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DIGESTION DO’S AND DON’TS – YOU ARE WHAT YOU DIGEST

There’s nothing worse than enjoying a delicious meal at home or out on the town, only to land up feeling uncomfortable immediately afterwards or worse, suffering from bloating, constipation and flatulence. You could blame it on a “dodgy” prawn or an out-of-date mushroom, but if the symptoms persist, it might be time to reassess the health of your gut.

A HEALTHY GUT = A HAPPY YOU 

Nothing is more important for your overall health and happiness than the health of your digestive tract. An unhealthy gut is at the root of most digestive (and health) issues, not to mention those uncomfortable and embarrassing side-effects.

But before you think you just have to suck it up or go to extremes of avoiding all food at all times, here are some of Patrick’s top ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ for restoring the balance of health in your gut to help  fine-tune your body’s digestive processes and avoid discomfort or embarrassment.

  1. DO chew your food thoroughly as this is the first vital stage of digestion. If you can chew your food into liquid mush before you swallow, you’ll greatly assist your digestive enzymes in effectively breaking down your food into digestible form.
  2. DON’T gorge, rather graze. Eating too much food puts strain on your body’s ability to digest food even if you have no history of digestive issues. So, eat little and often.
  3. DO drink plenty of water.
  4. DON’T have sugar or refined foods, which encourage bad bacteria that hinder your body’s ability to digest food and absorb nutrients.
  5. DO enjoy plenty of fibre-rich fruits, vegetables and live natural yoghurt which promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut.
  6. DO try to incorporate raw vegetables into your diet where possible to get the most from the digestive enzymes that are released when chewing.
  7. DON’T drink tea, coffee and alcohol with meals, eat too much wheat or spicy foods, or take medication such as aspirin and ibuprofen, as these irritate your digestive tract.
  8. DO take a good quality all-round digestive enzyme supplement that also provides probiotics and glutamine (an amino acid that helps maintain a healthy gut) to assist your digestive enzymes and normalise digestion.
  9. DO take a high-strength multivitamin and mineral with meals that contains vitamin A and zinc.
  10. DO take omega-3 fats from oily fish, nuts and seeds to calm an inflamed gut and aid absorption.
  11. DO identify whether you have a food allergy by eliminating certain food groups you think might be triggering any unpleasant side-effects after eating them. Eliminate the suspicious food groups one at a time for 14 days and reintroduce your body to them, monitoring how you feel as you go along. If you’re still not sure, seek advice from a health professional who will guide you on how best to proceed.

Look out for Patrick’s latest book, Improve your Digestion, available on shelves in SA in April this year, to learn how to make your gut work for you and not against you.