I love this cartoon on how digestion works by The Awkward Yeti. It reminds me of a couple of important points we often forget in regards to digesting our food.
1. Our stomach doesn't have teeth, so you have to learn to chew your food properly. That's what your mouth and teeth are there for. We all too often swallow a half chewed mouthful just to shovel the next one in. Slow down, and make it count.
2. Keep stomach acid at a low pH to break down food and ensure the nutrients inside are available for absorption. Encourage this by adding citrus fruits to meals, drinking lemon water and having a teaspoon of ACV with water in the mornings. The more we break our food down, the more we get out of it.
3. Maintain healthy gut bacteria by eating fermented foods, reducing processed, avoiding unnecessary medications and by managing stress. This is so key, and people often forget that simply eating good food isn't enough, you have to make it work for you too.
4. Poop every day! Find 'your regular' and move that food waste through and out in a healthy way. Every day or twice a day is a great goal. If you find you're not keeping up with this then work out why. Too much processed food? Not enough fruits, vegetables and fiber? Not enough water? Not chewing your food and setting off the cascade that is digestion?
5. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables with the skin on. The skin is a fibre powerhouse. Did you know that fibre bulks out your stool so that waste can move slow enough to get optimal nutrient absorption, but not too slow, and it picks up toxic waste and metabolites helping to remove them from your gut? Sounds good to me.
If you are suffering small changes that are not particularly uncomfortable or you find you're just not getting 'you regular' under control, then these steps should sort you out in a matter of days alongside plenty of water. If you're experiencing pain, extreme bloating, diarrhoea, fatigue or severe cramping then something more sinister or more complicated might be going on. We'll address some of the more serious gut issues in up coming blogs but your best place to start is with a qualified nutritionist and GP to assess what is going on.