The digestive system. The journey of food from our mouths and through our bodies, all the while absorbing nutrients to keep our bodies strong and healthy.
Good digestion is a key to good physical health. If your body is running smoothly, it’s a sign that you are absorbing appropriate amounts of necessary nutrients. Check out the characteristics of a healthy… erm… number two. Turns out there is a lot we can learn from what we leave behind.
Here are some tips to keep your digestive system running smoothly:
(I’m not a doctor or an expert in this field. You will always get the best advice from your doctor or nutritionist.)
The first tip is something we were taught as kids: chew your food! The more broken up your food is the better start to the digestive process. If you shovel in your food in a hurry, your system may take longer or not be able to digest fully. You might also find you cramp up due to gulps of air that went down with the food that is now stuck somewhere in your digestive tract. If you have the patience, experts say 30 chomps per bite is ideal.
Start off right
It’s a good idea to get your digestive system warmed up and ready for the day before filling it with loads of hard-to-break foods. A cup of water with lemon juice will help kick start your digestion. Drinking lemon water before coffee will get your system ready for the harsh diuretic of caffeine. Coffee can be really harsh on your system, especially if it’s the only thing in your body.
Fit For Life
One nutritional regime that people follow is the Fit For Life programme. Author Harvey Diamond established Fit For Life, and one of the principles encourages the intake of fruit in the morning. Fit For Life says that eating fruit and other high-water-content foods until the middle of your day (about noon for most people) will get your digestive system in fit form for the rest of the meals you’ll intake that day. (I’ve tried this principle, and I have to admit that I felt more alert and healthy than having just coffee in the morning!)
You may have heard it hundreds of times, but it’s true: drink water! Water is so good for your digestive system as it cleanses and nourishes our organs. Dehydration is a common cause of so many simple ailments like headaches, constipation and fatigue. It’s also been said that often when you feel hungry when you’ve recently eaten, it’s actually a sign that you’re thirsty. Another debated issue is whether you should drink water along with a meal, as some people believe it dilutes stomach acids and slows digestion. (I haven’t been able to find any definitive answers on either side, so this is still debatable.)
Increasing your fibre intake will help your digestion. Fibre can be found in a lot of great foods, including fruits, vegetables and grains.
Probiotics are also great for your digestive system, so add a little yogurt to your diet. (This is especially good if you are taking antibiotics, as those meds cleanse your system of both bad and good bacteria.)
Digestive aids like lemon and ginger are often the reason for an after-dinner cup of lemon-ginger tea. (Ginger also soothes the tummy when you’re not feeling 100%.)
Beware of triggers
Spicy food, hydrogenated oils, red meat and dairy are common culprits of blocked digestive systems. The thing to remember is that your body will have a unique reaction to these foods, so it’s important to find what works for you- and what doesn’t. The best thing to do is be aware of how your body reacts to certain foods and casually monitor your digestive and bowel erm… patterns. Everyone’s system is different so there is no definitive pattern that everyone’s body will follow. (Though in general, at least once a day is considered a healthy amount).
Be good to your digestive system, you might be surprised at the difference in how you feel once everything is moving smoothly.
Do you have any tips for good digestion? Vitamins? Supplements? Let us know in the comments below.