With the advent of ready-to-eat, highly processed and refined high-fat foods, digestion problems have become quite prevalent. The recommended daily intake of fibre for an adult is 30-40 gm per day, but people ingest only 10-15 gm every day.
Due to low fibre intake, you can develop digestion problems such as diarrhoea, flatulence, bloating, constipation and indigestion. Common conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, ulcers, heartburn, gas, feeling tired after eating, burping and discomfort are all indications that your digestive system is of kilter.
Why does it happen?
Inadequate amounts of magnesium can hamper digestion and cause acidity. Drinking raw vegetable juices such as mint, coriander, tomato and carrot will help in increasing the magnesium levels in your body. Chew your food well. Most of us eat food while watching TV, working on computers or otherwise engaged in some activity. So food is not chewed properly, and large chunks are swallowed and not broken down completely by the system. The saliva in your mouth contains digestive enzymes, which breaks down carbohydrates. Since the process of digestion begins in the mouth, proper chewing of food can help in better digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Fruits and vegetables are a good source of dietary fibre and help in cleaning our system. Fibre also has the ability to soften stools and provide bulk to them. Psyllium (isabgol) is good for bowel stimulation. Fibre also helps in lowering the cholesterol levels in your body.
Probiotics work like magic in improving digestion, and reducing gas and bloating. They also help in boosting immunity and lower your cholesterol levels. Digestive disturbances usually begin when the balance of good bacteria and harmful bacteria gets skewed. To increase your probiotic levels, consume curd, buttermilk, dhokla, idli or other fermented foods.
Several herbs such as ginger, pippali and lemon also improve digestion. Consume 1 tsp of ginger juice, 1 tsp of lemon juice and 1 tsp of honey after meals. Ginger also has blood-thinning properties and helps in pain relief. Pippali (Piper longum) helps increase gastric juices and improve appetite and digestion. It is found in many churans and can also be added to food or taken separately. A mixture of rock salt and lemon juice taken after meals also helps reduce gas.
Eat only when you’re hungry and not because it is mealtime. Avoid skipping meals. Drink warm water in between meals. All these tips will improve your digestion tremendously.
Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and the founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre