Help your digestive health

Zenoyise Madikwa

Zenoyise Madikwa

Because of our hectic schedules, we often neglect our digestive health.

Kim Snyman, marketing manager Danone Clover South Africa, says excessive eating can play havoc with our digestive systems.

A combination of long periods of idleness in the taxi to work, dehydration and eating unhealthy foods lead to our systems being out of sync, leaving us feeling sluggish and uncomfortable.

Amagwinya (fat cakes), pap and vleis and other fast foods are enjoyed more by our taste buds than by our digestive systems.

Snyman says you can significantly promote your digestive health by adding probiotics to your diet, in combination with a healthy, balanced diet and active lifestyle.

Probiotics are live microorganisms which, when eaten live and in sufficient quantities, have a positive effect on digestive health beyond basic nutrition.

Tips to digestive nutrition :

1. Fabulous fibre

Foods with a high-fibre content are critical for your digestive system. Increase fibre levels in your diet gradually and then keep your daily intake as stable as possible.

2. Less is more

Eating smaller meals more frequently instead of the traditional three meals a day can be beneficial.

Snyman recommends eating four to five small meals a day while keeping your daily kilojoule intake about the same.

3. A fishy fact

Eat fish at least three times a week.

Fish contains Omega 3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory effects and may influence the progression of certain chronic conditions.

4. Maintain a healthy body weight

Being obese is unhealthy, but drastic unintentional weight loss may also affect digestive health so try to eat a balanced diet and maintain a healthy body weight.

5. Take out the take-out

Avoid eating oily, fried and fattening foods that contain too many saturated and trans fats, which not only increase "bad" cholesterol levels, but may also increase the risk of colon cancer. Try polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats found in cold water fish, raw walnuts, cold-pressed olive oil, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and avocado pears.

6. Keep it lean

Select lean meat cuts that contain less fat and may improve digestive comfort.

7. Water, water, water

Drinking a large amount of fluids helps maintain good digestive functioning and helps prevent constipation.

8. Exercise regularly

Exercise offers multiple health benefits and is also beneficial for your digestive function. Daily exercise promotes physical fitness and improves the natural rhythm of the digestive tract, assisting the passage of food and encouraging balance in your system.

9. Relax and enjoy.

Digestion begins in the mouth so it is important to eat slowly and chew carefully.

10. Diversify.

A balance is needed between starchy or carbohydrate-rich energy foods, protein-rich building foods and antioxidant-loaded protective foods such as fruit and vegetables.

11. Stress matters

Stress can significantly affect the digestive system . Effective stress releasing mechanisms and management methods are needed to balance not only our digestive systems, but our lives.

12. Moderate alcohol intake

The amount of alcohol we consume can affect digestion. Large quantities can irritate the stomach lining and cause heartburn and discomfort.

13. Cut the habit

Coffee, alcohol, smoking, chocolate, thick sauces and fatty, spicy or fried foods can interfere with healthy digestion.