Introducing simple daily habits can make the world of difference to your digestive health.
It can be hard to make big changes all at once, so I often recommend introducing one habit, one day at a time. By the time you get to day seven, you'll be well on your way to boosting digestive vitality.
Day 1 – Start the day with hot water and a squeeze of lemon.
We're just getting started, so the task for day one is quite simple. Just after you wake up, boil the kettle, pour some hot water into a cup and add a squeeze of fresh lemon. According to Blackmores naturopath Jennifer McLennan, this remedy is commonly used by naturopaths for liver health and for settling the stomach. It is also a very refreshing way to start the day.
Day 2 – Take a probiotic supplement before breakfast
Probiotics provide beneficial bacteria help maintain the health of the digestive tract. They aid digestion, stimulate immunity and help to keep potentially harmful organisms at bay. Aside from supplementation, the main sources of probiotics are cultured milk products. Provided you’re not intolerant of, or allergic to, dairy products, including a good quality yoghurt into your breakfast routine is a good start.
For best results, though, taking a probiotic supplement enables you to get the right amount of goodies every time. So, on day 2, follow up your hot water with lemon with some probiotic goodness.
Day 3 – Have a peppermint tea after dinner
What a simple, pleasurable and digestively calming routine this one is! Once you get in the habit, you won't want to give it up. Peppermint tea after dinner is refreshing and hydrating, and as the weather is starting to take on a chill, it is warming to our senses. Peppermint can do wonders for settling nausea. It can also relieve flatulence and stomach pain by reducing spasm in the bowel and colon.
Day 4 – Have a teaspoon of unfiltered organic apple cider vinegar
This old-fashioned naturopathic remedy has never gone out of style. Jennifer McLennan says this remedy is a favourite amongst naturopaths for improving digestion. Simply add a teaspoon of unfiltered organic apple cider vinegar to a glass of water before your biggest meal daily and enjoy the benefits.
Day 5 – Introduce some 'bitter greens'
'Bitter greens' are, as the name suggests, bitter-tasting green vegetables. Examples are radicchio, chicory, dandelion leaves, rocket and silverbeet. These foods are commonly used in parts of Europe to aid digestion. When our tongue tastes the bitter taste, it causes our digestive juices to increase and this improves our body's ability to break down food material. Grapefruit also has a bitter taste, so it works in the same way. On day 5, start to incorporate some of these foods into your day.
Day 6 – Incorporate 'warming spices'
'Warming spices' such as ginger, cardamom, cumin and coriander help to improve sluggish digestion. For example, ginger increases the digestive juices in the stomach and stimulates the muscular movements needed to mix the juices with the stomach contents.
Day 7 – Eliminate processed foods
Processed foods are usually a far cry from what you would find in nature, and they may contain ingredients that the body does not find easy to digest. Always remember ‘fresh is best’ and choose foods as close to their natural state as possible. Just this step alone will do wonders for your digestive health – not to mention your overall health and sense of wellness!
References available on request