A recent survey shows that 2/3 of Canadians experience some type of digestive discomfort (read: gas, bloating, constipation etc) at least once a week. Common digestive disorders include celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and acid reflux, among others.
While these are things we don’t often talk about, it’s important to know that your digestive system is directly linked to our brain. This means it can have a powerful effect on your mood and energy level.
Because your digestive health is linked to your overall health, there are simple things you can do to keep your gut healthy.
1) Enjoy probiotics — These “good” bacteria can survive stomach acid and make it through to to our gut. Probiotics create a healthy gut environment in several ways, including changing the acidity of the gut so that bad bacteria can’t survive, compete with bad bacteria for nutrients and produce compounds that attack bad bacteria. An easy eay to get probiotics is by eating yogurt such as Activia, which has 1 billion live culture that has been clinically proven to improve digestive comfort.
2) Focus on fibre — One benefit of fibre is that it helps push food through your body’s internal plumbing. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables and legumes (chickpeas, beans, lentils). Other rock stars in the fibre world include avocado, sweet potato, blackberries, raspberries, dates and prunes.
3) Slow down and eat smaller meals — Eating too fast means gulping down air that will build up in your body and cause discomfort. Eating 4-5 smaller meals throughout the day is better for your digestive system and will also keep your blood sugar levels even i.e. keep your energy levels up.
4) Stay hydrated — Water, milk, juice, even tea and coffee all add up for the 9 cups of fluid that women need and the 12 cups of fluid men need everyday.
5) Keep moving, reduce stress and get some sleep — Being active helps food move along your body’s internal plumbing. Stress upsets your digestive system, so go for walks, do yoga, even deep breathing will help reduce your stress hormone levels. And lastly, your body will get a chance to rejuvenate when you get regular sleep (6-8 hours a day).