That gut feeling...

WHAT AND HOW

That gut feeling...

The way in which you eat your food matters as much as you what you consume.
Dr Anu Gupta tells you where you might be going wrong and how you can rectify your eating habits.

One of the first steps to eating healthier is getting your digestion on track. Did you know that the health of your digestive system is crucial to your overall health and wellbeing?

To get started, first take a good look at how you feel after you eat. This will give you some idea about how well you are digesting your food. In today’s world, almost everyone suffers from compromised gut flora.

This provides the ideal environment for bad bacteria, parasites, viruses and other organisms to flourish, affecting your natural digestive abilities.

When your digestive system is off, it is likely that you will suffer from some type of digestive disorder, such as irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, heartburn or reflux, gas and the like.

If left unaddressed, these can even turn into chronic health conditions. But, don’t panic. You can still change your lifestyle today, to help you reverse gut problems and bring about balance in your digestive system.

Reduce stress


There is a strong link between stress and digestion. Stress has the ability to interfere with your digestive system and your digestive process. It also inhibits salivation and leads to low stomach acid and a lack of the digestive juices required to properly break down your food.

So it is important that you remain calm before, during and after your meal. There are many ways to reduce stress and you just have to find a way that works for you. Try meditation, gentle yoga, walking, sleeping, dancing or anything relaxing - whatever works for you.

Chew your food properly

Digestion actually begins in your mouth, with chewing. Your saliva helps to liquefy and lubricate the food, but it also contains enzymes that begin chemically digesting carbohydrates in your mouth. Before meals, take a deep breath and eat slowly and consciously.

Try not to rush meals, shove food down your throat or grab hurried bites between errands. The more you chew, the easier it will be for your body to digest food and absorb nutrients. A mealtime should be relaxing and enjoyable.

Love your liver


You can heal your digestive system by rejuvenating and supporting your liver to work efficiently. There are different ways in which you can do this. One of my favourite ways is to supplement with a herb called Dandelion (also known as Milk Thistle or Silybum Marianum). In addition to this, eat nourishing soups, soup broths, salads and freshly-squeezed juices.

Eat a diet that is made up exclusively of real, whole foods. Try to avoid any kind of branded, processed and fast foods. They are extremely toxic to your digestive system as they are high in refined salt, sugar and oils. Your body does not recognise fake foods and cannot digest them properly.

Water, but not during meals

Water is an essential element for your overall health and digestive system. It is important to drink plenty of water throughout the day for optimum digestive health. Also, remember that it’s best for digestion when you drink water about 30 minutes before or after eating a meal. This is because water can dilute the digestive juices and slow down the process.

If you can prevent thirst during meals, it will allow the digestive enzymes to do their job of breaking down the food you eat. If you struggle to drink plain water during the day, try incorporating fresh fruit or lemon slices into your water to boost your intake.
Eat fermented foods

Eating fermented foods is one of nature’s great healing secrets. The greater the variety of fermented and cultured foods you can include in your diet, the better.

Fermentation allows probiotics, enzymes and nutrients to flourish and multiply. Fruits and vegetables that have been fermented are so potent that a few tablespoons each day will provide the body with a hefty digestive punch that can make a world of difference in gastrointestinal health.

Try including common fermented foods in your diet such as yoghurt, kanji (porridge), fermented vegetables, soy and kimchi (traditional fermented Korean side dish).
Probiotics are your friends

Probiotics are microorganisms like healthy bacteria and yeast, that have been shown to dramatically improve gut health. Probiotics will include L. acidophilus, which is a healthy bacterial strain that normally resides in the body, particularly in the mouth, intestines and urinary tract.

Probiotics are easily available as dietary supplements, which can be found in your local health food shop.

Make sure you take a therapeutic dose. This would be approximately 3-10 billion live culture to ensure that you get effective results and change the health of your gut.

Supplement with enzymes

Enzymes are proteins that facilitate chemical reactions in living organisms. In fact, they are required for every single chemical action that takes place in your body. All of your cells, organs, bones, muscles, and tissues are run by enzymes.

For maximum results, choose a supplement that has a wide spectrum of digestive enzymes in it. These are widely available in health food stores and natural health shops.

How we eat our food is just as important as what we eat when it comes to how well we digest our food. And good digestion is key for weight loss, cleansing, energy and good health in general.

If you are experiencing digestive problems or a chronic health condition, it is your body speaking to you. Listen to your body and use these ideas to bring balance back to your digestive system. Remember, when your gut is healthy, you will look and feel healthy from the inside out.

(The author is a Delhi-based weight loss specialist)

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