Three simple steps towards improved digestion

Three simple steps towards improved digestion

Are you bloated or have lots of gas, which makes you feel uncomfortable and at times embarrassed? Or do you feel that your food takes long to digest and just sits in your stomach? Or is it the opposite where you feel that you are rushing to the toilet soon after your meal?

Many suffer in silence from gas, bloating, constipation or diarrhoea and learn to accept these digestive discomforts. I know many of my clients feel embarrassed to discuss these and try to live with them.

There are many causes of indigestion. Some foods and beverages, like caffeine, alcohol, processed foods, spicy or oily foods can cause indigestion and how these affect an individual will vary from person to person. For others poor gut bacteria or a disorder of gall bladder, etc may cause indigestion. While, for some it may be caused by food allergies or intolerances, for example, dairy intolerance.

To help ease your digestive discomfort I recommend that you incorporate my three tips.

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  1. Include whole grains, fruits and vegetables since these are high in fibre, which keeps the bowels moving. If your current diet is low in these, introduce fibre-rich food gradually – fiber is great, but if you are not used to a fiber-rich diet and suddenly eat a lot of fibre-rich food, you may feel uncomfortable. By making some simple swaps you can increase your fiber intake. Have brown rice or quinoa instead of white rice. Did you know 1 cup of cooked white rice has 0.5 grams fiber, whereas 1 cup of brown rice has 3.5 grams fiber and 1-cup quinoa has 5 grams fiber. (Source USDA food content)

  1. Slow down and eat mindfully. Try not to eat on the go but make time to sit down and enjoy your mealtime. Digestion begins in the mouth and as you chew your food, digestive enzymes in saliva begin to break it down, making it easier for absorption. Often it is difficult to know if you are chewing your food properly or are you just gulping it down. I encourage my clients to include raw carrots at meal times, as these have to be chewed properly before they can be swallowed.

  1. Soak your grains, beans and lentils for easier digestion. Grains, lentils and small beans should be soaked for 2 to 4 hours and larger beans should be soaked for at least 4-6 hours or ideally overnight. If these are new to your diet, begin with lentils as these are easier to digest and once comfortable with these, then have smaller beans like mung beans. You can also add cumin, fennel, garlic or bay leaves to the beans when cooking them to make them easier to digest, plus these add flavour too.

As with all changes, I recommend making them a step at a time so you can sustain them and do not feel overwhelmed.

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Sujata Din is a Certified Health Coach and Certified Professional Cancer Coach. In this regular column for iGlobal, she offers some special insights, from useful wellness tips to recipes for creations that are not only delicious but also healthy.

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