Here are 10 ways to improve your digestion

1. Eat fibre

Fibre adds bulk to the food and is an all-important source of roughage. The roughage component in fibre aids the digestive system, helping the body's elimination process, and is therefore referred to as “Nature's broom”!

2. Drink water

Water regulates body temperature, assists the digestive system, transports nutrients and eliminates waste from the body. On an average you need 8 to 10 glasses of water every day.

3. Indulge wisely

When you are in a mood to indulge — cut back on quantities and savour the food in small portions. This is far better than going on an all-out binge which can cause indigestion.

4. Avoid large meals

Big meals are hard to digest and can make you feel sleepy. When you consume five to six small, healthy meals every day, your body needs more calories to break down the food, thereby helping to raise your body metabolism.

5. Sit down and eat slowly

It's easy to overeat when meals are grabbed on the run, or while standing in front of the refrigerator. Eat slowly, to give your body time to release the enzymes that tell your brain you've had enough.

6. Learn to differentiate between hunger and craving

If you're not sure whether or not you're actually hungry, drink a glass of fresh fruit juice or water, then ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?”

7. Watch the clock!

The later you eat, the harder it gets to digest the food. If you have to have a late dinner, eat a small snack in advance, that way you won't be ravenous at dinner time.

8. Don't overeat if you are stressed out

Avoid eating as an antidote to emotional pain. Whether it is alcohol, drugs or food, excess of any kind leads to digestion problems and weight gain.

9. Eat nutritious foods

Choose whole, organic items rather than refined, processed foods that are full of additives. To preserve nutrients, eat freshly cooked food, rather than frozen, or packaged foods.

10. Exercise regularly

Discover the benefits of regular exercise. Exercise not only helps your maintain a healthy weight, but also revs up your entire system.

Super foods that assist digestion

Ginger

Ginger contains an active constituent gingerol, which is responsible for its hot, pungent taste, as well as its stimulating and healing properties. Ginger is often used as a therapeutic spice, working on the digestive system by encouraging secretion of digestive enzymes.

Fennel

Fennel contains anethole, which stimulates secretion of digestive and gastric juices. Fennel also contains aspartic acid, which acts as an anti-flatulent. It is no wonder, many of us are in the habit of chewing fennel seeds after meals. Fennel is a digestive herb with many medicinal and culinary uses. It acts as a popular “after mint”.

Yoghurt

Yoghurt contains probiotics which are responsible for several activities in the gut; such as producing lactase; killing harmful bacteria and improving digestive tract function.

Fenugreek

Fenugreek leaves and seeds assist digestion, help relive constipation and help overcome flatulence. Tip: You can soak fenugreek seeds overnight and eat them next morning to help relieve you from digestive disorders.

Mint

Mint is used as a treatment for indigestion, colic, heartburn and flatulence. It also can stimulate the appetite and cure nausea and headaches. Peppermint tea can help soothe a dry throat.

Figs, prunes and raisins

These improve digestion and functioning of the stomach, spleen-pancreas and large intestine. Rich in iron and calcium, they also improve blood quality and build strong bones.

Papaya

Papaya contains the enzyme papain, which improves digestion. It reduces the risk of cancer, heart disease and cataracts. It also helps rid the body of intestinal worms, eases inflammation and combats constipation.

Pineapple

Pineapple is a diuretic, which detoxifies the body, purifies the blood, prevents blood clots and increases circulation. It contains the enzyme bromelin, which improves digestive functioning.

The writer is a certified Clinical Exercise Specialist, Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist.

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