General tips for great digestion

General tips for great digestion

By
Dale Pinnock
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
978 184949 543 1

If you aren’t necessarily suffering from a specific digestive issue, but want to just give your digestion a tune-up or keep it working at its best, these few tips will help you keep everything ship-shape.

Drink more water

OK, OK, it’s a health book cliché, but it is an important point to drive home. Water is vital for virtually every single aspect of health and especially that of the digestive system.

Dietary fibre, the thing that swells in our digestive tract, stimulating stretch receptors, then, in turn, stimulating peristaltic contractions, require water. They draw water in, which is what makes them swell.

Dehydrated bodies mean dehydrated digestive contents… and that soon gets very bunged up and unpleasant. So how much? Well, there are all manner of weird arbitrary numbers flying around. But your body gives you a simple indication. Drink water until your urine begins to run clear. At this point, stop drinking water. Once the urine begins to get colour back to it, drink some more. This way you will generally stay hydrated. However, if you are taking supplements such as B vitamins that give you the fluorescent yellow laser pee that mask the natural colour, then I’d say the general rule of thumb would be a glass every hour or so throughout the normal working day.

Eat whole foods

This is the simplest step you can take towards better health overall. This doesn’t mean suddenly following any weird dietary regimes. It just means eating real food. That’s it. As the saying goes, if it ran, swam, or grew, then eat it. Sadly so many of us are eating stuff that – well – is anything but food. I mean that. A lot of what many people eat today isn’t what we are supposed to be eating as food at all. In my work I come across so, so many people that can literally go for one or two weeks without eating anything that resembles fresh food. Instead they are consuming an array of odd substances found in bright packaging, nuked in the microwave.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suddenly demonising these foods and getting into finger-wagging mode. My issue is with the amount in which they are consumed. Sadly, they dominate our diets, mostly due to the wrong-headed notion that they are somehow convenient or affordable options. Well, heart disease, diabetes and cancer are pretty inconvenient, I’d say. And as far as affordability is concerned, this really has more to do with very clever and ethically questionable marketing.

Last year I made a documentary for a news programme. We worked with two girls who were living in a London YMCA, and their combined weekly food budget was £15. They were relying on packaged convenience foods. They would frequently run out of money and were becoming very aware of the impact that this food was having upon their health. So, I took them around their local market. We came home with carrier bags full of produce and we struggled to spend £10. I cooked them a simple curry from scratch that worked out at 60 pence per portion. It freezes beautifully, too, so I encouraged them to cook in larger batches so they could begin to fill their freezer with healthy ‘ready meals’ instead.

Anyone can do the same. By simply eating more fresh whole foods, you will be taking in far more fibre, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, phytochemicals… all the good stuff.

Take probiotics a few times a year

Probiotics, products that provide the good bacteria that live in the gut, are a great way to give your digestive health a general boost. These bacteria regulate almost every aspect of digestion to one degree or another. Whether it is playing a role in the regulation of peristalsis (the rhythmical contraction of the gut wall that moves everything along), through to repair and maintenance of tissues and structures within the digestive tract, they are massively important. That’s why I think it’s a good idea to give this bacterial colony a top-up once in a while.

I generally say, if you are not directly trying to manage a specific digestive issue, then once every three months, take a course of probiotics. I recommend a broad-spectrum mixed culture probiotic (one with many different strains within it) to provide a broad range of these good bugs.

Useful resource

Viridian Nutrition

An extensive range of the cleanest supplements around. Over 180 products including vitamins, minerals, herbs, oils and specific formulae made from the purest ingredients, with no additives, nasty fillers or junk. viridian-nutrition.com

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