10 tips for improving your digestive health
To mark Love Your Gut Week (September 4-10) here are 10 tips on how to keep your digestive system in good health
Love Your Gut Week runs from September 4-10 and has been raising awareness of the importance of gut health for over 18 years.
The experts at Love Your Gut, which includes charities and medical professionals, have put together tips on how to give your gut the love and attention it deserves.
1 Get enough sleep
A lack of sleep can affect bowel function, appetite and body weight, so aim for eight hours sleep a night. Cutting out fatty foods, alcohol and caffeine before going to bed will help you nod off.
In stressful situations, adrenaline pumps around the body and speeds up everything inside it – including how quickly food is passing through it. Making time to relax can help minimise the effects of stress. So, whether it’s a walk, swim, or simply time to read a book, be sure to schedule time to relax.
3 Eat a balanced diet
Make sure your diet has plenty of variety and includes carbohydrates, a range of protein rich foods, essential oils from nuts, seeds and oily fish, dairy and lean meat, as well as cereals and grains rich in fibre.
4 Drink water
Making sure you drink enough helps with digestion, ensures you are hydrated and may help prevent constipation. Don’t ignore when you feel thirsty and take plenty of water with you if you’re heading out in hot weather.
5 Get active
Exercise can help improve your digestive health. Carrying excess weight can really affect the digestive system - putting pressure on the stomach, or squashing food mixed with stomach acid back into the gullet, which can cause heartburn.
6 Five a Day
Rich in essential vitamins, minerals and fibre, ensuring you have five portions of fruit and vegetables a day can make a big difference to the health of your gut. Citrus fruits, berries, kiwi fruits, courgettes, squash, aubergines, tomatoes, cucumber and lettuce are foods that are often recommended for those with a sensitive gut.
7 Make time to enjoy food
Don’t eat your meals on the run. Effective and comfortable digestion only takes place if you relax and allow yourself time to enjoy your food. Make meals an opportunity to relax with friends and eat slowly, savouring each mouthful.
8 Limit the alcohol
A glass of wine now and then is okay, but don’t be tempted to drink on an empty stomach or overindulge. Drink sensibly, alcohol can irritate the lining of the stomach and too much can lead to gastrointestinal and liver disease.
9 Don’t smoke
Smoking has harmful effects on all parts of the digestive system and increases risk of disease and disorders.
10 Eating breakfast
Evidence shows that people who eat a healthy breakfast tend to eat more dietary fibre, more vitamins and less fat. This may all help to stimulate the bowels to empty more regularly.
Love Your Gut Week is an initiative of Yakult UK Limited, in association with charity and healthcare professional organisations Core - the Digestive Disorders Foundation, Bowel & Cancer Research, St Mark’s Hospital Foundation, The IBS Network, the Bowel Disease Research Foundation and the Primary Care Society for Gastroenterology.