What does healthy digestion look like?

How do you know if your digestion is healthy or not?

Looking at how you feel on a day to day basis is one key. Do you feel sluggish and drained of energy or energised and healthy?

Another way is to analysis your stools (poo). I know it may seem like a strange thing to do but as a naturopath it’s very normal as stools tell us a lot about what’s going on within your gut and can be the answer to why you’re suffering from chronic health and/or skin conditions.

You can learn to know the signs of a healthy digestion vs. an unhealthy one by knowing what to look for within your stools.

What is digestion?

The digestive system is a very long tube that starts with the mouth and finishes with the rectum. It acts like a factory where food is processed and prepared for the body to utilise or remove waste products that don’t serve the body.

The three stages of digestion are:

1. Breaking down food into nutrients mainly occurs in the mouth and stomach
2. Absorption of nutrients mainly occurs within the small and large intestine
3. Elimination of toxic waste occurs via the rectum (end of large intestine)

What’s normal?

It’s often tricky for people to know if their digestion is problematic as their digestive patterns have been going on since childhood and possibly reflect that of one or both parents. So, often people may think their digestion is normal when it’s not.

Some signs of poor digestion
  • Feeling sluggish and tired all the time
  • Problematic skin conditions – acne, eczema or psoriasis
  • Food intolerances – especially fructose intolerance
  • Poor immunity – slow wound healing and/or chronic infections
  • Feeling like you’re not absorbing nutrients – feeling depleted
  • Burping, indigestion, bloating, abdominal cramping, nauseousness, gas
  • No appetite or binge eating

Take a look in the loo

Get into the habit of checking out your stools before you flush.
It doesn’t take much, just look in the loo before and after you flush, and note the following signs and symptoms of healthy or unhealthy stools.

Healthy stools

1. Evacuating bowels at least once daily
2. Emptying bowels completely
3. Stools are sausage like or clumps that are formed, soft and smooth
4. Colour medium to dark brown
5. Easy to pass

Unhealthy stools

1. Inconsistent with frequency and appearance of stools
2. Not passing stools daily
3. Urgency and diarrhoea
4. Needing to strain
5. Signs of blood, mucous or undigested food

What affects digestion?

It starts with how we’re eating along with what we’re eating.
We really are what we eat and our health depends on a healthy digestive system breaking down this food properly and providing the nutrients we need to feed our body.
But, we also need to consider how we’re feeling when we’re eating as emotions have a profound effect on our ability to digest food effectively.

Foods and emotions to minimise

These foods, drinks and emotions can aggravate the gut and therefore have a negative impact on your digestion:
• Alcohol
• Caffeine
• Refined sugar
• Saturated fats
• Anger, anxiety, stress
• Over-excitement or hyperactivity

Tips for healthy digestion

Mindful eating is the key to a happy and healthy digestive system:
1. Stimulate digestion with a bitter tonic five minutes before a meal
2. Sit down to eat
3. Chew lots – savour every mouthful, place your knife and fork down between bites
4. Never drink water with meals as it dilutes stomach acid
5. Make every meal a celebration

Foods and lifestyle tips to embrace

The following foods and drinks support healthy digestion.
• Purified water: at least two litres per day.
• Soluble and insoluble fibre: fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
• Essential fatty acids: organic nut and vegetable oils.
• Fermented foods: yoghurt, keffir, kimchi, sauerkraut.
• Vegetable and lean animal protein.
• Balance exercise and relaxation daily.
• Pranayama – deep breathing techniques.

If you have any concerns about your digestive health I would advice checking with your local naturopath, as there’s so much we can do to support you establishing healthy digestion which is so vital for our overall health and vitality.

Don’t struggle alone. Call Belinda 0400 225 771 today to book a naturopathic consultation or secure your place in one of her 10 week gentle yoga/mindfulness programs.

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