Is your digestion causing you problems?
Problems with digestion are some of the most common reasons why clients seek naturopathic help.
More obvious symptoms can include heartburn, bloating or sensations of fullness, indigestion, excessive flatulence or burping, constipation or diarrhoea.
But there are less obvious signs as well. These include skin, hair or nail problems, fatigue, depression, brain fog, sleep issues, frequent infections, hormone irregularities, weight loss or gain, muscle loss and more. At first glance, it may seem odd that these could be caused by digestive issues but they can.
Every element of your health is affected if you are not digesting and absorbing your food effectively.
So it’s not surprising that, regardless of what you might come to see me for, I will spend a fair bit of time asking you about your digestion, your diet and how you eat.
As a naturopath, I work with the whole body. One of the pillars of good health is diet. That means, together we work on the quality of your diet…ensuring that you have all the nutritional building blocks you need for your body to function effectively. I take into account your personal food tastes and preferences along with any diagnosed health conditions or medications which might affect your vitamin and mineral levels.
But just as important as diet, I hone in on your digestive system. This includes stomach acid, digestive enzymes, gut bacteria, liver function and the integrity of the “digestive machinery”.
So, five tips to get you started towards better digestion:
- Choose a healthy diet – you need to be eating the foods that will supply sufficient nutrients for your particular needs. Your body can’t manufacture the nutrients it needs out of thin air. Be mindful that what is right for someone else, may not be right for you.
- Chew your food and slow down (did your mum ever say that to you?). Good digestion actually starts with the anticipation of food. Have you ever noticed how you start to salivate at the thought or smell of something delicious? Your saliva contains enzymes to help extract the nutrients from your food. This is one of the reasons why you need to take your time when you eat. Give yourself time to be aware of what you are eating and to chew your food thoroughly so that your body has time to produce saliva and the saliva can do its job.
Chew your food as if your life depends on it….
- Chill out – You also need to be physically relaxed when you eat otherwise your digestion will have difficulty “switching on”. (You might notice you can’t eat when you are nervous or stressed. Our bodies are just not designed to be stressed and digest at the same time. It’s something that many people struggle with). So, you’re not going to have the best digestion if you are eating on the run, eating while working or eating standing up.
- Cherish the opportunity – Give yourself the time and permission to enjoy your food. Eating when you are relaxed and having a healthy relationship with food is vital to good digestion.
- Check your stool – That’s right! Take a look. Notice the colour, shape, smell. Pay attention to differences from day to day, week to week. And if you want to know even more, invest in an annual stool test.
These 5 “Cs” of digestion really underpin good digestion and better health.
What else can you do to improve your digestion?
You might be surprised what a difference, following these 5 tips can make. But, if you still aren’t firing on all cylinders we may need to dig a bit deeper to work out why. This might include some simple pathology testing and some deeper analysis of your diet and lifestyle. Sometimes targeted nutritional or herbal supplements are required to break the pattern and turn things around. That’s where I can help.
So, if you feel like your general health is not as good as you would like it to be, have you considered your digestion?