and processes what gets used by the body. So, it helps to eat nutritious foods for a healthy head start.
There is no need to take strong antibiotics and tablets when you can follow simple habits that will give you better results.
Here’s a list of some simple hacks for a healthy and happy gut!
Chew your food well:
This is one of the simplest yet most overlooked thing when it comes to healthy digestion.
Good digestion starts in the mouth. When you chew your food well, it eases the work required from your digestive system, so your body can focus on other tasks instead.
Eat real foods:
Get artificial foods off your diet and start having real food. Focus on whole, fresh foods. Avoid the "fake" stuff, including processed foods and fast-foods, which are typically high in refined salt, sugar, and processed oils. Also, they're difficult for your body to digest, and they don't provide any nutritional value. Raw foods are rich in live digestive enzymes that assist our digestive system to breakdown cooked food effectively. Foods like ginger, apple cider vinegar, pineapple, papaya are some foods that are rich in digestive enzymes.
Eat fermented and cultured foods:
Fermented foods are high in "good bacteria" and eating them will help you to regenerate your gut flora naturally. The greater the variety of fermented and cultured foods you can include in your diet, the better. Try eating sauerkraut, kefir, fermented vegetables, kimchi, or Kombucha. If you have a severe gut disorder, start slowly. Allow time for your internal environment to change and for your digestive system to become healthier and stronger.
Look after your liver:
I have said this so many times that there is a strong interrelation between the liver and gut. You can heal your digestive system by supporting your liver to work efficiently and effectively. If your digestion can handle it, try to boost your intake of liver-loving foods by consuming carrots, beetroot and leafy greens in soups and freshly squeezed juices.
Firstly, please stop believing in the 8 glasses of water a day myth – every body is different and every body’s requirements are different. Many people with digestive disorders are extremely dehydrated. If that might be an issue for you, try increasing your water intake today beyond the said 8 glasses! Also, incorporate at least one glass of water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice the first thing in the morning.
Keep your stress levels in check:
Stress doesn't just wreak havoc on your mind; it also messes with your digestion! There are many ways to reduce stress and I recommend giving yourself permission to discover what kinds of relaxing activities work best for you. For me gentle activities such as meditation, breathing, yoga, walking and naps help reduce stress levels.
Reset with a regular detox:
A gentle detox on a regular basis can be a great way to reset your entire digestive system. Consider including aloe vera juice in your detox, this will definitely help your body to detoxify.
Probiotics are the "good" bacteria that have been shown to improve gut health. Good bacteria are required to fight off the bad bacteria present in the body. Including foods such as yogurt etc. are found to be beneficial to increase the number of good bacteria and keep your gut healthy and strong. You can also opt for bioactive dietary supplements available that are specially formulated to keep your gut healthy.
Listen to your body:
Let go of all this dieting drama and food trends, and start focusing on your what your body is telling you. Listen to what your body has to say and find the most ideal solution that will serve you the best. When you understand your body, you will be able to make the right choices based on what works best for your body.
If you find these health disorders coming in the way of your daily life, follow these simple and basic hacks that will keep your digestive system fit and strong.
Luke Coutinho, Adviser and Head of Integrative Lifestyle and Nutrition, Purenutrition.me