Ask around and you’ll find the majority of people you speak to, have some sort of digestive issue! Whether it is heartburn, bloating, cramps, constipation or diarrhoea, if your digestive system isn’t running smoothly, you’re bound to not feel great.
So, what could you be doing wrong and how can you keep your digestive system healthy?
You could be causing a problem by…
1. Not eating enough fibre
- aim to eat fruit or vegetables with every meal or snack
- gradually increase your fibre intake to 25-30 grams per day by eating more wholegrains, seeds, nuts, lentils, beans, oats, bran, fruit and vegetables
- choose wholegrains (wholewheat, brown) over white bread, pasta and rice
2. Not drinking enough fluids
- aim to drink 2 litres of water per day
- water, when combined with fibre, helps bulk up digested material which helps to keep you regular
3. Being a couch potato and not getting enough exercise
- if you’re sitting around all day, don’t be surprised if your gut is sluggish
- exercise keeps the muscles of the gut moving along
- a sedentary lifestyle slows the digestive process down
- exercise also lowers stress levels, which in turn helps relieve some IBS (spastic colon) symptoms
4. Eating too much saturated fat and processed foods
- a busy lifestyle can make it tempting to just opt for a take-away or a processed meal
- these often contain MSG, artificial sweeteners, nitrates, lots of saturated fats, salt and refined sugars
- avoid junk food and cut down on coffee, tea and fizzy drinks
5. Not eating regularly and not listening to your body
- focus on eating regular meals and snacks throughout the day – this helps prevent eating too much at the end of the day when you’re hungry
- chew your food well – when we’re hungry to tend to eat too quickly
- stop eating at least 2 hours before bedtime
- listen to the call of nature – don’t put off a visit to the bathroom when your body gives you the signal to go
6. Taking medication that could affect your digestive system
- some painkillers can cause constipation
- antibiotics can cause diarrhoea if not taken with a pro-biotic
- excess alcohol can cause stomach ulcers or cause the stomach lining to become inflamed
- prolonged use of certain types of laxatives can lead to a “lazy gut” resulting in constipation. If you need to use a laxative, make sure you use an osmotic laxative.
Taking care of your digestive system isn’t hard and it’s possibly one of the best health investments you can make – for everything, from your immune system to your state of mind.