You could talk about what constitutes good digestive health for hours due to the complexity of all the different components that contribute to the vast machine that is the GI tract. However, to keep things simple and short, I will summarise that good digestive health basically means that you and your gut feel good at all times (or most of the time), especially, during and after eating. It’s that simple. Except it’s not that simple for vast numbers of the population, who’s bodies react in some undesirable form or another to what they are eating.
Digestive health is really the state of health that your gastrointestinal tract is in and its ability to properly digest and then assimilate the food that you ingest. Good digestive health generally equates to good general health as the growth, repair and renewal of your body is reliant on the quality and variety of nourishment that you feed it, as well as your gut’s ability to actually digest it. Your digestive system is the alchemist that transmutes water into wine (or in this case, food into nutrients for your cells).
Signs that you have good digestive health would be that you don’t get indigestion or acid reflux; that your stomach feels comfortable and calm after eating; that you don’t produce excess gasses; that you have comfortable, easy bowel movements at least once a day and ideally around the same time every day.
Signs that your digestive system is struggling would be things such as feeling heavy and bloated after eating; feeling pain and spasms in your bowels; feeing sluggish, tired or stagnant; feeling nausea after eating; having little or no appetite; irregular bowel moments that aren’t quick or easy to pass; loose stools or real urgency to have a bowel movement at different times of the day.
There are many different clues as to whats going on in your gut but it is important to tune into whether your body is happy with what you are feeding it, because if it isn’t, then things could potentially become more problematic, as gut health has been linked to medical issues such as autoimmune conditions, mental health issues, skin conditions, low immunity and just general feelings of ‘rubbishness’. If you think your gut is struggling then there are now some really good gut healing protocols out there which actually work. Diets such as the autoimmune protocol, (AIP) and gut & psychology syndrome (GAPS) are two of the most well known and are hugely advocated for by those that follow them.
We can’t talk about gut health and not mention bacteria as a huge factor in good gut health is the microbiome, which basically means the microscopic world of bacteria and other organisms that populate your digestive tract. It sounds a bit creepy, but actually they are essential to your gut health and your ability to stay alive. Many people will have an imbalanced microbiome due to factors such as not having being breastfed, antibiotic use, high sugar diet, or just general poor diet etc. The microbiome is being linked more and more to being essential for both physical and mental health which is why it should be at the top of your to do list, like so: 1) improve micro biome.
We traditionally would have had a vast and bountiful micro biome due to having a less sterile environment and a diet rich in fermented and wild foods. However, in the absence of these things, you can still make improvements by taking a great quality probiotic, of which there are now many. You just need to look for something with a 20+ billion cfu count, which basically means it has billions of live bacteria in every capsule. The good news is that the gut can recover if given the right conditions and environment.
Our original restaurant - The Real Coconut in Tulum, Mexico, can easily be called a ‘gut friendly restaurant’. The menu was designed specifically with digestive health in mind, as a place where people could eat and leave feeling good, even if they had serious gut health issues, as we recognised that the gut was the foundation for all round good health. The menu is free from gluten, grains, dairy and refined sugar whilst also being inclusive of vegans and vegetarians. It sounds impossible. But it wasn’t. We did it. And if you don’t believe us then you could always come and try it yourselves.
RHIANNON BAKER | HEALTH & WELLNESS AUTHOR