Digestive health is often overlooked but it plays a big part in our overall health and therefore in how much energy we have for daily activities. It’s one of our Six Signals®, and the whole area of gut health is one that I find fascinating. We are learning more every day about the microbiota, and the 100 trillion bacteria that reside in our guts and the role they play in our immune health, body composition and mental health among other things.
I’ll be blogging more about the gut and microbiota in future posts, but for now, let’s start with the basics of digestion. Digestion starts before we’ve even swallowed food; the mere smell of food makes us salivate in preparation – ever walked past a bakery and smelt the croissants inside? There are enzymes in our saliva that help us break down foods – especially carbohydrates – so that they can be further broken down once they reach the small intestine. How we digest our food is dictated by several factors, most of which we can control. The main goal with digestion is to ensure that we have absorbed all the nutrients from our food, but this isn’t always a given.
Hormones are involved like leptin which indicates to the brain that we’re full, and ghrelin which is the signal for hunger. Serotonin is also involved which is a feel-good neurotransmitter, and scientists believe that up to 90% of the serotonin in the body is found in the gut (the other 10% being in the brain), which might explain why some of us comfort eat. It’s important to minimise hormonal disruption for good digestive health – disruptors include sugar, alcohol, poor sleep, chronic or prolonged stress, nicotine, being overweight and poor gut health.
But there is much you can do to ensure you’re optimising your energy levels by digesting your food well. Here are my 7 tips for good digestive health:
If you’re reading this, you’re are probably in a reasonably senior position, running your own business or have a busy life running the home and juggling other responsibilities. Either way, you’re busy. The convergent pressures of work and family life have probably meant that the time you did have to spend on health and fitness has disappeared. Why not talk to us and see how we can help.
Leanne Spencer is an entrepreneur, coach, TEDx Speaker, author of Remove the Guesswork, and founder of Bodyshot Performance Limited. Bodyshot is a health and fitness consultancy that helps busy professionals get more energy by removing the guesswork around their health, fitness and nutrition. Visit www.bodyshotperformance.com or email [email protected] to register your interest in our services and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.