7 Tips to Boost Your Digestion at the Office

Based on what I see in the clinic, the prevalence of digestive disorders seems to be ever increasing. So much so that it is unusual to see someone who doesn’t experience some form of digestive disturbance – whether it be constipation, loose bowels/diarrhoea, indigestion, acid reflux, bloating, distension, discomfort or cramping, or more serious conditions such as Crohn’s.

This is a serious issue, as so much of our health begins in our colon – up to 80% of our immune cells can be found in the gut. The small intestine is the area in which nutrients are assimilated from our food to be used throughout the body. If this is not functioning optimally, our immune system will be compromised and we will not benefit from the nutrients required for good health and welbeing.

iStock_000019381215_SmallAfter several years of observing this pattern among clients, I have found certain small changes to provide huge benefits for the majority of people. Particularly those who work long hours at a desk, feel stressed and who experience the most severe symptoms at lunch. Of course, in cases of disease or severe nutritional deficiency, medical intervention is necessary and these tips may not be sufficient to ease your symptoms.

Here are 7 tips to aid your digestion at the office:

1. Take 5 minutes

Take 5 minutes break from your desk before eating your lunch. I know you’re busy but add 5 minutes to the end of your day and it will be worth it.

Use this time to sit quietly and focus your attention on your breathing. After a few minutes, you will feel calmer and more relaxed, which kickstarts your digestive system. Stress causes your digestive system to slow right down and reduces the production of the necessary digestive enzymes. Add food and it will sit there fermenting, causing sluggish digestive transit, bloating, discomfort and pain.

Alternatively, high stress and anxiety causes your body to think it is in danger. Instead of digesting it over time, it rushes the food through you system, causing loose stools or diarrhoea and you will not absorb the nutrients effectively.

2. Avoid Restrictive Clothing

Women in particular often choose skirs with tight waistbands that compress the stomach and can interfere with the breakdown of food, causing discomfort and unpleasant symptoms. Choose fitted clothes that allow more ‘give’.

3. Slow Down!

If you demolish your food at great speed, your body does not adapt quickly enough to producing the necessary enzymes required to break it down. Again this often causes bloating, pain, gas and constipation.

4. Eat Warm Foods

This is often tricky at work but wherever possible choose a warm lunch, such as soup or salad with warm chicken or fish. Warm foods are much easier for the body to digest. Cold foods require a lot of energy by the digestive system to break them down and when yours is already struggling, this will exacerbate the problem. Where this isn’t possible, combine your lunch with a herbal tea such as ginger or mint – a double whammy with the heat and the digestive supporting benefits of the herbs or spice.

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5. Drink Water Through the Day

As well as fibre, your colon needs plenty of water to provide a lubricated passage within which food can travel. If the cells of the intestine are dry, your digestion will be sluggish, you will feel bloated and constipated and you may have difficulty passing a bowel movement.

Simply have a large bottle of water at your desk and sip gradually through the day (less around lunchtime). If you drink cups of tea or sugary drinks, this will dehydrate you further so you will need an extra glass of water to counteract their effects. Herbal teas are also a fantastic way to keep you hydrated and your digestive fire stoked up.

6. Keep Moving

If your work is based at a desk, it is likely you will not be very active during your day. Without movement, your digestive system slows right down and can cause some uncomfortable symptoms. Simply getting up from your desk, stretching and moving around every hour will encourage blood and lymph circulation. This will encourage the cells of your digestive system and tell them they need to start working.

7. Choose Wisely

Avoid refined sugars like the plague to keep your tum happy. This includes white bread, pasta, rice and sugary treats – particularly high fructose corn syrup, which is very hard to digest and is often found in cereal bars etc.

These types of foods are known to cause inflammation in the cells and are often associated with bloating. They also have next to no nutritional value whatsoever and your body won’t thank you for it. Instead, it will tell you that you are hungry again in a couple of hours, as it searches for nutrients to feed your cells.

Choose protein, plenty of vegetables and carbohydrate such as quinoa, buckwheat pasta or sweet potato to provide energy for your brain to keep it raring all afternoon!

Bio garlic, spices and wild mushrooms from the home garden

Try some of these tips at work and notice how much of a difference it makes to your symptoms and level of discomfort. Outside of the office, ensure to include exercise and movement into your daily routine, have an abdominal-sacral massage every 4-6 weeks and learn how to carry out a daily self-massage for your tum.