After suffering from Ulcerative Colitis/Crohn’s disease for over 3 years, the whole time researching looking for the answers that would heal it my body naturally to allow it to digest food properly again, I learnt some simple techniques that can be done by everyone easily to help them digest food properly.
1. Drink Clean Water
Start drinking clean water every day, water is so important and it allows your body to function properly whilst helping to flush the body of toxins. Springwater is ideal as it contains natural minerals that help alkalise the body. otherwise, high quality filtered water is the next best option. Totally remove tap water from your diet, tap water is full of chlorine, fluoride and lead. (You may be surprised to know that a lot of old houses in the UK still have lead pipes leading the drinking water to there homes!) Chlorine kills off the good bacteria in the gut. The recommended sources of water are glass bottled spring water or a high-quality filter (such as reverse osmosis with remineralisation) can be used to remove the toxins. It is recommended to half your weight in pounds then drink that amount in ounces of water, I weigh 72 kg this equates to 2.3 liters of water a day to stay adequately hydrated.
2. Chew your food
The more you chew your food, the less your digestive system has to work to try and break it down when it gets to your stomach and intestines. The way I see it is that the more you chew your food, the more of its nutrients that you are going to absorb. Food should be chewed until it has no big bits of food left in it and has had sufficient time to mix with your saliva which aids in breaking down the food later in the digestive tract.
3. Ideally no water intake during and 1.5 – 2 hours after meals
I personally drink water up until 10 minutes before meals, this actually prepares your stomach for proper digestion, then when eating the meal it is advised to only drink one sip at a time if need. Then most importantly, depending on the time it takes to digest, make sure that you do not drink anything for the next 1.5 – 2 hours, this allows the body stomach to break down the food with the enzymes that it secrets. An interesting point is this stopped me experiencing heartburn and acid reflux. Also if you feel the need to drink to wash down the food, it most probably means that you are not chewing your food enough to allow the saliva to cover the food and do its job.
4. Relaxing at meal times
The best way to eat is to consciously eat food, this means to sit down, breathe, relax then enjoy your meal. aim to enjoy mealtimes and see it as a time to rest and digest. This means no phones and no T.V as distractions so then you can really enjoy your meal and ensure you are giving your digestive system a lovely predigested serving that can be easily absorbed.
This process is the bodies way of staying alkaline and also removing toxins. We always seem to be in a hurry nowadays, rushing around with our bodies in fight or flight mode. I personally have had to work hard at consciously making an effort to breathe as with a busy mind, I often used to forget to breathe for long periods of time. Focusing on your breathing really does help to bring you into the present moment and be present in the moment which does wonderful things inside the body.
6. Eliminating sugar from your diet
Sugars actually have been shown to suppress the immune system for 4-8 hours after consumption whilst also promoting unhealthy bacteria growth in your gut, this leads to inflammation and irritation. Another problem with sugar in the diet is that when eaten and digested it ferments food in the intestines whilst it is trying to digest it. Lastly, it is advised to just cut out sugar and artificial sweeteners completely as artificial sweeteners have been shown to have even worse effects on the microbiome and can even lead to glucose intolerance.
7. Eat clean foods to limit toxins entering your body
With so much information flying around it is easy to get lost in what is good or bad for your health. Keep it simple, look past the bold misleading promotional slogan’s on the packet such as “diet, low fat, sugar-free, natural etc” and look at the actual ingredients list. This may surprise you! Go for simple fresh foods where you can recognize the ingredients … Just remember the more additives, preservatives, artificial sweeteners and flavourings, the more chemicals accumulating in your body.
8. If you don’t have time… Blend it up!
This is my favourite ‘cheat’ and the perfect way to ensure that you are getting all the nutrients and goodness from your food. Blending up meals is the convenient way to get nutrients in quick in our fast-paced lives, they are also ideal as the food is “pre-digested” and a lot less taxing on your digestive tract. When blending up meals, really look into what ingredients you can throw in there that will help give your body what it needs; for example, I always love to add the probiotic drink kefir into my smoothies along with something like fresh spinach for fibre and vitamins then maybe some fresh ginger root to boost the immune system. This is my favourite ‘cheat’ and the perfect way to ensure that you are getting all the nutrients and goodness from the meals that you are having.
9. Get as much plant-based Fibre in as possible
This is a big one for myself and others as we are lead t believe that when your digestive system is causing you pain and problems, to go on a low fibre diet. I myself did this for years but it actually just worsens symptoms as Fibre is essential for a healthy microbiome and digestive system.
Here is the advice that I share with people to sneak a diverse range of vegetables in there most digestible form into their meals… Blend it + Boil it
It is that simple, wash and peel your vegetables, blend up with a small amount of water and boil it in the pan. The blender ensures that the vegetables are in there most pre-digested form whilst boiling the soup loses some of the enzymes and goodness compared to raw vegetables, it still nourishes your intestines and gives them the required environment to produce a protective mucosal lining which is basically your immune systems strongest defensive mechanism? It is also a good way to get loads of vegetables in your diet without all the chewing.
These steps have really helped me and others with digestion and the other related problems and I am sure they will also help you too.