Digestive Tips to get you New Year "Gut Ready"

The New Year is looming and many of us will be resolving to ramp up the hours in the gym to get in shape.  Unfortunately, a body that looks great on the outside doesn’t necessarily mean it’s functioning well on the inside.  So if your digestive system is already on the delicate side or you’re prone to bloating, trapped wind or gas, the New Year is a good time to prepare your inner ecosytem for the challenges ahead. 

 The ecology of the digestive system is not affected by diet alone but can also be disrupted by stress, emotional upset and anxiety all of which tend to be in abundance at this time of the year too.  Stress triggers a change in pH levels (the acid/alkaline balance) of digestive tract leading to an overgrowth of harmful organisms such as unfriendly bacteria, yeast (candida) and protozoa which can lead to diarrhoea, constipation, bloating and painful trapped wind.

According to dietitian Emer Delaney, there’s mounting evidence that a healthy ecosystem of gut bacteria can bring a wide range of health benefits. Improving your inner ecology is easier than it seems and there are many simple things you can do:

1.   Swap the latte for a fennel tea. Clinical studies have shown that drinking 2-3 cups of fennel tea every day can help regulate contractions of the small intestine and gas expulsion too. Fennel also relaxes the gut, which can help relieve GI tract spasms.

2.   Strengthen your inner ecosystem by eating pickled vegetables.  A daily spoonful of pickled vegetables are really good for your gut. They’re rich in enzymes, vitamins and nutrients and help to balance your inner ecosystem and enhance digestion. Vegetables are very easy to ferment and you can experiment with different combinations, even adding a Christmas twist!

3.   Eliminate sugary, carbonated drinks.  Studies show that drinks with high levels of sugar or containing artificially sweeteners can change how your gut bacteria metabolizes energy. They can also trigger an inflammatory response altering the good bacteria and yeast living in your digestive tract.

 4. Try a good quality probiotic supplement. The best way to support gut health is to introduce probiotics. There are many different types on the market but only a handful are supported by sound clinical evidence. One Emer recommens to patients is Alflorex, a food supplement containing the unique 35624 culture.  The 35624 culture has been clinically studied in IBS patients and has been shown to increase regularity, decrease gas and bloating and help prevent constipation and diarrhoea.

 5. Watch your alcohol intake –At this time of year, it’s so easy to indulge in the celebrations.  Remember that drinking alcohol excessively can reduce the number of healthy bacteria in your digestive tract.  Alcohol is also a real irritant to the gut and can contribute to GI symptoms such as bloating and diarrhoea.  Make sure to have some alcohol free days over Christmas and alternate your drinks with non-alcoholic verities and choose wine spritzers instead of wine.

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