When our digestive system is struggling, it can be very draining. Up to 15 per cent of our energy goes on digesting our food; and I don’t know about you but I have always found Christmas to be the most difficult time of all – I seem to forget everything I know about staying well and just give in completely to temptation. In an attempt to enjoy myself without the discomfort this year I’ve put together 10 tips for keeping a happy healthy digestive system. These are just some ideas to get you thinking – you will have your own too – the main thing is to stay in touch with what ‘your’ body wants and needs as we are all gloriously different and what works for me may not work for you.
Hydrate yourself. (Or in other words…drink more – but not just wine).
Many people with digestive disorders are extremely dehydrated. Try to drink at least one glass of water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar first thing every morning. Think of it as giving yourself an internal flush-out.
Herbal teas are another great way to hydrate and heal your body. Peppermint, ginger, fennel and fenugreek are known for their digestive supporting properties. Relax Tea from Pukka is one of our favourites as it is very calming, for tummy and mind.
Chew your food. Slowly. Good digestion starts in the mouth. When you chew your food well, it eases the work required from your digestive system, so your body can focus on other tasks instead. In particular, carbohydrates need to be pre-digested by being mixed with saliva as you chew (remember those biology lessons from years ago?). Also, make sure you sit down to eat, as sitting down and relaxing while eating tells our stomach it’s time to focus on making the enzymes necessary for good digestion.
Eat brown rice at some point(s) over the holiday. Over Christmas, balance out the indulgent days with a few simple meals to give your system a break. Try to stay off sugar in particular as it causes fermentation – the wrong type! You know what suits you and what doesn’t – if you have a fragile digestive system, don’t fool yourself, you can’t just go mad on wine cake chocolate and crisps and hope it’s all going to be fine. It’s not! Every so often take a break and eat some brown rice, chewing it well.
Be good to your liver. For your digestive system to work your liver also needs to be happy. Be kind. Drink a glass of carrot juice every so often, take some milk thistle, drink your water along with your wine. Personally I avoid sugary mixers, I think they are worse than the vodka!
Plan a detox. A gentle detox can be a great way to reset your entire digestive system. Consider including aloe vera juice in your detox, as some research suggests that it may help with digestive issues. I also find psyllium husks very helpful, they are a pure source of fibre that gives you a good clean out from the inside. If my stomach feels a bit bubbly I take a heaped spoonful in the morning with a large glass of water.
Manage your stress. Stress doesn’t just wreak havoc on your mind; it can mess with your digestion, especially over Christmas. There are many ways to reduce stress and I recommend giving yourself permission in 2017 to discover what kinds of relaxing activities work best for you. I found that activities such as exercise, meditation, walking in the woods and naps really helped me to reduce my stress levels.
Support your body with Glutamine. Glutamine is one of the most important nutrients that you can give your body, as it supports the repair and regeneration of the intestinal lining in your body and also soothes inflammation. You can find glutamine in supplement form and it’s also found in foods such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, beetroot, beans, spinach, parsley and fresh vegetable juices. Look it up or call into your local healthfood shop for some information.
Get stocked up on probiotics. Ask in your local Healthfood shop for the best probiotic for your situation; and if you have IBS type symptoms I would suggest Alflorex (from the research team at UCC), as we have had great results.
Try Turmeric. Turmeric has a lot to offer from a health perspective. It’s great for tummies, reducing gas and bloating. Add it to curries, drink it as a tea or take it in capsule form – my choice would be the Pukka range. Ask in your local Healthfood shop for advice.
Learn to give yourself a tummy rub. You can look this up on youtube, but the basic idea is to rub in a clockwise motion (preferably with a little oil – if you have it, Castor oil) and pay particular attention to your tummy button. Finish off by making a hot bottle and putting it on your tummy and take some time to have a little lie down.
Organico Cafe will be open until 4pm on Christmas Eve and then we are taking our annual Christmas break until January 3. Our Shop will also be open until 4pm on Christmas Eve and then will re-open on Wednesday, December 28 to Saturday, December 31 inclusive. From Tuesday, January 3, we will be back to business as usual.
Happy Christmas to you all!