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5 rules to naturally aid healthy digestion

Our digestive system plays a vital role in our overall health: this is where food is broken down, nutrients are absorbed, waste is processed and immune cells are stored. These nutrients are then passed along to other vital organs such as your eyes, brain, muscles and bones, so really your digestive system is responsible for the health of your entire body!

Keeping your digestive system in good working order is vital because if it isn’t working properly, you won’t be able to properly break down and absorb nutrients – no matter how healthy you eat!

In many cases, poor digestion can be easily fixed using a few simple lifestyle and diet changes. If you suffer from serious digestion issues such as IBS, you may also find these tips useful – but check with your doctor first.

So how do we improve digestion naturally? There are 5 simple rules:

Eat less refined carbohydrates and sugar, and more complex carbohydrates. This means ditching white sugar, white bread, white pasta and white rice, and switching to wholemeal pasta, quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat cereal and natural sugars like stevia or coconut sugar. Unfriendly bacteria and yeasts thrive on refined sugar and carbohydrates, so cut off their food supply!

Eat more fibre. You need both soluble and insoluble fibre to keep your system in tip-top condition. Luckily, the complex carbohydrates we just mentioned are great sources of insoluble fibre, so you’re already halfway there! Add some nuts, beans and lentils into your diet to get some soluble fibre, and fruit to get a bit of both. Additionally, you can add a fibre supplement to your diet, which can usually be added to water, juice, smoothies or cereal.

Take a probiotic. Healthy digestion largely relies on the balance of bacteria in the gut. A good-quality probiotic supplement adds friendly bacteria back into your gut, which aid digestion, and also keep populations of unfriendly bacteria and yeasts in check. However, make sure to implement the first two rules first, as poor diet is likely to be the reason why your friendly bacteria are not thriving in the first place. It’s important to fix this issue first, otherwise any bacteria you add in the form of a probiotic will likely die off too – and we don’t want you wasting your money! The good news is that you don’t always have to take these long-term – once the bacteria are in your system, a healthy diet should keep them there. Read our article on the importance of probiotics for some more information.

Reduce stress. Stress can have a major impact on your digestive system. When you are stressed or anxious, your ‘fight or flight’ response is triggered, so attention is diverted away from the digestive system and towards the muscles and heart – the organs you need to run away or fight. However, this can cause chaos in your digestive tract as it is left unattended. This rule is vital because if you are stressed your digestive system will not work properly, and you will not enjoy the benefits of the first three rules. Try and work through your stress problems – if work is causing you stress, speak to your manager about your workload, ask to cut down on hours, or consider switching jobs. Try to get a bit more exercise into your day: yoga is great for relaxing, while running or swimming burn off extra energy. To help you de-stress, try one of our stress or anxiety products.

Slow down. Again, this rule is vital to enjoy the full benefits of the first three rules. Take the time to sit down, eat slower, and chew more thoroughly. Chewing is important, because not only does it break food down into easier-to-digest pieces, it also stimulates the production of enzymes in your stomach, so that when your food arrives there, your stomach is ready to start digesting – it doesn’t like surprises! After you’ve finished eating, don’t jump up straight away. Give yourself 5 or 10 minutes to sit calmly and let your digestive system do its job.

Hopefully these tips will help you on your way to achieving better digestion! By improving your digestion, you’ll reap all kinds of benefits such as an increase in energy, less digestive complaints and better immune function.