How happy is your gut during the festivities?
The festive season should be full of happy events and happy people. We feel we should be more mindful towards our colleagues and people in general and we might even end up smiling more. Buy does your digestive system feel like smiling?
Festivities normally are also synonymous of culinary indulgence with lot of food and drinks. This can directly impact on your digestive health and spoil the fun.
In the previous blog we described the effect of certain food on our digestion. Now we will analyse the impact of the way we eat and our lifestyle on the digestion. By taking steps to improve your digestive health, you’ll help your digestive system to function more efficiently, improving your overall health and sense of well-being. And not just this Christmas.
Too much stress or anxiety can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Stress hormones directly affect your digestion. When your body is in fight-or-flight mode, it thinks you don’t have time to rest and digest. So the nutrients are not absorbed and we end up to be hungry later on and start to snack in the hope of a quick energy fix.
Also during periods of stress, blood and energy are diverted away from your digestive system.
So it not a surprise that stress has been associated with stomach ulcers, diarrhea, constipation and IBS, since your gut and brain are intricately connected.
Basically what affects your brain may also impact your digestion, So finding ways to relax this Christmas or as a New Year resolution will help protect your stomach. Try deep belly breathing, meditation or yoga,
Find stress-reducing activities that you enjoy and practice them on a regular basis. Consider regular sessions of acupuncture, shiatsu, reiki and reflexology for example
It’s easy to eat too much too quickly if you’re not paying attention, which can lead to bloating, gas and indigestion.
Paying attention to all aspects of your food and the process of eating will help.
To eat mindfully:
- Eat slowly.
- Focus on your food by turning off your TV and putting away your phone.
- Notice how your food looks on your plate and how it smells.
- Select each bite of food consciously.
- Pay attention to the texture, temperature and taste of your food.
Here further tips:
Chew Your Food
Digestion starts in your mouth. Your teeth break down the food into smaller pieces so that the enzymes in your digestive tract are better able to break it down.
Poor chewing has been linked to decreased nutrient absorption. When you chew your food thoroughly, your stomach has to do less work to turn the solid food into the liquid mixture that enters your small intestine.
Chewing produces saliva, and the longer you chew, the more saliva is made. Saliva helps start the digestive process in your mouth by breaking down some of the carbs and fats in your meal.
In your stomach, saliva acts as a fluid, which is mixed with the solid food so that it smoothly passes into your intestines.
Chewing your food thoroughly ensures that you have plenty of saliva for digestion. This may help prevent symptoms such as indigestion and heartburn.
What’s more, the act of chewing has even been shown to reduce stress, which may also improve digestion
Go for a walk
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to improve your digestion.
Exercise and gravity help food travel through your digestive system. Therefore, taking a walk after a meal may assist your body in moving things along.
One study in healthy people showed that moderate exercise, such as cycling and jogging, increased gut transit time by nearly 30%.
Exercise may improve your digestion and reduce symptoms of constipation. It can also help reduce inflammation, which may be beneficial in preventing inflammatory bowel conditions.
Slow Down and Listen to Your Body
When you’re not paying attention to your hunger and fullness cues, it’s easy to overeat and experience gas, bloating and indigestion.
it does take time for hormones released by the stomach in response to food to reach the brain Not paying attention to your hunger and fullness cues and eating when you’re emotional or anxious can negatively impact digestion. Taking time to relax and pay attention to your body’s cues may help reduce digestive symptoms after a meal.
We all know that bad habits such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol and eating late at night aren’t great for your overall health. In fact, they may also be responsible for some common digestive issues.
Smoking nearly doubles the risk of developing acid reflux. Furthermore, studies have shown that quitting smoking improves these symptoms
This bad habit has also been associated with stomach ulcers, increased surgeries in people with ulcerative colitis and gastrointestinal cancers
If you have digestive issues and smoke cigarettes, keep in mind that quitting may be beneficial.
Alcohol can increase acid production in your stomach and may lead to heartburn, acid reflux and stomach ulcers. Excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract
Alcohol has also been associated with inflammatory bowel diseases, leaky gut and harmful changes in gut bacteria.
Reducing your consumption of alcohol may help your digestion.
Eating late at night and then lying down to sleep can lead to heartburn and indigestion.
Your body needs time to digest, and gravity helps keep the food you eat moving in the right direction.
Additionally, when you lie down, the contents of your stomach may rise up and cause heartburn. Lying down after eating is strongly associated with an increase in reflux symptoms.
If you experience digestive issues at bedtime, try waiting three to four hours after eating before going to bed, to give the food time to move from your stomach to your small intestine.
Incorporate Gut-Supporting Nutrients
Certain nutrients are necessary for a healthy digestive tract. Ensuring that your body gets enough probiotics, glutamine and zinc may improve your digestion.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that may improve digestive health when taken as supplements. These healthy bacteria assist in digestion by breaking down indigestible fibres that can otherwise cause gas and bloating. What’s more, they may improve symptoms of constipation and diarrhea
Probiotics are found in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and miso, as well as yogurts that have live and active cultures. They’re also available in capsule form. A good general probiotic supplement will contain a mix of strains including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
Zinc is a mineral that is critical for a healthy gut, and a deficiency can lead to various gastrointestinal disorders.
Foods high in zinc include shellfish, beef and sunflower seeds
Glutamine is an amino acid that supports gut health. It has been shown to reduce intestinal permeability (leaky gut) in people who are critically ill
You can increase your glutamine levels by eating foods such as turkey, soybeans, eggs and almonds.
If you want to fully enjoy this coming festive time but also you are looking for “New Year Resolutions” which will improve your wellbeing try these simple diet and lifestyle changes
The Bottom Line
Eating a whole-foods diet high in fibre, healthy fat and nutrients is the first step toward good digestion.
Practices such as mindful eating, stress reduction and exercise can also be beneficial.
Finally, ditching bad habits that may affect your digestion — such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol and late-night eating — may help relieve symptoms as well.
Happy New Year and Happy digestion