Tackling Tummy Troubles April 06 2014 by Simone Denny
We are very grateful to have the wonderful Lisa Guy (Naturopath) contribute to the Nourishing Hub blog again this week. Lisa shares some practical tips on improving digestive health. Irritable bowl syndrome (IBS), bloating and indigestion are all health common issues, particularly for women. This informative article provides some useful advice on tackling tummy troubles.
Lisa is a well respected Sydney based naturopath, nutritionist and passionate foodie (Lisa also consults online for those farther afield). In addition to operating her 'Art of Healing' clinic, Lisa makes regular contributions to a variety of leading magazines, newspapers and websites, she is also an author of a number of books in the health space.
Tackling Tummy Troubles By Lisa Guy ND
Do you feel bloated and uncomfortable after meals, or do you suffer from indigestion or heartburn? Digestive problems such as these are very common with many people thinking it’s normal for them and popping an anti-acid is a simple cure-all. Good digestion is the root of good health. Without a healthy working digestive system you will not be breaking down foods adequately. This will in turn be inhibiting the absorption of vital nutrients your body needs to function properly and for good health. Poor digestion will ultimately affect the health of every system in your body - including your mental state!
Fortunately there are many effective, natural ways to improve your digestion.
Here are 9 easy steps you can make towards better digestive health.
1. Probiotics – Taking a probiotic supplement or including probiotic foods in the daily diet is one of the best ways to improve your digestion and general health. Probiotics contain live and active, bacteria that promote a healthy balance of necessary bacteria in your gut. These beneficial bacteria play a major role in your digestion and immune function as well as in production of vitamins K and B12. People who have an imbalance of good bacteria in their gut commonly suffer from bloating, flatulence, constipation and thrush. Probiotic foods include yoghurt, kefir, miso, and sauerkraut.
Kefir Granules Organic Woman Organic 2012 Prebiotics and Probiotics
2. Bitter foods – Including bitter foods in the diet will improve your digestion by increasing stomach acids. When we taste anything bitter it signals our stomach to secrete stomach acids in preparation for food. Bitter foods include lemon, and bitter lettuce (rocket, endives, mustard greens). Lemon in water first thing of a morning is a great way to kick-start your digestion for the day. Taken 15 minutes before a meal, Swedish bitters and bitter digestive herbal mixes (which will include bitter herbs such as gentian) – available from your local health food stores - helps stimulate digestion too. People with low stomach acids will commonly suffer from bloating, burping and flatulence. Factors that can cause low stomach acid include stress, excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet and some medications.
3. Slippery elm - Heartburn is not always caused by excessive stomach acid, it is generally caused from having a weak valve that shuts off the top of the stomach (oesophageal sphincter), which prevents the contents of your stomach from rising up into the oesophagus. Taking antacid medications may give quick relief but they work by neutralizing stomach acids, which are vital for good digestion and absorption of important nutrients we need for good health. Slippery elm powder is very soothing and healing. Mix a couple of teaspoons in some water or with some yoghurt and take in-between meals or when you suffer from heartburn. It will coat the oesophagus and provide relief from that burning sensation of heartburn. Slippery elm is also an excellent gentle source of fibre to help prevent constipation. You might want to try Slippery Elm Bark Powder or Slippery Elm Bark Capsules.
4. Digestive enzymes – Taking a digestive supplement with main meals can be extremely beneficial for improving your digestion and alleviating digestive complaints such as bloating and flatulence. Your body requires a variety of enzymes for digestion. You can also boost your enzyme levels by eating sprouts such as alfalfa, broccoli sprouts, and sprouted nuts, seeds and grains. Sprouting foods will also improve their digestibility.
Broccoli Sprout Powder Lifestream Advanced Digestive Enzymes
5. Sprouted foods are some of the best sources of living enzymes. Other foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables are also vital providers of living enzymes. Nearly all processed and refined foods are deficient in enzyme content. You can also take a digestive enzyme supplement with each meal.
6. Does gluten give you troubles? Many people report feeling bloated after eating too much bread or pasta, or foods containing gluten. You may not have an intolerance to gluten, but you may be sensitive to having it in large amounts. Our Western diets are very wheat and gluten dominate. If you’re having digestive problems it is definitely worth switching to a gluten-free diet for two weeks to see if you notice any improvement. Most people do. There are lots of gluten-free grains to choose from and gluten-free products available from supermarkets and health food stores. Going gluten-free can open up a whole new variety of foods you have never tried before such as buckwheat, quiona, millet, and amaranth.
7. Are brassicas and legumes giving you gas? Some people find too many brassica vegetables (such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts) and legumes hard to digest. Brassica vegetables are extremely good for your health however they can make you ‘windy’, so you may want to reduce your intake if you’re having a lot of these vegies. When you cook any legumes pop in a strip of kombu (seaweed), this will help breakdown the enzyme that causes wind. You will find that if you work towards improving your digestion by following the other steps in this passage, you will be able to tolerate and digest brassica vegetables and legumes much easier.
8. Don’t drink water with meals – Drinking water with a meal dilutes stomach acids and reduces your body’s ability to breakdown and absorb nutrients from your meal. It is important to drink plenty of water throughout the day, but just make sure it is either side of main meals. Other drinks such as juices and milk are fine with meals.
9. Relax and chew well. You should always try to eat sitting down when you are feeling calm and relaxed. You should avoid eating too fast or on the go. When you are stressed and running around, your digestion slows down. An important part of healthy digestion, which is often overlooked, is the importance of chewing your food properly. Digestion actually starts in your mouth, chewing physically breaks down and mixes your food with saliva (that begins to digest carbohydrates). Chewing also signals to the rest of your digestive tract to get ready for food.
A big thank you to the lovely Lisa Guy, who is such a wealth of knowledge on all things health!
Check out the full range of Nourishing Hub Digestive and Gut Health Products here
Missed our last blog? Read our Interview with Internal Plumbers - who also share their wisdom on digestion.
Tried out our latest recipe? Chia colada - Delicious tropical Chia pudding
Here is one of our new products you might be interested in - Amazonia Raw Pre Probiotics. Made from non dairy fermented whole foods to create billions of prebiotics (food for the probiotics) - this is a truly great product (I can confirm it tastes great too). I met the Amazonian guys this week and I'm so incredibly inspired by what they are creating. More on that subject to come...
Amazonia Raw Pre Probiotics.
We have lots of new products - have a wee peek here
Have a beautiful weekend!
Simone @ the Nourishing Hub X