Our gut health plays a vital role in both our physical and mental health. In fact the healthier our gut the happier and healthier we should feel. More research is still needed to truly show the powerful link between what we eat and our mental wellbeing; however studies to date have most definitely supported this notion.
We all know that suffering from gut problems such as bloating, heartburn, stomach ache, diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic inflammation, poor gut microbiome etc can seriously hinder how we operate on a day to day basis, leaving us feeling frustrated, exhausted, with lower immune health and in many cases anxious or depressed. Basically having to manage such symptoms on a regular basis can make us feel bloody miserable.
Our gastrointestinal tract (GI) aka gut acts as our body’s food processor and if it’s blocked, overloaded, leaking or polluted with toxins from poor food choices, food additives, pesticides and preservatives, it is going to let you know how it feels, so it’s important that we listen out for these signs.
In the high paced world we find ourselves in these days, our gut health is under constant attack, so it’s important that we take steps to keep it as healthy as possible and there are some key ways in which we can do this:
- Chew your food properly – Yes one of the the best ways to ensure that we are helping make it easy for our bodies to digest our food is to chew A LOT. Believe it or not chewing is one of the most important aids to our digestion and it’s also one we often take for granted, so much so that we sometimes just swallow our food whole, forgetting to grind our teeth altogether. Yup hands up if this sounds familiar, I know I have done it in the past when busy being busy. Chewing properly ensures that our food mixes with our digestive enzymes properly. In turn this will allow the food to be easily digested and better absorbed for optimal nutrition.
- Eat mindfully – hands up if you often find yourself eating on the go? Eating mindfully supports the chewing point above, but also means that you take the time out to just be in the present moment when eating. This will mean not eating whilst tapping away at your keyboard, whilst rushing in between meetings, or grabbing what you can whilst flying around just doing doing and doing some more. All of these activities tell the body its in a stressed state, and unfortunately stress and digestion just don’t mix (see step 5!!) Put it simply stop, chew, breathe between bites, take note of the smell and textures of you food as this will help get your digestive enzymes fired up which only but aids digestion and will help tell your body its relaxed.
- Avoid processed foods – our digestive system finds these types of food really difficult to break down, only to put added pressure on what potentially is an overloaded system already. Over time if these foods are ever present in our diet it will certainly contribute to damaging the lining of our stomach and gut because we have to produce more stomach acid to break these kind of food down.
- Look out for a good probiotic to support gut health. Probiotics probably deserve their own article as there are a lot out there. For now I will just talk about the benefits of a good probiotic. When our guts are healthy and not leaking they are full of good bacteria that helps to reduce bad bacteria that comes from foods we eat and our environment. Basically a good probiotic can replace lost friendly bacteria or give a boost to the ones that are already there. Probiotics can also aid our immune system which may be impeded thanks to poor gut health.
- Stress management – when we are stressed our sympathetic nervous system is switched on which means our ability to digest food properly will be impaired. Being stressed out often or simply being in a constant low level of stress can over time seriously have a detrimental effect on our gut health. This is why it’s important to find ways to destress e.g. exercise, taking time out, meditation, connecting with friends or family who make you smile etc etc.
These are just some of the ways you can certainly make an impact on your digestive health for the better. In my health and wellness coaching practice, I help clients identify and understand lifestyle factors that are contributing to the way they are feeling right now. This can include digestive issues and how to overcome them.
If you are currently suffering from any of the issues I mention in this article and want some support in overcoming them then please do get in touch.
Here’s to better digestion and healther, happier us 🙂