Gut health as an indicator of overall health
Functional disorders of the gut and problems with digestion are pretty common nowadays. These can be the forthcoming symptoms of any disease so it's important to tune in to your body and bring awareness to the changes in your digestive health.
Besides providing basic nutrition, functional nutrition is demonstrated to have physiological benefits, and also reduces the risk of certain chronic diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease (CVD).
These are some basic things that work for everyone pretty well when it comes to common metabolic issues: Eat healthily, drink plenty of water, eat lots of fibers, avoid bad habits and carbonated drinks and take probiotics.
At The Nutrition Clinic, our functional habits coach and nutritionist in Singapore have devised 7 simple tips to help boost your digestive health and give you a brief idea about the role of functional nutrition in your metabolism.
7 Ways To Boost Your Digestive Health
Most of your digestive health depends upon our habits. It all comes down to what you eat, how you eat, and the way you eat it. As surprising as it may sound, the way you treat your gut says a lot about your physical and mental health too!
So, there are a number of things that you can practice to boost up your digestive functions. Here, we would like to provide 7 tips that are easy to follow.
1. Drink Lots Of Water
Basically, the prerequisite to a healthy meal is to drink plenty of water. It is the only drink that your body needs to digest foods. You can never replace it with any amount of juice, or carbonated beverages, or any other drink.
On average, a person should drink 2 liters of water every day. It is the minimum amount your body needs to process metabolic functions.
Take lots of fruits and vegetables that have high water content. For example, you can take cucumbers, tomatoes, gourds, pears, watermelons, etc. Just don't overdo it with the fruits - many fruits are high in sugar and it's best to have them as a snack or treat.
Alcohol can also cause dehydration. So, make sure to stay hydrated during the holidays.
Our Functional Habits Coach Bonnie recommends water, soda water, fresh lime juice, and kombucha as opposed to sugar-laden mocktails.
But for those who want to imbibe, the best options are distilled spirits which remove a lot of toxins so your liver and kidneys don’t have to work as hard.
Clear spirits are better for you: think vodka, gin, and tequila. Pair them with soda water or lime juice alongside fresh herbs and fruit. Be mindful not to add too much sugar to the mix.
To avoid nasty hangovers, Bonnie also suggests liposomal glutathione and alpha-lipoic acid. Alternatively, you can drink a glass of water for every serving of alcohol you consume.
2. Eat Lots Of Fibers
Fibers are very important for any meal. In particular, the insoluble fibers are important to add bulk to your stool. The soluble ones, however, help in peristalsis. All these fibers are rich in cellulose, which is an essential requirement for our digestion. Fiber also helps:
Reduces inflammation, studies show it lowers CRP (an important blood marker for inflammation)
Balances hormones by regulating estrogen (most women are estrogen dominant)
Helps push out toxins through the digestive track
Keeps you fuller for longer
Improves blood sugar as it slows down glucose into the bloodstream
If your body can't tolerate raw vegetables well, we recommend having roasted vegetables instead.
3. Take Probiotics
Probiotics are substances that help to enhance your gut flora. We all have some beneficial bacteria in almost all parts of our body - in the skin, mouth, genital organs, eyes, and gut, etc. All these bacteria are helpful for maintaining the usual body functions.
Gut flora helps digestion and produces many vital micronutrients associated with producing Vitamin B1, B6, and B12. These are essential for our metabolic functions.
Mostly, probiotics are found in fruits, vegetables, yogurts, kimchi, sauerkraut, etc. Fermented foods are good sources of probiotics.
Want to improve your gut health and find out more about which probiotics to take? Book a 10-min call with our care team here
4. Take time to chew your foods
The first and foremost digestive reaction occurs inside your oral cavity. The mucosa of your mouth liberates enzymes when you chew food, and hence digestion starts. Basically, starch-containing foods are first digested here.
So, if you don't chew the food properly, the boluses will remain big enough that the enzymes can’t work on this big surface area of complex compounds. You need to break them down properly for the process to start.
Also, when these complex materials reach your gut, it becomes difficult for the gut enzymes to digest them. It is as simple as it sounds - make sure you chew your foods adequately and take your time when eating.
5. Avoid Unhealthy Habits And Overeating
Smoking, alcohol, and even compulsive overeating can trigger many gastrointestinal and functional diseases. They can cause any kind of gut disease and damage your liver. They can lead to Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD), ulcers, Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, IBS, etc.
We live in an age of convinience where meals can appear on our doorstep in 30 mins or less. And most times, we feel rushed to finish our meal. Slow down and really take time to savour your meals.
Consuming artificial sweeteners can also cause a bloated stomach and diarrhea. These substances are also found in many junk food items. Besides, junk foods contain lots of unwanted calories and fat that your body doesn't need. This can, in turn, cause damage to your health.
Our minds and bodies also have a natural intelligence of seeking and eating foods when we are hungry and stopping when we're full. With emotional eating and binge eating, the compulsion to continue to eat even though the person is full is so great that it overrides the body's signals telling them to stop.
If stress eating and overeating is something you struggle with, you should jump into this read.
6. Add movement to your day
We often look for complex and hard-hitting programs to follow. Just put on those trainers and walk. The best part is, you can do it right now and it’s free. You don’t need to wait for a class or decide which gym to join.
Bonnie suggests a 15- to 20-minute walk at a moderate pace after meals, particularly a heavy dinner, is a habit worth working on.
Nothing can replace the importance of these small shifts in your life that add up to so much more when practiced every day.
7. Sleep and Stress
Your body needs an ample amount of rest every day. You need at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep. It is the prerequisite of a sound mind and body. Getting enough sleep is just as important as drinking plenty of water.
We're also prone to shrugging off the stress in our lives.
Stress is completely important for survival, but when there's too much of it and when it's suppressed and unmanaged for a prolonged period, we might find certain symptoms in our bodies start manifesting. There is a popular belief that there is no disease in the world that stress cannot cause. So learn to tune in more to your mind and body and listen to what it is trying to communicate with you.
Functional Nutrition And Your Metabolic System
Functional nutrition can help you take care of the little needs of your gut health. It means to ensure certain nutritional benefits that don't disrupt the microbiome in your gut and maintain an overall healthy gut metabolism.
To summarise, digestion is the preliminary process in metabolism. If you can't digest food well, it will hamper your metabolism. It may lead to certain health problems including IBS, Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, which include Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's Disease, bloating, belching, and leaky gut- which are all very common gut diseases.
We hope this article helped you to know more about how you can improve your digestive health with functional nutrition. At the Nutrition Clinic, our functional nutritionist and functional habits coach can guide you with nutrition, and lifestyle interventions which include sleep, movement, and mindfulness.
Everyone has unique biology (that's why we run functional testing), lifestyles, and priorities - whether it be getting to the root of a condition, priming the body for pregnancy, or achieving optimized function. Book A Consultation Now and let's get started. The best is yet to come.