- Eat slowly and chew well. Digestion starts in the mouth. Chew, chew. chew.
- Eat a high fibre balanced diet. Eat plenty of whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables and minimal amounts of refined foods.
- Avoid drinking water with meals if your digestion is suffering, as it will dilute the stomach acid.
- Minimize alcohol consumption. It depletes the body of nutrients and irritates the gut lining.
- Eat plain, live, organic yogurt regularly for the beneficial bacteria content. Foods like bananas, artichoke and onions contain FOS (fructo-oligo-saccharides) which are food for the friendly bacteria.
- If you have digestive disturbance, try an elimination diet or take a test to uncover any intolerances.
- Address your stress. Try relaxation techniques, yoga, meditation and deep breathing.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Don’t overeat. Leave room in your stomach for effective digestion!
Specific nutrients and herbs for effective digestion
Probiotics are involved in the completion of digestion, the manufacture of B vitamins, healthy peristalsis (the movement of the gut lining responsible for propelling food along), healthy gut lining – preventing gut permeability and toxins entering the bloodstream, as well as keeping pathogenic organisms, such as Candida, under control.
Digestive enzymes rely on many nutrients for their manufacture. It’s a “catch 22” situation whereby if our digestion is under-functioning, we won’t be absorbing our nutrients, therefore our body will struggle to manufacture the digestive enzymes. This itself will lead to even less effective digestion and absorption of nutrients… and so the cycle continues.
Supplementing with digestive enzymes for a while can help restore this imbalance.
Omega 3 essential fats are required to build a healthy digestive lining. The omega 3 oils also effectively reduce inflammation, which is often a feature of bowel complaints, such as IBS. Intake of oily fish, raw seeds and cold pressed seed oils is particularly beneficial, as well as considering supplementation.
Zinc is crucial for stomach acid production and integrity of the gut lining. Zinc foods include seeds, nuts, seafood, egg yolks and fish.
Peppermint aids digestion. Sip it as a tea, or take a capsule.
Chamomile soothes and calms digestive discomfort. Drink it as a tea after meals.
Fennel aids digestion and calms flatulence as well as freshening the breath. Take it as a tea or chew the seeds.
Antimicrobial herbs such as oregano oil, grapefruit seed oil, olive leaf and goldenseal are useful for elimination microbial infection of the digestive tract. These herbs should be prescribed to you by a natural health practitioner for use during a specific healing protocol.
Extra fibre such as oats, psyllium husk or soaked flax seeds will prevent constipation and soothe the gut lining.
Article by Jo Rowkins dipNT MBANT, nutritionist, founder of awakening health & executive health adviser at The Spa Resorts.