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6 steps to better digestion

A new, independent IBS study commissioned by Alflorex (, set out to produce the most comprehensive study ever conducted on IBS sufferers. More than 1,000 IBS sufferers were polled in an effort to better understand how this chronic digestive condition impacted on their lives.

The study found that unmanaged IBS can lead to social isolation and even depression, and 53.6% believe that their IBS can lower their self-confidence. 46.3% of respondents said their IBS makes them feel depressed and (1 in 5) 18.6% of sufferers say their IBS makes them feel lonely or isolated.

According to Dr Simon Smale, Consultant Physician and Gastroenterologist at York Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust:“IBS significantly affects quality of life and patients can end up being isolated from friends, family, colleagues and even their partners as a result of IBS flare-ups. IBS symptoms such as unpredictable bowel movements may mean they constantly need to be within reach of a toilet. There is also the pain from abdominal cramps and the distress caused by bloating.

Six top tips for digestive health

According to Nutritionist Patrick Holford (, most digestive problems are easily resolved through a step-by-step-step digestion challenge, which includes food intolerance testing, digestive enzyme and probiotic supplement, swapping modern wheat for ancient Kamut®wheat and increasing soluble fibre.

His recommendations are as follows:

· Find out which foods your body fights with a food intolerance test with YorkTests’ Food&DrinkScan fingerprick test (

· Try digestive enzymes with probiotics such as Digestpro if you suffer from bloating, indigestion or heartburn

· Substitute modern wheat for ancient Kamut wheat

· Increase your intake of soluble fibres from oats and chia seeds. If you suffer from constipation try Carboslow glucomannan fibre.

· Reduce your intake a red meat, eating more wholefoods - nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruit and fish instead.

· Drink six glasses of water a day, cold or hot as in teas.

Some foods that are good for your gut include:

1. Cinnamon

“Cinnamon is a lovely spice to add to your food. Not only does it improve digestion but it also helps to balance blood sugar levels,” explains Shona Wilkinson, Nutritionist at, the online shopping destination for all things health and wellbeing.

2. Activated Charcoal

“Activated charcoal contributes to reducing excessive flatulence after eating. Taken after each meal, charcoal is able to absorb a hundred times of its own weight in toxins,” explains Nutritionist, Cassandra Barns.

3. Bone broth

“Bone broth is important for healing the gut and aiding healthy digestion. The gelatine found in bone broth is a hydrophilic colloid, which means it attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices, thereby enhancing digestion. Bone broths are also rich in glycine, an amino acid (protein) found in collagen, which is important in maintaining a healthy gut lining,” says Shona.

4. Mint

‘Mint has been shown to help soothe the abdomen and relax digestive discomfort,” explains Shona. Why not enjoy a warming cup of herbal tea this evening after dinner.

6. Turmeric

“Turmeric is rich in curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties and is particularly useful for inflammation in the gut. Turmeric also helps with fat digestion along with supporting the liver. To make sure you’re getting your daily dose try CurQuMax, (£10.45, by Quest Vitamins, which combines curcumin from the spice turmeric and the amino acid DL-phenylalanine along with piperine from black pepper to provide an anti-inflammatory natural solution, to help manage everyday aches and pains,” says Cassandra.

7. Fermented foods

“The likes of sauerkraut, pickled vegetables in brine, yoghurt, buttermilk and kefir help feed the friendly bacteria which reside in our gut helping them to multiply in a healthy environment,” says Shona.

8. Oats!

“Including oats in your diet provides you with fibre and an increase in faecal bulk. Having extra faecal bulk will aid in regular bowel movement. Make sure that you are consuming 7-9 portions of vegetables and fruit too! Try porridge for breakfast with flax seeds and berries!” suggests Cassandra.

And the worst for tummy woes are…

According to Dr Marilyn Glenville (

1. Coffee

Coffee stimulates peristalsis, the wave-like muscle contractions that move food through the digestive tract. So with IBS, coffee should be avoided in order to reduce these contractions.

2. Chewing gum

Chewing gum makes you swallow too much air, which gets trapped in your digestive system causing pressure, bloating and gas. The same thing can happen if you gulp air when snacking on the run, eating too quickly, talking while eating or drinking from a straw.

3. Cruciferous vegetables

Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage may cause bloating and excess wind. For some people these vegetables are not digested completely in the small intestines due to a lack of enzymes. It means that when they reach the large intestines, bacteria in that part of the gut can cause gas and bloating when breaking down those foods.

4. Plums

Stone fruits like plums are packed with sugar alcohols, which can ferment causing bloating and gas.

5. Legumes

Beans like soya, lentils and chickpeas contain oligosaccharides, a type of naturally occurring sugar in the beans, which are normally digested by bacteria in the large intestines. The digestion of these beans can cause bloating and flatulence.

6. Sparkling water

Air bubbles from sparkling water or fizzy drinks can you make you bloat and cause excess wind.

7. Sugar substitutes

Sugar alcohols, known a polyols, such as xylitol, sorbitol and maltitol can cause bloating and flatulence and IBS symptoms in people who are sensitive to them.

8. Dairy

Some people don’t produce the enzyme lactase, which helps them break down lactose, a sugar found in milk. You need the enzyme lactase in your body in order to break down the lactose, otherwise it ferments in the gut causing pain, gas and bloating.

9. Spices

Some spicy foods can stimulate the release of stomach acid, which can cause irritation and others can ferment in the digestive system causing bloating.

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