Discomfort, lethargy, heartburn and bloating all happen when:
- Your diet is out of balance.
- You are tired, stressed or dehydrated
- You have been sitting down for a long time (we were built for movement).
The good news is that with a little respect and care for your lifestyle, your gut will reward you with more energy, fewer cravings and better, overall health. You may also notice a physical difference as the bloating stops, your digestion work more smoothly and your skin enjoys a welcome boost.
1) ADDRESSING YOUR DIET.
It’s a sad fact of life that cheap, processed food is often the most profitable to food manufacturers. As such, it’s packaged to be easy, tempting and convenient to consume. It does not help that our bodies are hardwired to crave salt, sugar, heat and fat (for example, that fried doughnut). A hundred thousand years ago, this was a good strategy for avoiding starvation. Now, it’s the path to obesity, with the extra flavouring added to disguise the bland food base.
What your body actually needs is a blend of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats) that carry all the micronutrients and minerals you need. Vitamin E, C and D, for example, helps to balance your gut flora as well as maintain your skin. Zinc acts as an anti-inflammatory agent for acne breakouts, in addition to protecting your immune system against invaders. How you look and what you eat are intimately linked. Whilst your skin does absorb vitamins from your facial creams, you still need to build healthy foundations from below, through your food.
2) ADDRESSING YOUR LIFESTYLE
If you are regularly going to bed late, feeling stressed or swapping water for coffee, your body will rebel. Asking it to cope with such conditions is the same as driving a car without maintenance, oil or water refills: something is going to go wrong. Sleep deprivation reduces your judgement and reaction times to the same level as being drunk. Just skipping on one or two hours a night rapidly builds up a sleep deficit that hurts every level of body function.
Stress is another factor in gut distress and fatigued skin: both as a cause of sleep deprivation and as a body attack in its own right. The hormone, cortisol, plays a starring role in this drama as the levels rise up to cause pain or bloating in your stomach before triggering outbreaks on your skin. Tapping, meditation and water intake all help as short-term fixes, but the best long-term one is to remove the source of stress.
Finally, most of us are bad at drinking water and often mistake hunger for dehydration. Just by setting a timer on your phone reminding you to drink every two hours can help improve your habits.
3) REMOVING THE CHAIR (OR SOFA).Just moving about has a positive effect on our circulation, but recent studies have gone further to show that regular exercise helps your gut bacteria, reducing inflammation and increasing their diversity (which is good for breaking down your food). It also reduces weight gain, stress and chronic inflammation. Office workers are the most at-risk sedentary group, but it also applies if you watch TV for two hours every night.
– Get up every half-hour. This works out nicely for advertising breaks (TV) and scheduling tasks. (computer users).
– Hold standing meetings. Sell this as a productivity tool to your co-workers: it’s amazing how much quicker everyone is when they are not perched on a chair
– If you are working from home, you can actually pack in an entire hour of fitness across your day, with five-minute stretches and strength training.
– Make good use of your lunch hour. Brisk walking, a quick workout or even skipping for a few minutes before you eat will help your digestion and counter that mid-afternoon sluggish feeling.