Part 1 of a series of articles about gut health -
It all starts in your mouth.
This is just one of a series of articles that I will be posting over the next few weeks all about how your health can be affected by how your body breaks down and processes the food you eat.
In these articles I’m going to discuss with you what happens to the fuel you provide to your body, what happens to it once you have taken it in and, more importantly what may occur if things are not working optimally. Plus, how you can help your body address some of the problems encountered when your digestive system decides to fight back!
From acid reflux, stomach cramps, indigestion, nausea, bloating, flatulence, constipation, diarrhoea, joint pain, fatigue, brain fog, skin conditions, Irritable bowel syndrome, poor blood sugar control, weight gain, weight loss, these are just a few issues that can be caused when your digestive system is struggling to cope with all the functions it is expected to do.
Then, when the niggles get too much we often take medications to treat the symptoms rather than looking at the underlying cause. When the oil light comes on in our cars and we frantically go to the garage praying that whatever the problem is won’t break the bank, often there will be a diagnostic check to find the underlying cause.
As a nutritionist I also carry out diagnostic checks- over zoom rather than in a mechanics garage you will be relieved to know. I then work with my clients to try rid them of their symptoms, not by treating the actual symptoms but by treating the underlying cause of those symptoms. For, once the cause of a clients pain and health problem has been established it is so much easier to help them gain optimal health.
Digestive health starts in the mouth. By chewing our food properly this helps to break it down and the salivary glands secrete an enzyme called salivary amylase which helps to break down carbohydrates. We are often guilty of biting big chunks of food, chewing them a couple of times and swallowing. Often not even paying attention to the process of eating.
These large portions of food land in our stomachs and can put undue pressure on an already compromised digestive system. So by chewing food slowly and mindfully can help your digestion.
In Ayurvedic medicine which is classed as the sister science to yoga, food is looked upon as a medicine. HOW you eat is as important as WHAT you eat.
Eat when you are hungry- many of us have lost the ability to understand what hunger means to us as food is so abundant.
Eat in a calm and quiet environment- Try to move away from TV, tablets, smartphones,
Chew your food well
The amount of food eaten should be the size of your cupped hands. Allowing space for the stomach to churn this food so it is properly broken down.
Visualize when you over fill the Washing machine with loads of dirty laundry. It does not have the room to be churned and so does not get completely thoroughly washed. Your stomach is the same. Over filled can lead to reduced digestion and a feeling of overfullness with the digestive enzymes that break the food down finding it hard to cope.
Try to avoid excessive liquids with your meals as this may dilute the digestive enzymes
Rest and relax after to allow your body to fully digest your meal
Leave some time in between meals to allow the full process of digestion to occur
Eat before sunset. Try to go to sleep a few hours after eating so your body can focus on sleeping and not digesting.
I have written before about mindful eating and this coupled with the principles above can be very helpful.
However if people find they still have issues with digestive upset, supporting with digestive enzymes and looking at food sensitivities as well as establishing if leaky gut is present is important.
In my next article I will discuss the digestive process in the stomach, what happens to your food after it has left your stomach and Leaky gut syndrome.
Thanks for reading.