A healthy digestive system plays a major role in overall health and wellness. We need a healthy gut to properly absorb nutrients from our food, giving us the energy we need to feel great.
Noticing what comes out the other end is one of the best gut health indicators. Irregular, infrequent, or over frequent motions, while all common problems, can often be signs that something isn’t quite right. I perfect stool should be a slightly ‘s’ shaped sausage, brown in colour, a mild smelling. It’s important to have anything unusual checked out by a health professional. However, in the processes, you can start today by addressing these four basic things you can do every day to support digestive health.
Water is an essential nutrient needed in the body daily for normal function. It’s also absolutely essential for efficient digestion and the processing of food.
When we’re dehydrated, the colon will squeeze additional fluid out of the digestive tract to supplement fluid needs for normal daily functions. Mild dehydration can lead to hard stool that is difficult to pass, which can disrupt regular bowel motions as well as create bloating and flatulence.
In general, it’s common belief that thirst sensitivity declines with age making older adults more vulnerable to dehydration. Aside from thirst, fatigue, headache, and dry skin can also be signs of dehydration.
As a guide, aim to drink approximately 30mls of water per kilogram of body weight of water throughout the to support adequate hydration to encourage healthy regular bowel motions.
Vegetables and fruit are extremely important for digestive health and many of us are not eating enough of them. They contain many properties that support bowel motility and feed the colonies of friendly bacteria.
Soluble and insoluble fibre in plant foods helps move digestive matter along comfortably. Soluble fibre is the soft gummy fibre which helps to create soft formed bowel motions. Insoluble crude fibre helps to create bulk and stimulate motility.
Vegetables and fruit are also important for feeding healthy bacteria which thrive on fibre and colourful antioxidants. These friendly colonies play many roles in protecting us from various diseases. Feed your friendly gut bugs with bright colourful plant matter to keep them healthy and happy.
Not taking enough time to slow down and chew food properly can put extra strain on the digestive system. We need to chew our food properly to support complete and efficient
digestion. If you experience bloating shortly after meals or notice undigested food particles in your stool, slowing down at meal times and chewing well is a great place to start.
For many, dental problems can be a major barrier to eating enough healthy plant foods. If you have problems with adequately chewing tough plant foods such as leafy vegetables, opt to include them cooked in blended soups. Blending or mashing cooked vegetables makes them easier to digest. Meals which are functionally kinder on the gut can encourage better nutritional extraction from meals.
Regular movement, especially gentle movement first thing in the morning, can help to stimulate regular motility and support efficient digestive processes. Just like how sitting for long periods can lead to tight and sleepy muscles, being sedentary can also put the gut to sleep.
The digestive system has an internal “brain” which is referred to the Migrating Motor Complex (MMC). This wiring coordinates digestive movements with each meal and lifestyle patterns. Daily movement helps to stimulate the MMC and encourages regular motions.
To support regularity, work regular movements such as stretching, walking, or tai chi into a morning routine. Doing this daily can support your body clock to align with the MMC and encourage regularity.