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Get that good gut feeling: top digestion tips

According to Hippocrates, the great master of medicine, ‘All disease starts in the gut’ meaning that if your digestive system isn’t working well, you’ll be more prone to other health issues.

If your digestive system is working as it should, however, you’ll feel lighter, your skin will glow and you will have loads more energy.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer shows you how to get that good gut feeling.

GET THE BASICS RIGHT

That means chewing properly. It may sound simple but chewing food thoroughly and taking time over a meal can really help your digestion.

The first stage of digestion begins in the mouth with the production of saliva; if you don’t chew your food well enough, you don’t produce enough saliva, so you are swallowing ‘dry’ food, making digestion more difficult. In particular, swallowing proteins, such as chicken, meat, eggs, soya, nuts, cheese and fish, that are not properly chewed, can lead to incomplete digestion, which in turn increases the risk of wind and bloating.

BEAT THE BLOAT

There’s always a reason for frequent bloating and worse – wind! It’s just a question of finding what’s going on in your own digestive system.

If you’ve got problems with your digestion, food combinations are definitely worth a try, as food groups are not all digested at the same time. Proteins take longer to digest than starchy food, which takes longer than vegetables and fats take the longest of all. This is why eating them all in one meal can cause problems for some people.

The main ‘rules’ to follow are not combining proteins with starches, so avoiding eating meat and potatoes at the same meal is an example of this. And fruits are always better eaten on an empty stomach, either at the beginning of a meal or between meals as a snack. Fats are best eaten together with either proteins or starches.

Food combining can take some getting used to and although there is no formal research to support this way of eating, the anecdotal evidence is really good.

WHAT IS CELIAC DISEASE?

Celiac disease is a chronic digestive disorder caused by an inherited intolerance to gluten. However, it may not manifest itself immediately and can go undiagnosed for many years. When someone with celiac disease consumes any gluten, (present in oats, barley, rye, wheat, spelt, semolina and kamut), it damages the small microvilli in the intestines leading to severe malabsorption, which in turn can lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Celiac disease is often triggered by emotional disturbances or physical trauma and symptoms can be quite severe – certainly more than ‘normal’ digestive upsets. However, symptoms can often be similar to those of irritable bowel syndrome, which is why it can be missed for many years.

If you are diagnosed with celiac disease it’s always best to seek professional dietary help. As well as avoiding all foods containing gluten, you will need to eat as many fresh vegetables and legumes, such as lentils, beans and peas, rice, nuts, and berry fruits as you can. High quality supplementation is also recommended to plug the nutritional gaps caused by malabsorption problems.