We all want to be well beings and have our bodies in good working order. We will take our car to the mechanic for a service, and often head to the Doctor if we are unwell with the flu or bad period pain. But, did you know that there are some simple maintenance strategies we can implement that help us to stay well – to digest and absorb our nutrients well, have optimal energy levels when we are absorbing our nutrients, and even help in the prevention of chronic disease? Great news hey!! There is a famous quote from the Ancient Greek Physician Hippocrates that “All disease begins in the gut”, and he may not have been too far off.
Hi, I’m Cathy, Holistic Dietitian and Gut Health Coach, owner of Nutrition Wellness Life, and Mum to 3 little munchkins. I love working with women who are struggling with digestive issues to help improve energy levels, reduce stress, and have a happier gut!
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A happy digestive system is a good starting point in building the foundations for health and wellness. There are many processes going on in the digestion and absorption process, some of which are out of our control and quite frankly most of us probably don’t give too much thought to (case in point – the action of leptin in effecting our feelings of hunger/appetite; the action of our thyroid hormones in regulating our metabolism). To be honest, there is SO much going on in our digestive system that even I was getting carried away doing the first draft of this blog post, sharing so much detail about how this and that hormone/enzyme helps with digestion. Then I realised I have to pull it back, and get back to the topic at hand which is simply my 3 tips for a happy digestive system. If you are super keen to hear all the details of the hormones and enzymes involved in digestion, I can share them in later blog posts. Let’s get the foundations set first.
Number 1 – Take your time with your meals. This is a super important step, which often in our busy lives we can forget how important it is. Eating on the run is new norm – in the car, at your desk, in between getting the kids lunch ready. It is time for us to stop and take the time to sit down, calm down, and get our bodies ready for some nourishment. Sitting down and having a calm environment helps the digestive process. Our bodies are able to release the hormones and enzymes at the right times to optimise digestion and help us to utilise our nutrients.
Number 2 – Try to have a mainly whole foods diet. This means having foods that are less processed – they have come out of the ground, off a tree, from the ocean or a farm! Including whole foods such as lean meat or chicken, fish, eggs, legumes (such as chick peas, lentils), nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables – this is a great foundation of a healthy diet. Avoiding foods with too many ingredients, additives that you have never heard of, or numbers on packages that mean nothing to you – basically, avoiding foods which have too much added crap in them is a great idea! I love going to our local Farmer’s market on a Sunday to stock up for the week – you can chat to the farmers, and it is great for the kids to speak with the farmers too about where all those great vegies and fresh eggs come from.
Number 3 – Drink plenty of water. Try to have at least 1800mL of water each day – preferably filtered water. I know some days this can be a little tricky, but it is really important that we hydrate our bodies. Adequate hydration is essential for our bowels (keeping regular), our concentration, and our blood pressure. So, if you are struggling to get to 1.8L a day at the moment, think about ways that you can mix it up a bit. Perhaps try some fresh lemon juice squeezed in water, or some herbal teas throughout the day (my fav is green tea, this is a good choice super high in antioxidants), some chamomile tea at night, or those cold teas that you can get (I haven’t tried these out, so can’t comment personally on them). I find that having my water chilled is much more appealing and I am more likely to drink more, and having some green tea and dandelion tea helps me to achieve my water goal each day.
So, there you have it, my 3 tips for building the foundations for good digestive health. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.
Until next time, stay well, enjoy your whole foods and take your time.
Yours in good health and wellness,