At some point in our life we all may suffer with some abdominal cramps or constipation unrelated to our menstrual period. Others unfortunately may suffer much worse symptoms and on a regular basis. Symptoms such as bloating, constipation, cramping, diarrheoa and the list goes on. This can impact ones life in many different ways. For those of you who experience any of the above symptoms without a medical diagnosis for coeliac disease or irritable bowel syndrome here are some tips you can use to try and improve your digestive health.
1) Increase Your Vegetable Intake
Vegetables don’t only supply an abundant amount of vitamins and minerals necessary for optimal health but they also provide fibre and bulk to support a healthy digestive tract. Only 8% of the Australian population eats the recommended five servings of vegetables a day (if you don’t include potatoes). As a rule, try to increase your vegetable intake simply by adding a vegetable (Green Juice) smoothie to your daily diet.
Probiotics can be found in foods such as yogurt or it can be consumed as a supplement. Probiotics provide healthy bacteria to the large intestine to breakdown and ferment food to produce short chain fatty acids and certain vitamins (B and K). Healthy gut micro-flora maintains the mucosal lining of the intestines, supports immune function and aids digestion by breaking down food that the stomach and small intestine were unable to breakdown.
3) Drink Water
Water is vital to ensure there is enough fluid in the digestive tract to support the cells lining the mucosa and also to help aid in the transport of nutrients and bulk through the digestive alimentary. Dehydration can easily lead to constipation; especially if you exercise, live in a warm climate, drink coffee an/or eat a lot of processed foods high in salt (such as breads, fried food, ham etc).
4) Exercise Daily
Digestion relies on involuntary smooth muscle contractions to move the bulk of food and nutrients through the digestive tract. A sedentary life can impact and slow down this process (leading to constipation). Exercise on the other hand can support digestion by increasing the activity of these muscles, increasing the speed of digestion and reducing the risk of bloating and constipation.
5) Maintain A Healthy Weight
Studies have shown that even a slight reduction in weight in an over-weight person can reduce the symptoms of Gastroesphageal Reflux Disease (GORD). Symptoms such as heartburn and bloating can be better managed with weight loss and trying to maintain a healthy weight. Remember to also eat your food slowly and properly chew before swallowing.
FOODS TO SUPPORT YOUR DIGESTIVE HEALTH
Oily Fish– increased omega 3 to help reduce inflammation and support immune function.
Ginger– used to treat nausea during pregnancy.
Peppermint – a natural antispasmodic that can relax the bowel and smooth muscle.
Fibre rich foods- A high fibre diet has been linked with reducing bowel cancer. Eating the recommended five servings of vegetables a day and eating whole-grains over heavily processed foods is a wise choice!
By Vanessa Thomson-Pride
Nutrition Advisor and Public Health Speaker.
Why is it that when the clock strikes 3pm my body starts thinking about chocolate? And no not everyday, but on those days when it does happen, nothing can distract my mind. I want some chocolate and I want it now!
I know most of you ladies reading this right now are nodding your head – voicing out a loud, ‘yes that happens to me too!’. I have to ask: is it something so simple and scientific, such as a deficiency in a particular nutrient on that day? Or am I a chocolate addict?
Chocolate is known to release hormones such as serotonin into your body, which lifts our mood and makes us feel good. It is also associated with relaxation, and when someone is stressed, this can lead to emotional eating. Chocolate is a desired comfort food during these times and some research has stated that chocolate cravings tend to increase around that time of the month when women menstruate. This can be linked to low magnesium levels around PMS, and given that cocoa is high in magnesium and antioxidants, this could be one of many factors.
Another reason some people tend to crave chocolate – and especially in the afternoon – is because most chocolate is filled with sugar. Raw cocoa is high in magnesium and antioxidants, but it is also very bitter. Cocoa is mixed with sugar and other substances to make ‘chocolate’ as we know it today. Therefore, when you are having a chocolate craving you could be craving simply the sugar and simply for the energy boost sugar highs can provide. We have all heard that around 2pm is when our circadian rhythms slow down. Have you ever thought why you feel like a nap after lunch? Or those of you who are coffee drinkers, this is also around the time of day we may feel like another latte or in my case, a piccolo latte.
Instead of reaching for the hidden stash of chocolates in the bottom drawer of your work desk, or having that afternoon pick me up coffee, try these simple tips!
