The digestive process starts even before you take your first bite of a meal. The anticipation of the tasty food you are about to eat sends signals to your belly to get ready to start the digestive process.
If we eat in a hurry, under stress, or focused on something else (like emails, TV or social media), our digestion is not as efficient. On the other hand, eating when we are relaxed switches us into the parasympathetic mode, also knowns as ‘rest-and-digest’. A better state of mind than fight-or-flight to enjoy and digest a meal.
Some tips to help you slow it down
- Sit at a table to eat.
- Set your cutlery down between each mouthful.
- Switch off your devices and TV.
- Relax and enjoy your meal.
Fill up on fibre
Everyone knows that eating more fibre is good for the gut, but it goes far beyond just helping to keep you regular. Getting a balance of the right type of fibre in your diet can help support a healthier balance of bacteria in your gut microbiome, which has a knock-on effect across your whole body, from hormone balance and immunity to mental well-being and cardiovascular well-being function.
We recommend getting 30g of fibre in our diet daily. Most adults only get about 20g, so we could do with a boost.
Different types of fibre in our diet
This stuff used to be known as roughage and is found in the husks, skin and seeds of plant foods like whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables. This type of fibre adds bulk to the stool and helps things pass through the digestive tract more efficiently, so it is important to relieve constipation.
This is found in the flesh of fruit and vegetables, brown rice, flaxseed, chia, oats, and psyllium husks. This softens the stool and helps to keep you regular. Soluble fibre is fermented in the large intestine to produce by-products known as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that are essential for the health of our gut lining and may also be beneficial when it comes to immunity and metabolism.
Adding flaxseed to your daily diet is a simple way to increase soluble and insoluble fibre. Flaxseed has been shown to help with symptoms of constipation, IBS and diverticular disease.
Try adding Linwoods milled flaxseed to overnight oats or porridge, a spoonful in some natural yoghurt with berries, or sprinkle on top of soups or salads for a top up a 20g portion of milled flaxseed is an easy way to add 5g of our daily recommended 30g fibre.
Eat more plants
The research is indisputable; the more variety of plant-based foods we have in our diet, the better the diversity of bacteria in our microbiome. This goes beyond eating five portions of fruit and vegetables daily, although that is important too. Seeds, nuts, herbs, spices, whole grains, and pulses all count.
As well as providing us with fibre, these foods are an important source of polyphenols that act as prebiotics to support a healthy gut flora balance.
- Eat more than five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
- Choose colourful fruit and vegetables for more polyphenols.
- Add herbs and spices when you can.
- Add two tablespoonfuls of flaxseeds and a handful of nuts to your daily diet.
- Eat vegetables you don’t usually choose.
- Eat different wholegrains like oats, brown rice, quinoa and buckwheat instead of your regular pasta or rice.