Experiencing heartburn after eating? Feeling bloated? Experiencing ectopic beats? All these signs could point to a digestive issue. How about brittle nails, or even arthritis? All these issues could be related to what ends up in your stomach.
Every choice of meal is a choice of nutrients which you supply to your body. The one simple yet essential role of the digestive system is to break down these nutrients into small components which the body can absorb and use.
These nutrients include:
Sound familiar food diary fans?
Key to a healthy digestive system is the type of each of these nutrients consumed.
Pretty important! It is a genuine statement that ‘changing your nutrition and therefore your digestion could change your life.’
Include each of the following in your daily food diary to achieve 5* digestion.
1* Complex Carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates are high in fibre. Fibre is essential to maintain slow movement of food along the digestive tract, sustaining energy release and preventing constipation.
The Glycemic Index (GI) is used to rank carbohydrates on how they affect blood sugar. Low GI equates to slower digestion and longer lasting increase in blood sugar and better management of blood sugar control (highly important for diabetes), weight management and healthy digestion.
Prebiotics stimulate the intestines to produce more probiotics (good bacteria). These help to ferment indigestible carbohydrates, break down the sugars in dairy products and increases the absorption of minerals through a production of lactic acid.
High fibre diets also have a preventative effect against digestive conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn and haemorrhoids.
Did you know? Adults are recommended to intake 30g of fibre a day.
What we recommend: wild/brown rice, oats, legumes
2* Lean Protein
Protein is important for bodily function therefore it is vital you are digesting healthy amounts in your diet; the key for healthy digestion is consuming lean sources of protein.
Amino acids are the ‘building blocks’ of protein, and play numerous essential roles in the body, including providing cell structure, waste product removal and tissue repair.
Lean animal protein or vegetable protein is easily digested, allowing the amino acids to be absorbed rapidly and used by the body.
Whereas, foods such as lamb or pork, whilst high in protein, contain high amounts of saturated fat which slows digestion down due to its complex structural nature.
Did you know? Protein from vegetable sources takes approximately 20 minutes to digest, whilst animal protein takes roughly 2-3 hours.
What we recommend: chicken breast, lentils, chickpeas, yoghurt
3* Good Fat
Fat is an essential part of your diet, fats are slowest to digest due to their chemical properties leading to an inability to mix with water. This is how the body allows a long-sustained release of energy. The key to maintaining a healthy digestive system is regular intake of good fats whilst limiting the amount of bad.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats
Good fats help to enhance digestive health by helping to fight inflammation in the digestive system, preventing digestive disorders.
Limit your intake of saturated fat as it can cause imbalances in the microbiome, leading to inflammation and subsequent damage.
Did you know? Steatorrhea, or fat malabsorption, can lead to gallstones, nausea and dry skin. Even more reason to make sure you eat the right types of fat!
What we recommend: unsalted nuts, flax seeds, oily fish
What to avoid: fried food, red meat
4* Fruit and Vegetables
Research states that the more fruit and veg you eat the better, up to 10 portions (800g) a day. Fruit is a rich source of digestive enzymes which facilitate digestive health and have anti-inflammatory properties. Certain vegetables are rich in fibre and more importantly, probiotics and prebiotics; probiotics maintain the flora levels in our digestive system and restore the balance of bacteria which can be disrupted by illness, whilst prebiotics are the fuel which allows probiotics to thrive. Aim for the achievable 5 a day.
Did you know? A study found the anti-inflammatory effect of black raspberries suppressed the development of tumours in the colon, even after just 7 days of consistent consumption.
What we recommend: kiwi, pineapple, papaya, carrots, bananas
Water is the key to life – are you drinking enough?
Drinking water can help as a digestive aid, breaking down foods. It helps us to digest soluble fibre, improving the ability of the bowel to produce round, soft stools that are easy to pass.
Did you know? Drinking plenty of water can stop overeating, as it takes up space in the stomach, making you feel fuller.
What we recommend: Drinking 2L of water every day.
Extra tip: Liven up your water with fresh flavours!
Add some lemon or lime, apple cider vinegar, mint, cucumber, cinnamon and ginger.
This can help to: create digestive enzymes, remove toxins from the body, improve digestion, boost metabolism, improve bile flow, introduce fibre, kill bacteria and heal infections in the GI tract. Adding these ingredients can also help relieve cramps, gas, bloating and indigestion.
Remember you are what you eat.