Digestive disorders such as heartburn, indigestion and acid reflux are sadly becoming increasingly more common, with almost 40% of people experiencing at least one digestive symptom at any one time according to the NHS.
This is largely as a result of our busy lifestyles, poor eating habits and low quality food, and whilst many people learn to live with the affects or choose to take over-the-counter medication to aid short term relief of the symptoms, there are simple changes you can make to your lifestyle that will improve your digestive health and achieve a happy gut.
1. Stress management
Stress is an important factor to consider when it comes to digestive health and can often be a hidden trigger – you may not even realise you are stressed but your body has clever ways of telling you. Have you ever noticed you don’t feel hungry when you are stressed or anxious, or your stomach feels uneasy? These feelings can easily upset the delicate balance of your digestive system. Everyone is different, so try out different ways to de-stress to find what works for you. For example, learning to meditate, having a warm herbal tea or taking a few minutes to take yourself out of a stressful situation.
You may feel you don’t have the time to go to the gym for hours but you could try out quick workouts such as HIIT or Tabata, take the stairs instead of the lift wherever you can, or even just take a brisk walk around the office everyday. Some movement is always better than nothing, so it’s important to find a form of exercise that is realistic for you and suits your lifestyle.
3. Make time
Instead of grabbing a convenient, ready-made salad, take some time during the evening, weekend or whenever suits your lifestyle to go shopping for fresh food to make your own. Although they often look beautifully healthy and bursting with all the right things, they are not as fresh as they look and will have added preservatives your gut does not need. When you make your own food you know exactly what you are eating, you can be creative by trying out new recipes and ingredients, and you also feel a huge sense of accomplishment. Try it, you may be surprised!
4. Take time
Instead of quickly eating your lunch at your desk or on the move, take the time to eat slowly, chewing each mouthful well and not rushing. Try and eat away from your screen (computer and phone!) so you can really think about what you are eating and how. Not only will this be great for your gut, it will also give you the chance to take a well needed break, refreshing your body and mind for the rest of the day.
5. Make smoothies
If you aren’t a huge fan of eating fruit and vegetables, a great way to up your intake of vitamins and minerals are smoothies. Vegetable based smoothies and juices are better than pure fruit as they have less sugars, and still taste great! Alternatively, you can mix and match so you get all your 5 a day and more in one go. This is also a great way to give your digestive system a break from constantly breaking down solid foods.
6. Smoking and drinking
We all know how bad this is for our health, but did you know how much havoc these habits cause in your gut?! Smoking causes many health conditions including acid reflux, whilst binge drinking in particular increases acid production in the stomach, aggravating and creating digestive disorders. Try to cut down or even better, remove it from your lifestyle completely.
7. Review your diet
This is probably one of the most important tips! We are constantly consuming food throughout the day, which means our digestive system is continually working hard to do it’s job properly. Sometimes it may need a hand and there are easy ways you can help by changing how and what you eat. It’s also a good idea to see if there are certain foods to which you may be intolerant.