THR1VE nutritionist Shannon Young shares her tips for easing those tummy troubles.
When it comes to digestion, there are so many factors at play. Good digestion is not just about the kind of foods you eat, but when and how you eat, too. I’d always suggest taking the time to note how you feel after a meal and whether this varies – this will be a really good guide. These four tips and tricks can help you on the path to better digestion and help reduce that post-meal bloating. Of course, if you’re regularly experiencing discomfort, it’s always a good idea to check in with your GP, too.
Chew, chew, chew!
It seems simple, but most of us aren’t chewing our food nearly enough before swallowing. Getting your food into smaller particles before it hits your stomach is essential, but often overlooked. Breaking down your food is the first phase of digestion, if you skip this step it means your stomach needs to work twice as hard. When your food hits your stomach, the presence of saliva also triggers the stomach to produce acid and its own digestive enzymes. The more you chew, the more saliva will be present – therefore reducing gas and bloating. Simple, right!
Change your eating habits
Do you have the tendency to eat food at your desk or on the run? This can have a big impact on your digestion. Your brain and digestive system are interconnected, so feeling stressed over a deadline or chowing down on your breakfast in morning traffic is going to add to any digestive upsets. Eating in a relaxed environment, free from distraction, will allow you to be more present with the process. This will help you eat more slowly and mindfully. It also means your body will have a chance to prepare for the food that’s on its way. While most of us don’t give this a second thought, it is actually a huge internal process.
Consume real foods
There’s so many reasons to favour a wholefood diet over one made up of processed foods. One of the major ones is your digestion. Whole foods generally contain a higher percentage of fibre, which helps your food digest properly. Plus, eating nutrient dense and nourishing foods will give your digestive tract the support it needs. By contrast, processed foods pose a number of issues. They often contain toxins that can increase the risk of constipation and diarrhoea, as well as other unfavourable digestive symptoms. Foods high in sugar and artificial colours, flavours and preservatives can be particularly inflammatory for the gut. Cutting back on these processed foods will help ease this inflammation.
Be smart with your hydration
Without water, your digestive function will suffer. Water plays a major role in digesting solid food, as well as nutrient absorption. Dehydration can also lead to things “backing up” in your gut, which is obviously not a fun feeling. However, it’s really important to consider your timing when drinking water. Try to avoid liquids half an hour before and after meals. You don’t want to dilute stomach acids that work to break down food, otherwise your digestion will suffer. This is a really common mistake and an easy one to avoid. Outside of those eating windows, drink up!