How to Naturally Support Digestion. Healthy Gut, Healthy You! – Nutritionist Rachel Graham offers her advice on how to naturally support your digestion for a healthier gut and healthier you.
Optimising our gut health is fast becoming recognised as the best route to achieving optimum health. It is one of the key factors in determining both our disease risk & overall health status.
We are still discovering so much about how our gut works & research is ongoing. So far we know that our gut is far more complex than we first thought, not to mention, capable of much more than just digesting food.
We now know our gut produces more than 20 kinds of hormones, contains up to a thousand species of bacteria (known as our gut microbiome) and is controlled by its own nervous system (the enteric system) which is almost as complex as the brain.
75% of our immunity resides in our gut. Many experts believe that the starting point in improving our immune health & reducing chronic inflammation is through our gut. We can do this by increasing the balance of friendly bacteria & improving the health of our mucous membranes (think gut lining)
Research tells us that compromised gut health can contribute to a whole host of health issues i.e. obesity, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, hormonal imbalances, chronic fatigue, autism, depression and heart problems.
The bottom line is: that the better our gut health the lower our risk for chronic health conditions.
Unfortunately, though, gut problems are on the rise & many suffer from digestive health issues, which tend to fall under the general diagnosis of IBS or irritable bowel syndrome.
Our gut microbiome is very delicate and can be easily damaged by medications (antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, antacids, corticosteroids), not to mention processed food and alcohol.
Poor absorption is also another common issue, creating a deficiency of key nutrients that would otherwise benefit our digestive health.
So how much of a role does the food we eat play in our overall health & wellbeing? Are certain foods more beneficial than others to support our digestion? Thankfully we know that certain foods if included in our diet can stop the cycle of destruction & help us thrive.
These are foods that have medicinal properties beyond just basic nutrition.
Flaxseed is one of those foods…
The Benefits of Flaxseed
Flaxseed is not only rich in fibre, but it is also rich in alpha-linolenic acid, a potent source of omega-3 essential fats. We cannot make essential fats; we must get them from dietary sources.
Flaxseed is also the most abundant source of plant lignans, which are fibre compounds with known anti-cancer properties very important for women’s health.
Ease of Use
One of the biggest benefits of adding Linwoods Cold Milled Flaxseed to your diet is that it’s a convenient way to greatly increase your fibre intake + your omega-3 essential fats – in two tablespoons!
Simply added to porridge, yoghurt, or smoothies, it is a delicious way to reap all the health benefits.
Linwoods Cold Milled Flaxseed provides 6g of fibre per 20g serving + 3.6g of omega 3 rich alpha-linolenic acid per 20g serving.
Additional Ways to Naturally Support Digestion:
Chew your food! digestion starts in the mouth & lack of chewing means less saliva is produced which results in poor nutrient absorption.
Lack of chewing means your stomach also has more work to do, to break down the food to be absorbed.
Our gut repairs itself at night so try eating less in the evening and resist nighttime snacking to avoid disrupted sleep & enable the all-important overnight rest & repair.
Try some natural herbal tea after dinner or before bed i.e teas that contain liquorice root, ginger, or fennel, all of which are very soothing to our digestion.
A high fibre diet is key for regular elimination & maintaining a healthy gut microflora. Fibre feeds our friendly bacteria helping them to multiply. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts & whole grains.
Just as important as digestion is the elimination of waste from the body. Optimum hydration is integral to enabling a daily bowel movement. Make sure you are drinking a minimum of 2 L of water daily.
Bone broth is a good source of micronutrients and amino acids needed for healthy gut tissue. Vegans don’t have to miss out on this either, just add medicinal mushrooms i.e., shitake mushrooms and any dried seaweed for a nutrient-rich broth.
Stress is both a trigger & a driver of digestive health issues, as our gut & our brain are so closely linked. Build in time in your day to relax & take time for yourself. I call this re-balancing.
Simple diet and lifestyle changes as recommended above may help improve your digestion if you experience occasional, frequent, or chronic digestive symptoms.
Eating a whole-food, mostly plant-based diet, that is high in fibre-rich foods is the ideal way to nourish yourself back to health.