When it comes to great gut health, there are some basic principles that need to be established. If you can get these 6 tips right, you’re well on your way to optimising your digestive health.
Chew food thoroughly – Chewing seems like a simple function we should all know how to do, but most people don’t chew their food nearly enough. Consistently under-chewing can lead to malabsorption of important nutrients and may even cause serious health issues long term. Although it appears that digestion starts in the stomach, it actually starts in the mouth. Chewing begins the breakdown of food into smaller particles for better absorption, while an enzyme in saliva called ‘salivary alpha-amylase’ begins the chemical breakdown of starches into simpler sugar molecules. The more we chew, the more salivary amylase we secrete, promoting better digestion. Studies have shown that low salivary amylase has been linked to Metabolic Syndrome and obesity. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6825871/
Stomach pH – Having the correct acid level(hydrochloric acid) in the stomach is crucially important for proper digestion. The stomach should be strongly acidic, around 1.0-2.0 pH, for optimal digestion. Hydrochloric acid starts the breakdown of proteins and fibre as well as helping to absorb vitamins and minerals. Stomach acid also protects against infection, killing harmful bacteria, viruses and fungus. If you’re getting bouts of indigestion, acid reflux, excessive burping or nausea, you’re stomach acid is not strong enough. Try a simple home remedy of organic apple cider vinegar and in a small honey in a small amount of water before meals or digestive enzymes before meals.
Love your liver – In this toxic world, the liver is one of the hardest working organs in the body, performing over 500 life-sustaining functions. The liver produces bile, an important element in digestion, as it emulsifies fat, aids absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and acts as a medium for excreting toxins and metabolic wastes. Bile needs water to be produced. About 2 cups of water is required to produce the right amount of bile for each meal. Foods that nourish the liver are leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, garlic, turmeric, lemon and green tea. There are a variety of herbs that aid liver function and encourage bile flow. B vitamins are also important.
Reduce processed food – There are three major food groups that most people with digestive issues cannot tolerate – processed sugar, wheat and dairy. Having one intolerance is common but sometimes all three food groups can cause digestive distress. When this is the case, you know it’s time for a gut reboot. If you’re going to eat these food try to make the best choices possible. Avoid ultra-processed junk food, instead go for the least processed, chemical laden options. Certified organic is always best when it comes to wheat products to avoid nasty chemicals like glyphosate.
Eat seasonal whole foods – Good gut health requires a variety of nutrients to maintain a diverse microbiome- the bacteria that reside within your intestines. Eating seasonal fruits and vegetables, especially grown locally, provide exactly what the body needs with the changing weather. Different types of produce have seasonal preferences for when and how they grow, each requiring different temperatures, sunlight, water and soil conditions. You’ll find seasonal produce at a farmer’s market rather than the supermarket and you’ll be surprised how much cheaper, tastier and more nutritious it is. Here is a list of seasonal fruit and veg in Victoria. http://seasonalfoodguide.com/melbourne-victoria-seasonal-fresh-produce-guide-fruits-vegetables-in-season-availability-australia.html
Drink plenty of pure water – Every bodily function requires water and the gut is no exception. In fact, the digestive system requires a lot of water to digest food, to assimilate nutrients and to eliminate wastes. Water is alkalising and the body becomes acidic when dehydrated. Every day drink 1 litre of pure water per 30kg of body weight, preferably away from meals. Try to drink water incrementally throughout the day as the cells are able to absorb water more easily with small amounts frequently.