- excessive flatulence
Good digestion relies on Good microbiotaUnderstanding the effect of your gut microbiota on your digestion and overall health is continually evolving. The importance of good gut health is becoming more and more evident. Scientists have shown for decades, that we can change the balance of the microbiota in the digestive tract simply through the food we eat and the lifestyle we live. The difference in choosing a tub of natural yoghurt versus a fast food burger can change the gut microbiota in numbers large enough to effect mucosal secretions, activate different gene expressions and effect overall nutrient absorption. Hippocrates (370 BC) believed that “All diseases begin in the gut”.
Why is your gut health important for your overall health?You need a healthy digestive system to provide protection from foreign pathogens, toxins, allergens and to help absorb and utilise the nutrients in food. Food for thought : Did you know that your gut microbiota can determine your food choices by suppressing or increasing your cravings? People who crave chocolate actually produce different microbial metabolites (by-products) than people who don’t crave chocolate, even when they are both following the same diet.
What are the basic day-to-day dietary and lifestyle practices for good digestive health?It’s an old cliché, 'you are what you eat'. Diet and lifestyle choices effect digestive health. A healthy digestive system is essential to break down food into the nutrients that your body needs, and can absorb, for overall health and wellbeing.
Top tips for good digestive health include:
- Eat a good wholefood diet, high in fibre including, vegetables, fruit, legumes and whole grains
- Get a mixture of soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre helps to balance the water in your stools helping to avoid diarrhoea. Good sources include oat bran, nuts, seeds and legumes. Insoluble fibre can’t be digested and helps to bulk up your stools. Sources of insoluble fibre include wheat bran, vegetables and whole grains
- Chew your food 20 to 30 times. Not only does this break down food into smaller particles, it also produces digestive enzymes that improve digestion, can reduce bacterial overgrowth and relaxes the stomach. In an article on ‘Mindful Eating’, we discussed the benefits of being aware of what and how you eat
- Include probiotics in your diet to support your digestive microbiota, enhance nutrient absorption, help to break down lactose and strengthen the immune system. Good food sources of probiotics include natural yoghurt, sourdough bread, kefir, sauerkraut and kombucha
- Drink plenty of water. The article ‘Stress and Hydration’ provides useful tips on how to stay hydrated.
- Regular exercise, even a modest amount of 30 minutes per session for 3 times a week increases both the amount and diversity of your gut microbiota
- Manage stress
- Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol
- Avoid processed, packaged and artificial foods
- Some people have restricted dietary requirements due to various health conditions. It is essential to always take this into account when making food choices