5 ways to ease digestion

20 April 2017 by
First published: 28 August 2016

Want to know 5 ways to ease digestion? Whether affected by IBS, coeliac disease, or intolerances, our digestive systems are extremely sensitive environments, and they can wreak havoc on both our physical and mental health. According to Love Your Gut, one in two Brits suffer from a chronic or persistent gut problem, and nearly a third of us have spoken to a health professional about it. With so many of us suffering with digestion issues, we teamed up with Nichola Whitehead, specialist dietitian and award-winning health blogger at nicsnutrition.com, to find out how our gut can be soothed on a daily basis.

Eat regular meals and chew your food well

Our bodies generally like routine and dislike long gaps between eating. Eating little and often may prevent your gut from feeling ‘overwhelmed’ when it comes to food. Chewing is the start of digestion, so give your body a head start by chewing well. It’s recommend to chew each mouthful around 20 times before swallowing.

Drink plenty of fluid

Keep your digestive system moving by drinking at least 1.5 litres of water a day and staying hydrated. An easy way to tell if you’re drinking enough is to check the colour of your urine – if it’s a pale straw colour then great, any darker then you need to drink more.

Know your triggers

A food and symptom diary can be useful to see if your symptoms are linked to any particular food or drink (or indeed time of year – to see if stress is a cause). Common causes to disturbed bowels are excessive consumption of caffeine (tea/coffee/cola), alcohol, fizzy drinks, as well as fatty and greasy food.

If you suffer from bloating…

Avoid excessive consumption of fizzy drinks and try reducing resistant starches, which ferment in the bowel. Resistant starches are created when starchy foods are cooled after cooking e.g. cold pasta or potato salad, ready meals, frozen/chilled pizzas or garlic bread (all pre-baked breads) and processed foods such as biscuits and crisps. Some people also find fresh pasta better to tolerate in comparison to dried pasta.

If you’re suffering from diarrhoea…

Limit fresh fruit juice to no more than one small glass a day (150ml) and fruit to no more than three portions (one portion is a handful) , as you can still meet your five a day with vegetables. You may also want to cut down on (or cut out) foods that contain the sweetener sorbitol e.g. sugar-free mints/chewing gum. Constipation can be prevented/improved by ensuring an adequate amount of fluid in the diet, exercising (to keep your bowels moving) and eating more fibre – oats and linseeds are good options and provide soluble fibre, which doesn’t usually cause bloating.