They might just help reduce bloating, cramping and constipation
By Naomi Mead
1. Go bitter
Digestive enzymes are essential for the breakdown and absorption of food, and bitter and sour foods naturally stimulate those digestive juices. Precede bigger meals with a bitter leaf salad of rocket, kale, and spinach with a squeeze of lemon juice. Or, have a glass of water with either the juice of ½ a lemon, or ½ tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar about half an hour before your meal, to get your digestion juices flowing.
2. Get spicy
Ginger is the perfect antidote for indigestion. It can soothe an upset stomach as well as helping to ease digestive cramps, nausea and bloating. Unfortunately, a ginger beer or a slice of ginger cake won’t do the trick, it needs to be the fresh ginger root to feel any benefits. You can make ginger tea by peeling a thumb-sized piece of root ginger (top tip: the easiest way is with the side of a teaspoon), slice, and steep in hot water with a slice of lemon for 5 minutes.
Fennel seeds are another fantastic digestive aid, traditionally used for thousands of years in Chinese, Indian and Western medicines. They contain compounds that can help to relax the smooth muscle in the digestive tract, helping to assist both cramping and bloating. Enjoy in the form of a tea, or alternatively chew on some fennel seeds after a heavy meal.
3. Move a bit
If you’re sluggish, your digestion will be sluggish too. Regular exercise helps with gut motility (ahem, it keeps you regular) by stimulating the natural contraction of intestinal muscles, helping to move food through your digestive system more rhythmically. Whilst the sofa may be the most tempting option post-dinner, a leisurely walk is what your digestive system will actually thank you for.
4. Stay hydrated
Water is essential for keeping things flowing through the digestive system. If you don’t get adequate water, the body tops up hydration levels by pulling water from the stools, making them hard and difficult to pass. Hello constipation! Water is also needed to produce the digestive juices that break down food, and without these, a variety of digestive problems can occur, from gas and bloating to nausea. Focus on drinking at least 2L of filtered water everyday. Tea, coffee, juice and some watery foods (tomato, celery, cabbage) top up your levels too.
Should you have any questions about treating gut health symptoms, remember to talk to your pharmacist or doctor.