I recently shared some of my top tips for keeping your gut in tip-top shape – good gut health and digestion being a little passion of mine. I also shared some of my go-to items when my gut is feeling less than great – we are talking bloating, stomach cramps, indigestion, reflux, excess wind or gas and when you’re a bit blocked up or too open for business.
It’s not something that in society we talk about, we all steer clear of talking about our bowel movements or stomach happenings because it’s a little uncouth. Sadly though, I think this leads to everyone thinking gut pain is completely normal and to be suffered through. Not many people go searching for solutions other than a packet of Mylanta, even though there are excellent natural remedies for assisting a gut in acute stress and also working longer term on the inflammation.
Which is why I am passionate about people taking a greater interest in their gut health, understanding things could be running smoother and actively looking for easy, natural and soothing solutions. There is a time and a place for such discussions, but I wish more people knew that talking about our gut and even how those bowels are going (and not just to our naturopath!) is completely normal. It’s all part of being a human being. Perhaps less glamorous than talking about skin health or what cosmetics we use, but ultimately it’s much more important!
Not all of these solutions are products, and as I mention below one of the best ways to improve our gut health is to actually tune in with how we are feeling. Ask yourself a few simple questions like these below that are good food for thought:
Am I really hungry?
What would really nourish me right now and is that actually food?
Am I bloated because of something I ate or my state of being?
Am I actually consciously enjoying my food and tasting every mouthful?
Am I bloated because I ate too quickly or I am stressed?
Have I been drinking enough water lately?
Have I eaten mainly dry foods today?
Do these cramps always happen after my 3rd coffee of the day/or dairy/or spicy food?
Do I tend to rush around, especially around meal times or in the morning?
What am I bogged down with at the moment?
Is there something in my life that I am struggling ‘to stomach’ at the moment that is not at all food related?
3 more tips for good gut health and digestion
1. Flaxseed Oil
This is a saviour to any kind of inflammation, including your gut. This oil is located in the fridge section of chemists and health food stores and is an excellent Omega 3 oil, a great substitute for fish oil for vegetarians and incredibly lubricating to the digestive system: soothing and great for turning around a blockage in a gentle, holistic way.
- Take 1-2 tablespoons split over your day on your morning porridge, on your soup or dinner, poured over some salad greens as a dressing, drizzled on roast vegetables or a risotto
- Try some drizzled on yoghurt with berries and cinnamon
- Being a cold-pressed oil, keep in the fridge and never heat the oil itself as it will oxidise and lose all it’s nourishing goodness.
- Also never buy a flaxseed oil from the supermarket that has been kept out of the fridge – it will definitely be rancid.
- My favourite flaxseed oil is Stoney Creek Tassie Gold
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Another age-old versatile household remedy for almost anything, apple cider vinegar can act as a little kick-start to the digestion process by giving a big heads up to the stomach in the way of, ‘oh yes, food coming, better get those gastric juices and digestive enzymes ready and raring.’
Having adequate stomach acid is super important for digestion, especially digesting your fats and proteins. Despite the belief that almost everyone suffers from too much acid, this is actually not the case. I was having such issues digesting food (the evidence could be found later down the track!) because of all the antacid and acid-suppressing medications I was on.
Again, please consult your health practitioner before changing any medications. I reduced mine with the support of both my doctor and naturopath.
- Take a tablespoon in water or as is, 10-15 minutes before a meal for optimal power. When in doubt, just before a meal works okay too.
- Try this for a week even just before dinner and notice how you feel after your meals. Less bloating or indigestion?
- Of course if this makes things worse, common sense would tell us to stop this one.
- Try in the mornings instead of your warm lemon water – try warm water with apple cider vinegar. It’s a bit more potent and good for the times of over-indulgence.
- Braggs is a great one – you can even clean with this, talk about multi-use!
3. Mindful eating and proper chewing
Boring as this may sound, but all digestion truly starts in the mouth and by that I mean chewing. Our salivary glands even in anticipation of food, secrete enzymes to start digesting our food in our mouth before we even swallow. Make the most of these guys
- Chew properly – as a rule of thumb try for 20-30 chews per mouthful. This sounds painstakingly slow but try it for even a few days and I guarantee it will make a difference to any digestive problems.
- Practice mindful eating – when food arrives don’t just jump in. Take time to enjoy the look, smell, arrangement of the food. Perhaps take a moment in your mind to be grateful for all of the people and nature that have been involved in providing you this nourishment.
- Enjoy each bite and put your cutlery down between mouthfuls. Avoid looking at your phone, reading or doing anything else. Multi-tasking does not rule with food!
- Try taking 3 deep breaths as rule before you dig in. If we are at all stressed or nervous when we eat, this guarantees digestive distress.
- If you have limited time or are particularly anxious, try waiting a few minutes with some deep breathing practice so your body isn’t in fight or flight mode as you eat. If you have stress hormones racing around your body, I can guarantee the digestive system is far from thinking about digesting food for you!
- Stop when you are content from your meal and not at the full stage. Imagine your stomach as a size of a fist – we want to leave a little room in the stomach for it to churn our food into smaller particles to move through. Just like an overfilled washing machine, it’s not going to do a very good job!
- When you finish your meal, sit back and enjoy some calm moments or deep breaths instead of rushing off to the next very important appointment. Your gut will thank you for it!
Our digestive system should work like a well oiled machine and on the whole, anything less than this is selling yourself short. Gut health is integral to how we feel all over and as you notice improvements in your digestion, you will feel improvements in your energy levels and notice how much lighter you feel both in body and mind.
What are your favourite go-to’s for helping out a sore tummy? Please pass along any great gut health suggestions below so we can all share in the love!