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April, 17 2018

Step 1 – Start by sorting your eating habits


Anne @JdeV Largs store

People nearly always assume that what you eat is the be all and end all when it comes to supporting everything from your weight to your digestion. But before we discuss anything else, I want to discuss the importance of how you eat. Sorting your eating habits really is the first step to better digestion, especially if you suffer from symptoms of constipation. Here I show you how.

Chew your food

Of course you chew your food – right? Well for many of us, it’s just and no more! Too many of us nowadays are in a rush, eating on the move or distracted by the TV or paperwork whilst we eat. Chewing is the first and one of the most crucial steps of our digestive process and luckily, one we have complete control over!

As you chew you’re able to break your latest meal down into smaller pieces, which then increases the surface area available to your digestive juices. Then, as you chew, you also produce saliva. Saliva itself contains digestive enzymes so it can start the gentle breakdown of the physical structures of the food you eat, as early as in your mouth.

The smaller the pieces of food, the more effective this whole process will be. We need the chyme (the mixture of food and digestive juices) in the stomach to trigger the release of bile from the gall bladder, which in turn will stimulate peristalsis – the unique movements in the gut you need to go to the loo. So, to help keep the symptoms of constipation under control, start by getting chewing!

Mindful eating

Eating should be an enjoyable experience – it shouldn’t all be about food for fuel! Obviously that is the underlying principle, but in this day and age we should be enjoying and appreciating the foods we eat. We are fortunate enough to have a variety of tastes, texture and cooking techniques available to us and we should be savouring this.

When you eat you want your body to be in what we call the ‘rest and digest’ phase. As the name suggests, this means your more calming parasympathetic nervous system is dominant which gives your digestive system the focus it needs to work optimally. If you are stressed when you are eating, your ‘fight or flight’ stress response kicks in instead and your digestive processes are no longer the number one priority.

Eating slowly, deliberately and stress-free will also mean that there’s more chance that you’ll chew your food properly and less chance that you’ll overeat – which is always a bonus.

Don’t guzzle down liquids with your meals

Although most people know by now that we should all be drinking enough water – we are definitely advocates of this here at Jan de Vries –actually, when and how you drink your water is important.

I recommend you drink at least 1.5l of plain, still water daily, but importantly, this should be consumed separately from your meals. Drinking with meals means you risk diluting those all-important digestive juices, and not drinking enough can slow down the movement of waste through your digestive system, both of which, can easily contribute to constipation.

Drink at least 30 minutes apart from meals to help keep your digestion ticking over nicely.

Sit up straight!

You might not instantly assume that your posture has much of an impact on your digestive functions, but I’m here to tell you that it does.

As you sit up straight, it allows your stomach to stretch and your digestive juices to flow freely. If you are all hunched up it can affect the secretions of the stomach which in turn, can lead to a whole number of symptoms including indigestion, nausea or a sluggish gut.

Don’t skip meals

If you skip a meal you’re much more likely to make poorer choices later on in the day. Skipping meals will cause your blood sugar levels to drop, and that’s when you are more likely to crave sugar laden treats – which your gut certainly won’t thank you for.

Also, if you’re beyond hungry by the time you decide to eat again you’re more likely to overindulge and eat quicker – all of which can contribute to indigestion, heartburn, bloating and altered bowel movements. So, it simply isn’t worth it! Enjoy your 3 square meals a day, topping up with your fluids and healthy snacks in between if need be.

My top product picks for managing the symptoms of constipation

Help get a sluggish gut moving with Linoforce, prepared with linseeds and infused with extracts of senna and frangula. Once your symptoms have settled, take Molkosan rich in L+ lactic acid to support the internal environment of the gut, and top up your numbers of good bacteria with Optibac’s ‘For Every Day’ probiotics.

Don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for Step 2 as I explore ‘What not to Eat’ if the symptoms of constipation are getting you down!