Digestive health: How to cleanse and de-clutter
As we enter a new year, I’m sure many of us have intentions of reorganizing and de-cluttering our life but it’s not just the materialistic things we should be fixing up, we have to remember to clean out and refresh our physical self too!
One of the easiest ways to achieve this is through a healthy digestive system. Our gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) is where our food is broken down fur ther and nutrients are absorbed. Our GI tract is largely influenced by our diet-for instance, over consumption of processed foods, high in sugar and fats as well as insufficient intake of fruits and vegetables. This can cause a build-up of toxic chemicals and waste products in our body that may result in us constantly feeling fatigued, bloated and uncomfortable all the time. Additionally, this also restricts the nutrients being absorbed and we are unable to function effectively.
One simple way to de-clog our digestive system is through a high fibre diet. Fibre can be categorised into soluble and insoluble compounds, both of which are essential in ensuring healthy bowels. Soluble fibre includes pectins and gums that swell up upon addition of water. These fibres encourage peristalsis, so that by-products can move through our intestines towards our colon and be eliminated from the body. Soluble fibres have also shown to carry other benefits such as reducing the blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels.
Insoluble fibre on the other hand does not breakdown or get absorbed into the body, some examples are cellulose and hemicullose which are known as the structural part of the plant that is highly indigestible. Insoluble fibres add bulk to faeces and may relieve constipation so as to promote a healthy bowel.
When our GI tract is constantly kept in-check and is not clogged up with toxins and residual waste products we start to gain more energy and feel less discomfort. Incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables is a great way to increase your fibre intake as they have not undergone intense processing to become a packaged, nutrient-hollow food. You should include natural fibre sources such as figs, prunes, sweet potato, pumpkin, wholegrains and nuts and seeds to bump up your fibre content. Alternatively, if you are short of time and need a convenient source of fibre, supplement your diet with psyllium husks or a formulated fibre-rich powder that supports happy, healthy digestion.
Anderson J et al., 2009, ‘Health benefits of dietary fibre’, Nutrition Reviews, 67 (4): pp. 188-205
Schneeman B, 2008, ‘Advanced Dietary Fibre Technology: Dietary fibre and Gastrointestinal’, Technology & Engineering, pp. 168-173