Do you often have trouble digesting your food, and suffer frequent stomach problems such as heartburn, bloating or acid reflux? Here are 7 questions to ask yourself, or to ask your doctor!
1) Could you be lactose intolerant?
When stomach problems are recurrent, it could be linked to lactose intolerance. Try avoiding dairy products, especially fermented products, for 5 days to a week (animal milks, yoghurts, cheeses, creams, etc.). If you notice a reduction in your stomach problems, consult your doctor in order to arrange for supplementary tests which will be able to confirm whether you are suffering from lactose intolerance.
Ideally, go for milks and products that come from vegetable sources, such as oat milk, coconut milk, almond milk, rice milk or soya milk, which are rich in calcium.
2) Could you be intolerant to gluten?
Common digestive problems such as heartburn, bloating and gas, etc. can often be the symptoms of gluten intolerance. When certain flours such as wheat, barley or rye are mixed with water, starch and gluten are formed.
3) Are you drinking enough water?
We are supposed to drink at least 2 litres of water per day (for an adult), because water helps us to better digest our food and eliminate toxins.
Some mineral waters which are rich in bicarbonates are great for making up for mineral deficiencies, such as Vichy. They can also reduce gastric acid in the stomach.
4) Are you eating enough fibre?
Numerous foodstuffs contain fibre, such as fresh or dried fruit, vegetables, walnuts, hazelnuts, dried beans and whole grain cereals.
Insoluble fibres absorb water and speed up digestion, while soluble fibres form a gel in the intestines which facilitates the elimination of food waste. Nutritionists recommend consuming a minimum of 30 g of fibre per day. Avoid cereals enriched with bran, as this can irritate the intestines.
5) Are you getting enough exercise?
Getting regular exercise or physical activity (walking, gardening, etc.) promotes intestinal transit. But sport also has many other health benefits.
6) Do you take at least 20 minutes to eat?
The brain requires around 20 minutes before it can register the feeling of fullness -a less full stomach will put less pressure on the oesophagus, and reduce the risk of acid reflux. In practice: chew each bite well before swallowing. You could even try timing yourself, to ensure you are taking at least 20 minutes to eat each meal.
7) Avoid certain foods and products
To take care of your stomach and avoid gastric problems, such as heartburn, reduce your consumption of:
- fizzy drinks
- fatty foods and products (cured meats, red meat, creamy sauces, cheese, butter, etc.)
- cooked cabbage, onions, white beans
- spicy dishes
- citrus fruits