Our health is driven by the state of our gut. Energy, immunity, digestion, repair, growth and the glow of our skin all starts with how we digest our foods, from the moment we think about eating, smell or see food, to when it hits our stomach and goes through the physical process of digestion. Whilst these days in our very fast-paced lives, it is easy to not give much thought about what is going in our bodies, how we eat and engage with food, and the resulting impact on our digestion. The reality is this is a time more than any other to be conscious of it.
The first step in good digestion is implementing mindfulness around eating. So how do we go about this? We slow down and reconnect with our food. This is vital. Our bodies action the digestive process and release enzymes to break down food the minute we see, smell or think about it so given it is doing that for us, it’s important to give some love back by actually slowing down in order for these actions to truly do their job.
Making time to sit down with each meal you eat, no matter how big or small, or how little time you have, is the best start to being mindful of your eating. Once you do that, you really engage with your food and grow a positive relationship with it. Our cells respond, they’re clever like that. They know when we are happy and eating or stressed and eating and digest accordingly. Ever noticed that when you eat on the run, you feel uncomfortable, or dissatisfied or lacking energy later despite having eaten? This is our body giving us a quiet nudge and saying ‘excuse me, please can you just give me a little more time and let me digest that delicious meal’.
Now with a dose of mindfulness in how we eat, the next step to great digestive health is of course what goes in. And this is exciting, because every meal we eat is our chance to fuel and energise our body with beautiful, glorious, nourishing food. Our focus for great digestive health is those foods rich in fibre and probiotics.
Fibre is important in the gastro intestinal system (our GIT or gut) because it keeps everything moving whilst also providing us with sustained energy. A fibre rich diet ensures our digestive motions are frequent and normal and our bowel is in tiptop shape as it creates the bulk in our digestive system to make things move. There are two types of fibre we acquire from different foods, which are both highly beneficial.
Soluble fibre’s main action is to reduce the bad cholesterol (LDL) roaming around our bodies and is richest in foods such as:
- Beans, legumes, peas
- Citrus fruits
- Skin of fruits and vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains.
Now whilst I could probably talk for hours on all the different ways we can improve our digestive health, I’m going to leave you with just one more to think about for now. And, this is the importance of probiotics in the diet.
Probiotics act on our gut like seeds to a garden, we need to plant good bacteria, probiotics, to feed, create and grow healthy gut flora. Without probiotics the garden doesn’t flourish and we feel the effect. However, with a good supply of probiotics from our diet, our gut digests food well, detox and elimination pathways are supported and our digestive tract absorbs nutrients to then feed our body premium fuel as a result.
There are a few wonderful ways we can obtain probiotics from food sources. One of the easiest to obtain is through natural yoghurt. Yoghurt is a brilliant source of probiotics, namely acidophilus and bifidus and integrating just a spoonful of yoghurt in the morning to your breakfast or just prior to can help establish the growth of good gut bacteria. If you can’t tolerate dairy yoghurt, try non-dairy yoghurt with a coconut kefir to help you on your way.
Cabbage for good health – you heard it right! Learn to love cabbage because it can give your tummy some serious love. When cabbage and other vegetables ferment to become sauerkraut, kimchi and the like, they also develop an insane supply of probiotics to feed and nourish. We don’t need to eat mounds of it, but just a few tablespoons with one meal a day to start will support digestion and keep your gut in good nick.
ROSEHIP TEA BIRCHER
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 cups strongly brewed rosehip tea
- 1 cup mixed berries, plus extra for serving
- 1/2 cup coconut, full fat natural or greek yoghurt
Combine oats, coconut, honey and rosehip tea in a bowl and stir to combine.
Lightly fold through berries, cover and place in fridge overnight.
In the morning, top with yoghurt, additional berries if desired and serve.