Improve your digestion

What you eat is important, but how well you digest your food is also crucial, so how can you improve this?

Here are five easy steps you can take now to maintain healthy digestion:

1. Chew your food thoroughly – this is the first vital stage of digestion. Aim to have reduced your mouthful to liquid mush before you swallow.

2. Eat less wheat – this can be a digestive irritant. Instead aim for rye bread, corn thins, oat cakes, oat cereals, wheat-free pasta and brown rice.

3. Reduce your intake of sugar and refined foods – these encourage bad bacteria to proliferate in your gut.

4. Enjoy plenty of fibre-rich fruits, vegetables and some live natural yoghurt – these help to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut.

5. Consider supplementing digestive enzymes and probiotics (a supplement of good gut bacteria) for a month if you suffer from indigestion, stomach upsets, constipation or other digestive complaints.

Over a lifetime, no less than 100 tons of food passes along your digestive tract. This ten-meter-long tube is your ‘inside skin’ and, if you ironed it flat, has the surface area of a small football pitch. Amazingly, most of the billions of cells that make up this barrier between your body and the outside environment are renewed every four days. We spend our physical lives digesting organic matter, extracting nutrients, processing these and eliminating the rest. How good we are at this determines our energy level, longevity and state of body and mind. Digestive problems, however, are the norm for most people. A survey we undertook at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition with 22,000 people found that 71% had sub-optimal digestion. We found that one in four often experienced indigestion, while one in two often experienced flatulence or bloating. Four in five didn’t have a bowel movement every day. These are classic signs that all is not quite as it should be in the area of digestion. The immediate knock on effects are often low energy, poor skin, headaches, foggy thinking and food allergies, leading to all sorts of other symptoms – from depression to weight gain, aches and pains to arthritis. If poor digestion goes unchecked for too long it can lead to irritable bowel syndrome, stomach bugs, candidiasis, ulcers, Crohn’s, colitis, diverticulitis and even chronic fatigue. The sad truth is that most of us are digging our own graves with a knife and fork. If any of this sounds like you, the good news is that you can transform your digestion and reap the rewards in terms of extra health and energy.

Digestion Friendly Diet

Throughout the centuries, health experts have extolled the value of spring cleaning the body. In much the same way you need a holiday from work, your body needs a break from detoxifying all the by-products of a heavy or unhealthy diet. Following a detoxifying diet once a year, for a couple of weeks, can make a major difference to your digestion – and also to your energy levels. A more focussed approach would involve consulting a nutritional therapist and having a series of tests. They can gather evidence and help devise a specific diet and supplement programme designed to restore optimal digestion and detoxification. I have seen many long-term sufferers of digestive complaints and chronic fatigue syndrome derive immense and rapid benefit from doing this. But if you just want to give your digestion – and general health – a kick start, then a two-week (or one if you can’t spare that long) detox can be very helpful.

1. Good foods for detoxification

Obviously, the first step to detoxifying the body is to remove or lessen the toxic load. Some foods are almost entirely toxin-generating, while others are very detoxifying. Most, however, have good factors and bad factors.

The foods that are definitely good for detoxification include the following:

Fruit – more or less all fruits, but the most beneficial fruits...

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