Niggling tummy upsets aren’t unusual – in fact 40 per cent of us have at least one digestive complaint at any time, from heartburn to difficulty going to the loo. As we get older, tummy troubles become more common too, as your body’s hormones change post-menopause and your digestive system slows down. However, you don’t have to put up with digestive problems. Follow these seven steps to a more settled stomach and feel better today!
Fill up on fibre
Help your digestion along by getting more fibre into your diet from wholemeal bread, brown rice, oats and beans. Try to eat seven portions of fruit and veg a day. Pickled brassica veg, such as sauerkraut, is packed with probiotics that are great for keeping your gut healthy. If you’re struggling to go to the loo, go for a handful of dried fruits to get things moving.
Have a moment of calm
Stress can give you a knotted feeling in your stomach and play havoc with your digestion. So try to find a way of staying calm, whether that’s reading a book or having a relaxing bath. Make mealtimes especially peaceful by sitting comfortably at the table, concentrating on your food and keeping any discussions for after you’ve eaten.
Watch what you wear
Control pants and tight dresses might help you look your best at a dinner party, but clinging clothes put extra strain on your digestive system that could make your stomach feel unsettled later. If you know you’re going to be eating, wear loose-fitting clothes that skim over your belly, such as a swing dress.
Keep it closed!
Remember your mum telling you not to talk with your mouth full? Well, it was sound advice. Swallowing air when you eat can cause bloating, so always eat with your mouth closed and try to save dinnertime chat for after your meal. If you like to freshen your breath after a meal swap gum for a mint – chewing gum encourages excess air to sneak in while you chew.
Choose your drinks wisely
Aim to drink at least eight cups of water a day and steer clear of fizzy drinks –they can leave you bloated. Drinking a lot of caffeine can cause tummy upsets, so limit yourself to two cups of tea or coffee a day. See if you can swap at least one of your usual brews for warm milk and honey or peppermint tea, both of which soothe your stomach.
Spot the trigger
Keeping a food diary can be helpful for seeing if certain foods trigger your symptoms. If you find it’s dairy products that always set off your stomach pains or diarrhoea, you may be intolerant to lactose, the sugar found in milk and diary foods.
Try cutting out these foods for a while to see if the problem stops. Fatty foods and certain spicy meals are also notorious for causing tummy troubles, so swap your fried foods and curry for grilled, lean meat and veg and see if you start to feel better.
Keep it regular
Eating at regular times throughout the day and not skipping meals helps keep your digestion in rhythm. Aim to graze on four or five smaller meals a day rather than three big ones and eat your last meal at least two to three hours before bed to stop stomach pains disrupting your sleep. Schedule your meals in advance for times when you know you’ll have the chance to enjoy your food slowly.
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- Taking two Dida tablets a day, alongside a healthy diet and lifestyle, could help keep bloating, sugar cravings and an upset stomach at bay, so that digestion problems never have to get in the way of you feeling great.
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There's more health advice in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.