top of page

Beat the bloat - happy world digestive health day!

Cramps, bloating, excessive farting, diarrhoea, constipation, heartburn, indigestion, tummy ache… Digestive problems are really common and can happen to anyone. In fact, one of the Beingwell family members mum once had a poo behind a busy bus shelter in broad daylight! When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go!

Around 4 in 10 people have at least one digestive symptom at any one time, according to Dr. Anton Emmanuel, consultant gastroenterologist at University College Hospital in London.

"Most digestive problems are to do with lifestyle, the foods we've eaten, or stress. Which means that taking steps to change your lifestyle can help, and often prevent, many of these problems," says Dr Emmanuel.

So what can we do to nurture our tummy and support healthy digestion?

Feed the good bacteria

Our gut is home to about 100 trillion bacteria that digest our food, regulate our hormones, eliminate toxins and produce key nutrients. That’s almost ten times more than the number of cells in the entire human body! If we gathered all of our gut bacteria together, they’d weigh around 1kg (the equivalent to a bag of sugar). Our wellbeing depends on maintaining a harmonious balance between good and “bad” intestinal bacteria.

To increase our good bacteria fill up on fiber (read Fiber, Poo, and Living Longer), avoid unnecessary antibiotics, cut back on eating foods high in saturated fats and experiment with fermented foods such as sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi (Korean spicy cabbage), and miso (a Japanese paste made from fermented soya beans). Whilst taking a probiotic supplement likely won’t hurt, there’s little evidence to support many health claims made about them.

Eat nourishing foods

The process of digestion turns our food into nutrients that are needed to function and survive. Our bodies use these vital nutrients for energy, growth and cell repair. We are, literally, what we eat!

Red meat, dairy products, and fried foods all reduce the growth of healthy bacteria and enhance the growth of “bad” bacteria linked to chronic disease. If we’re used to eating mountains of beef, cheese, and chips (loaded fries anyone?), small changes can make a big difference.

Try adding in one extra vegetable or fruit at each meal. Experiment and mix-it-up, aim for variety and think of “eating a rainbow” to include a smorgasbord of different-coloured veg and fruit.

Chew, chew, chew!

Chewing is the essential first step of healthy digestion. When we chew our food, it gets broken down into smaller pieces and is mixed with saliva, meaning it’s easier to digest. Chewing well allows our bodies to extract the greatest possible amount of nutrients from the foods we eat.

Chewing can also give us increased enjoyment (and we’re all for that!). The pleasure we get from food slowly decreases during a meal. This weird phenomenon is known as “satiety cascade”. Slowing down, chewing our food fully, and taking our time gives our taste buds more opportunity to experience yumminess. It also boosts our feelings of fullness.

If we find eating slowly or mindfully tricky, it can help to pop our cutlery down between mouthfuls. Turning off the telly and focusing on what we’re eating can also help (if we’re able to pull ourselves away from the latest episode of Eastenders).

Ditch the fizz

Ditch the fizzy pop! We know, we know… it’s hard. If you’re an avid fan of fizzy drinks and can’t bear to live without them maybe try limiting the amount or swopping occasionally to have water, herbal tea, dilute sugar-free squash, sparkling water with a bit of fresh fruit, or decaf tea or coffee without added sugar. Fizzy drinks can play havoc with our digestion (and our health).

Staying hydrated is extraordinarily important to keep our digestive systems in tip-top health. Water is a key component in absorbing nutrients, helping to move food through our intestines and soften our poo. According to the NHS, we should be aiming to drink 6-8 glasses of liquid a day (around 1.2 litres), not including alcohol. Sorry!

Sooth stress

Research has shown that our mood and overall mental health can affect our digestive system and vice versa, due to the “gut-brain connection”. For some of us, stress slows down digestion, causing bloating, pain and constipation, while in others it speeds it up, causing diarrhoea and frequent trips to the loo. Ever had a dodgy tummy just before a job interview?

It's really easy to spend our working lives eating on the move or at our desks, gulping down food between meetings and then crashing out in front of the TV with a takeaway in the evenings. Try and keep mealtimes happy and relaxed. Set the table (even if we’re only setting it for one), sit down to eat, pop on some chilled music, take a deep breath before starting, and consciously enjoy our new found love of chewing.

Head over to Copingwell for loads more tips on how to reduce stress and stay as calm and serene as a Hindu cow.


A final note: All of us have short-lived gut problems from time to time. For the most part, they tend to settle down with a few small tweaks. If bloating or digestive issues persist though, book an appointment with the GP to rule out a more serious condition.




We noticed you have accessed our latest blogs but are not registered!

If you wish to register with your company, click the Contact Us button and let us know!

bottom of page