Last month we took a look at poor stomach function, which can give rise to unpleasant symptoms such as acid reflux, excess fullness after meals, gas, bloating, flatulence, dyspepsia, nausea or vomiting, fatigue, insomnia, joint and muscle pain, skin disorders, sugar cravings, cramping, diarrhoea and constipation.
We continue with our second part on this issue, which affects thousands of people.
Optimal eating habits
Our digestive tracts do better when they are allowed longer periods of rest.
Fasting 12 hours overnight, and allowing four or more hours between two or three daily meals without snacking in between, encourages optimal functioning of the muscles which sweep the digestive tract clear of food particles and residual microbes.
Dietary advice for digestive health
The key to long term digestive health is microbial diversity, which can be achieved by eating as wide a range of plant foods as possible.
Aim for 30 different types of plant a month, and follow a good-quality nutrient dense diet that includes diverse richly coloured vegetables and fruit, supported with beans, pulses and whole grains, protein and healthy fats from avocado, nuts, seeds or nutritional oils. Avoid alcohol, coffee, carbonated water and fatty or spicy foods, and overeating.
Sleep and digestion
Insufficient sleep – both in terms of quality and quantity – compromises digestion, so aim for at least seven hours’ sleep each night.
Stress and digestion
Feeling tense, angry, stressed or depressed can easily interfere with the normal digestion of food (and vice versa) through the vagus nerve and other neurological pathways linking the brain to the digestive system.
The use of mindfulness, meditation or reading for 15-20 minutes prior to eating allows for calmness and prepares the body for food and digestion. At mealtimes, focus solely on eating, sit calmly in a relaxed state, and avoid reading, watching TV, working or driving while eating. Try taking some long breaths at the start of the meal and aim to chew each mouthful 30 times before swallowing.
Exercise and digestion
Brisk walking, yoga, or stretching aids digestion.
Remedies for digestive problems
Aloe Vera helps your digestive system to run more smoothly and increases the body’s ability to absorb essential vitamins and nutrients.
Centaurium helps to rebalance stomach acid, improve protein metabolism and absorption of calcium, iron and B12, as well as improving acid reflux by toning the oesophageal sphincter.
Charcoal, used occasionally, can help absorb unwanted intestinal gas.
Dandelion stimulates the release of salivary and gastric juices.
Frutin Gastrogel mint flavoured tablets contain pectin, calcium and dandelion. The pectin creates a protective foam barrier which limits the contact between the acid content of the stomach and the sensitive walls of the oesophagus.
Ginger stimulates gastric contractions hence gastric emptying and is therefore used to promote digestive motility and peristalsis. It has long been used to combat indigestion, nausea and vomiting, including in pregnancy and during chemotherapy.
Marshmallow soothes the mucosal membranes in the respiratory and digestive tracts.
Slippery Elm contains mucilage which has a soothing effect on the stomach and gastrointestinal tract, protecting from inflammation.
L Glutamine, Vitamins A and D, and turmeric are systemic anti-inflammatories, and turmeric protects against ulcers.
Liquorice root extract is often used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, such as acid reflux, upset stomach, and heartburn.
Peppermint and sage support healthy digestion and reduce dyspepsia.
Probiotics (live bacteria or yeast) enhance the digestive tract and support natural immunity.
Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is a cheap alkaline substance that can neutralize excess stomach acid. In small amounts, it provides temporary relief from indigestion.
Zinc helps to break down carbohydrates and protein.
Healthright’s aim for 2022 is to help you improve your health naturally and safely.
Come and ask us how. We look forward to seeing you very soon.