When you were a child, you were probably reminded to chew your food thoroughly before swallowing and not to eat too quickly. They’re not just weird rules that grown-ups made up – these are sensible advice to help you maintain your digestive well-being.
Take time to chew
Chewing does more than make lunch small enough to go down – it can also help you build muscle. “Larger protein molecules need to be fully chewed to be properly absorbed,” says Dr John Bennett of UK digestive disorders foundation, Core. Take your time on that steak.
Don’t eat too quickly
The oesophagus is a 25cm-long tube of muscle that transports morsels to your stomach. “Eat too quickly and you swallow air, leading to indigestion,” warns Dr Bennett. “You’ll need to take a gulp of liquid every three mouthfuls to prevent wind. Never swallow more than every three seconds.”
Avoid eating too close to bedtime
The oesophageal sphincter allows food into your stomach. “When it malfunctions, you get heartburn – stomach acid coming back up,” says Kevin Whelan, a nutritional scientist at King’s College in the UK. “You can prevent most heartburn by avoiding food within two hours of sleeping.”
Make your chyme more potent
The churning balloon of acid and enzymes transforms your meal into chyme – a semi-fluid mass your body can more readily use. You can make your chyme more potent with camomile tea taken three times a day between meals, which protects your stomach lining and boosts enzyme efficiency.
Up your daily zinc intake
Your small intestine is the 6.7m-long firehose hiding inside every man. Up your daily zinc intake to 15mg to get the full benefit of your meal, Harvard researchers advise. (You can get this amount from a 300g portion of beef). The mineral aids your processing of carbs. “Any that aren’t broken down here will dump into your large intestines, leaving you bloated,” warns Dr Bennett.
Drink prebiotic yogurt
“This sucks out any remaining water and vitamins to bolster your immune system,” says Whelan. Ensure a smooth passage by digesting a prebiotic yogurt three times a week.
Make sure you get sufficient fibre in your diet
The holding bay before the great exit. “Haemorrhoids in the lower rectum are typically caused by a lack of insoluble fibre in your diet,” warns Whelan. Just one 100g daily serving of oat flakes with wheat bran will provide your full 25g recommended dietary allowance.
Spread some vaseline if you have to
The end of the line. “The anal sphincter has bundles of exposed nerve fibres, so smear a little Vaseline if you’re feeling any discomfort, especially after eating spicy foods, ” says Whelan.