“My passion for training people along their health and fitness journeys, stems from my own path towards improved physical health. As a very overweight teenager I took it upon myself to lose weight and create a happier and healthier lifestyle. My knowledge and love for cooking and nutrition allow me to create and promote a balanced, healthy lifestyle. Recently, I stepped on stage for my first ever physique competition. It was an amazing experience and I was so proud of how far I had come from those days as an overweight teenager. It just goes to show what hard work, passion and consistency can produce in the long run.” – Sam
What is Digestion?
Digestion is the body’s process of breaking down food into smaller, water-soluble pieces. These pieces are then transported into the bloodstream and around the body. The nutrients from the broken down food are then used for everyday human functions. Examples include muscle repair, energy and general health.
Why is digestion so important?
- You have the best nutrition plan.
- You buy the highest quality food products.
- You eat every meal on time.
Yet, if your digestion isn’t as effective as it should be, the 3 things above don’t matter so much!
For example, you may aim to eat 200g of protein a day. The perfect amount to grow some quality muscle mass. The problem is, you don’t digest the 200g of protein as well as you could do. Maybe only 150g gets transported to the muscle cells? Repeat that every day and that’s 350g of muscle-building protein down the toilet (literally!).
So how do you stop this from happening? Here’s 5 methods that I do myself and instruct my clients to do too:
- Remove intolerant foods
The biggest culprits here are dairy, gluten and sugar (including alcohol). Remove these and I promise after a matter of days your digestion and gut will feel better.
Eggs, nuts and anything that you may eat every day can also be problematic.
If you aren’t sure, carry out your own elimination diet:
This involves completely removing the food you think is causing problems for at least 3 weeks. Then re-introduce the food slowly and see how you feel.
No digestion problems? Great. That food has the all clear! If not, you may have to find an alternative that doesn’t disagree with you.
- Chew your food and eat slower
Remember your parents shouting at you when were a little kid. ‘Chew your food!’ Well, turns out, they were onto something.
By chewing your food more, you are breaking it down into smaller pieces. This means your digestive system doesn’t have to work overtime to do this for you.
This goes hand in hand with eating slower. Give your digestive system time to properly digest each mouthful. As a consequence, you will end up feeling fuller and more satisfied after every meal.
- Don’t drink liquids around meals
Try this. Don’t drink any liquids for 15 minutes before your meal, with your meal and 15 minutes after your meal.
Why? Liquids dilute the gastric acids in the gut and stomach. Less acid makes it harder to break down the food, leading to fewer nutrients absorbed. Simple.
- Take a probiotic and a digestive enzyme supplement
Probiotics promote healthy bacteria in the gut, which is were a lot of problems occur in people. Healthier gut equals easier ingestion of food.
Quality digestive enzymes support the body’s natural digestive processes. This makes the whole digestion process far more effective.
Take both of these together after your last meal.
- Consume the following ‘trick’ foods/liquids
Dietary fibre: Speeds up and keeps the digestion process moving along nicely. The indigestible portions of plants (eg. skins of fruit and veg) are the best sources.
Apple cider vinegar: Add a tablespoon to every meal or mix with water. Also, helps with insulin sensitivity.
Hot water and lemon: Consume 20 minutes before a meal, usually your largest one of the day. This will prepare your stomach for the food that’s coming. It also helps flush toxins out your body!