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Fix Your Digestion Naturally

Updated: Mar 28



There are few things worse than tummy troubles. If your digestive system doesn’t work as it should, the result might be pain or discomfort right through to downright embarrassment at the gurgley noises and bad smells your body produces. It doesn’t have to be that way and, as a nutrition practitioner, I am always amazed by how long some of my clients have been trying to muddle through before they seek my help.


What scientist now call the ‘microbiome’ is a parallel universe of all kinds of different microorganisms running all through your digestive tract, that runs from your mouth to… well, the other end. Most of these organisms are bacteria, and there are lots more of these than there are cells in your body - about ten times as many. The balance of the bacteria in your digestive system has implications for your health in general and not just your innards. In short, it’s important to have the right kinds of bacteria in the right places. It matters that the ratio of good to bad bacteria works – when you’re out of balance (there are more bad bacteria and other microorganisms,) nutritionists call this ‘dysbiosis’.


Dysbiosis can result in your digestive system becoming a more favourable environment for yeasts like Candida, or parasites. There are some places you don’t really want many bacteria, whether good or bad, and that’s in the small intestine. Your body really should do a daily swoosh of all bacteria from the small intestine down to the colon (called the Migrating Motor Complex)


There are many reasons why this might not happen – like having had food poisoning in the past – and the result is that the bacteria left behind feast on the food you’re eating, causing bloating, wind, feelings of nausea, diarrhoea and constipation (or a combination of the two). Essentially, all those things you might be linking to your irritable bowel syndrome.


Here are 5 important things your gut bacteria do for you


1. Kill bugs and hostile bacteria

These can cause unpleasant symptoms or disease – like the ones that cause food poisoning or stomach ulcers.

2. Boost your immunity

70% of your immunity is in your gut and the immune tissue in your digestive system is very sensitive to bacterial activity. The good bacteria also encourage the body to make a particular kind of antibody that stops you getting sick.


3. Improve digestion

Some bacteria help you break down particular foods and even help with the muscular contractions that move food through your system – thus keeping you regular.


4. Make vitamins & help you absorb nutrients better

Your gut bacteria are responsible for making many B vitamins, and these same bacteria help you absorb minerals in the food you eat better.


5. Protect against disease

Some bacteria produce enzymes that turn dietary fibre into short chain fatty acid (SCFA). This is interesting because these SCFAs can help protect against heart disease by regulating cholesterol and having a positive impact on fats in the blood. A particular type of SCFA called butyrate has been shown to be protective against cancer.

 

Some foods are really good for supporting your digestive system. Some of which are:


1.  Cruciferous Vegetables

These smelly vegetables bring amazing health benefits on a number of different levels. Since we are talking about foods that are helpful for your digestion, you should know that they contain compounds called glucosinolates, which are fermented by bacteria and used as fuel. They are prebiotic.

Examples: Bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, rocket, spring greens, watercress


2.  Fermented Foods

Fermented foods have a long tradition in some parts of the world, especially Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. Bacteria (and sometimes beneficial yeasts) might be involved in the process and the result is an increase of good bacteria in the foods. You’ve probably heard of live or ‘bio’ yoghurt

Some of these other probiotic foods might sound peculiar and a little ‘advanced’ for most regular people. However, they are now commonly found on supermarket shelves (you will find them in world foods aisle where the Oriental products are) and while they might not be the kind of product you will usually go for, it is always worth experimenting. Kimchi in particular, is often combined with chili and other flavours and is far tastier than its name might suggest

Examples: yoghurt, pickles (gherkins), sauerkraut, Kimchi (fermented cabbage), tempeh (fermented soya beans), natto (fermented soya beans), miso soup (fermented soya beans), tamari soy sauce and buttermilk


3.  Fermented drinks

Like other fermented products, these were only once found in health food shops and were perhaps the prevail of people who ate a very clean and un processed diet. These were a secret waiting for the masses to discover. Often flavoured with fruits, thy really are delicious. You will find them in the chilled drinks section in most supermarkets

Examples: Kombucha (fermented tea – sweet and fizzy but without sugar) and kefir (fermented dairy drink very much like a yogurt drink)

 

4.  Fibre

Fibre is one of the best things to eat to support healthy digestion. Fibre is described as being either insoluble or soluble.


Insoluble fibre – this is part of the plant wall in fruit and vegetables. It is indigestible so it passes right through your system, sweeping up toxins and other waste products as it goes, and keeping you regular. The undigested fibre is also fermented by gut bacteria, producing the beneficial short chain fatty acids. You can find insoluble fibre in fruit and vegetables, beans, lentils, oats, whole grain foods like brown rice and black rice.


Soluble fibre - this can be partially digested and is well celebrated for its ability to reduce cholesterol in the blood and normalise blood sugar levels. You can find soluble fibre in oats, veg, fruit (especially apples, pears, berries and citrus fruits), beans and lentils.


5.  Anti-Microbial Foods

Some foods exert a natural antibiotic or anti-fungal effect and can be useful for keeping nasties like pathogenic bacteria or unwelcome yeasts at bay.


These include caprylic acid found in coconut. Coconut oil is also a very good oil to use in cooking especially at high temperatures.


Garlic contains the ingredient allicin, which has historically proven itself to be an effective killer of both bacteria and viruses, making it a great immune-boosting ingredient. Use it raw wherever possible.


Olive oil – the oleic acid has anti-bacterial properties. Use it generously to dress salads and vegetables.

 

What To Avoid

In the same way there are things your digestive system loves, there are things it will not love you for.

Sugar is the one thing to avoid, plus anything that contains added sugar.

Other things your tummy is not fond of include highly refined products like white rice, pasta, pastry and snacks like crisps and biscuits.

 

An Invitation

If your digestive system hasn’t been right for a while, what is holding you back from making some changes? A great start is to book in for a free strategy call with me where you will have the chance to talk about your symptoms and how they impact your life.


Together we can make a plan of action that might involve working with me at a deeper level and perhaps getting some diagnostic tests done.

I offer a range of packages and I’d love to help you make the food and lifestyle changes to turn your health around. 

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