1) Fruit salad and nuts – try making a bowel of fresh cut up fruit which will give you a burst of 1) natural antioxidants and satisfy that sweet tooth. A handful of nuts will also help to stablise your blood sugar and as a bonus nuts are rich in magnesium.
2) Eat consistent balanced small meals throughout the day – this will help to keep your blood sugar levels stable and stop you from peaking and crashing.
3) Try to minimise your carbohydrates for lunch – have you ever wondered why after a big pasta meal you’re ready for a sleep? Carbohydrates release serotonin which help you sleep, rest and recover. Not the kind of mood you need to be in when you have a meeting from 2-5pm.
4) Brush your teeth – don’t knock it till you try it. This works well for some people.
5) Keep up your fluids – make sure you have had enough water throughout the day. That chocolate you are craving may just be mistaken for a big glass of chilled H20.
By Vanessa Thomson-Pride
Nutritionist and public health speaker.
Are you feeling tired all the time for no good reason? Maybe you have noticed your energy levels are not what they use to be? Well…… this could mean your body needs a detox?!
What is a detox?
Toxins are harsh chemicals and waste that need to be eliminated by the body. This usually happens in the liver where a substance will be converted into a less toxic form and then the body will excrete it via the kidneys. There are so many toxins in our society today such as pollution, harsh household cleaning products, skin care, processed foods and loads more. Stress is also very toxic to the body causing the adrenal glands to secrete hormones such as cortisol, which keeps our body very stimulated in our primitive “fight” mode and also is responsible for that stubborn belly fat we all know too well.
Do I need a detox?
Detoxifying the body on a regular basis is considered to be critical to maintain ones optimal health as stated by head coach at Pro Path Performance, Anthony Toth. Anthony says, “I regularly incorporate detox methods into my clients programs to not only help them lose weight but to also increase their energy at training and in their everyday lives.”
Toxins that build up in the body can be an underlying cause for symptoms such as;
Skin and acne problems
Puffy eyes and allergies
General aches and pains
Along with healthy eating and reducing your alcohol, coffee, sugar and processed food consumption, here are five ways to assist your body to detoxify.
Far infrared light is part of the suns invisible light spectrum that our body uses to heal and repair. An infrared sauna uses this light and converts it into heat in order to penetrate deep into the tissues to remove and eliminate toxic build up through the skin. Compared to a standard sauna that heats up the air around you, the infrared sauna heats up the body from the inside. This stimulates the removal of toxins from deep within the tissues that ordinary saunas cannot do. Usually most people can comfortably tolerate this dry heat for up to 30 minutes. The cost usually varies from $30-$40 per treatment.
Ionic Detox Foot Spa
This old Chinese medicine detox method is fascinating and one I use quite often. An electronic device sits in the foot spa and ionizes the water by positively charging the negative ions in the body which are slow to exit, these are usually toxins within the body and this method helps facilitate the bodies own natural detox pathway. After only 15 minutes most people will see the colour of the water change. Different coloured water will depend on which part of the body the detox is helping most with. For example, brown water usually is associated with the liver and white foam is associated with the lymph system. A 30 minute treatment will usually cost around $35- $45.
Drinking tea is an easy detox method everyone can incorporate into there daily life. Different types of tea will help with different parts of the body to assist with the natural detox pathway. One particular type is African mango tea. Known to help detox the body, assist with weight loss, maintain blood sugar, aid with digestion and loads more. You can check out their website here; http://africanmangotea.com.au
Lymphatic Drainage Massage
Lymphatic massages are carried out by trained professionals who apply rhythmic and light pressure to certain points of the body to stimulate the lymphatic system, which is responsible for the bodies waste disposal. The lymphatic system has no connection to the heart and therefore it can easily become clogged and backed up especially when you are tired or ill. Lymphatic massages help to remove built up toxins, waste and fluid and is perfect when cleansing the body.
The perfect way to become in tune with your body, relax and unwind after a stressful day at work. Yoga is all about stretching your body and deep breathing, which will improve oxygen circulation and assist in the removal of toxins and waste. It is also a form of mediation and reducing stress. If you haven’t tried it yet, now may be the time.
By Vanessa Thomson-Pride
Nutritionist and Public Health Speaker