Give your digestive system a pre-summer cleanse

Give your digestive system a pre-summer cleanse

Many of us over-indulge at Christmas, and are left with that horrible bloated feeling, but there are plenty of ways we can be kinder to our bodies

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Although our bodies can usually cope quite well when we eat and drink too much in the short-term, if you regularly suffer from constipation, heartburn and flatulence, it’s time to make some changes.

Eat healthily

The good news is you don’t need to make any radical changes to restore your digestive system back to health. Start by increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables you consume, and reduce your fat intake. It’s a good idea to cut back on alcohol too. All these steps will help take the pressure off your body and gut, which will in turn make you feel much healthier.

Cut down on bad fats

It’s never a good idea to try to remove fat from your diet altogether, as we need it for energy. There are also plenty of essential fatty acids that our bodies require to function healthily.

When you consume too much fat, however, this can slow your gut down. It takes your body longer to digest fatty foods than other foods, but if you regularly eat too much fat, your small intestine adapts to this, which means when you then try to cut it out, you start craving it.This is when you’ll need to strengthen your resolve. The longer you can go without consuming too much fat, the weaker your cravings will become.

Reducing the amount of fatty food you eat also helps prevent heartburn, which can cause an uncomfortable burning sensation in your chest, occasionally accompanied by a sour taste in your mouth.

Always check the fat content of the food items you buy, and go for lower fat options where available. For example, if you are buying mince, choose a pack of lean mince. You should also steer clear of processed foods wherever possible, including takeaways, ready meals and chocolates. These all contain trans fats, which are the worst type of fat. If you cook from scratch and monitor how much oil you use when frying or roasting, this can help reduce your overall fat intake.

Get juicing

If you’re not a big fruit or vegetable eater, a good way to ensure you get your five a day is to use a juicer to make smoothies.This will ensure you get all the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants you need, and will also fill you up, reducing the amount you eat at meal-times.

Don’t get carried away and drink too many though, as smoothies do have high levels of sugar, which won’t be suitable if you are diabetic. If you want to reduce the amount of sugar, use more vegetables than fruit, and oat fibre or yoghurt for extra nutrients.  

Veg out

If the idea of a vegetable smoothie doesn’t float your boat, try increasing your vegetable intake by eating more soups instead. Vegetable soups contain loads of vitamins and are also high in fibre and low in fat. Avoid processed vegetable soups where possible as these often contain high levels of salt or sugar. Make your own and add chickpeas and lentils for extra fibre and protein.

Cut back on the booze

Much as unwinding after a long day at work with a glass of wine can seem the perfect way to relax, if you drink alcohol every day, you could be at risk of contracting fatty liver disease.

This happens when your liver cells get so full of alcohol, they can no longer process it effectively. Symptoms include feeling discomfort around your stomach area, sickness and appetite loss.

You can find out whether your liver is affected by excess alcohol through a blood test.

Try reducing the amount you drink, or cut it out altogether for a period of time, and you’ll soon see excess fat on your body start disappearing. Giving up alcohol or reducing your intake should also help you sleep better at night – and mean you won’t wake up with a headache in the morning either.

Increase your water intake

Many of us binge eat because we confuse thirst with hunger. You should drink around 1.5 to 2 litres of fluid a day, ideally water, if you want your bowels to work effectively.

If water just seems too dull, then drink herbal teas and low calorie fruit squashes too. Don’t drink excessive amounts of fluid though, as this can cause health issues too.

Avoid ‘quick fix’ detox plans

Tempting as it may be to grab a short-term detox ‘solution’ from your chemist, there isn’t any magic to these, and they often don’t live up to claims that they will improve your complexion or provide your body with a deep cleanse.

Many of these detox plans are simply a juice or syrup which you consumer for three or four days, but usually you lose weight because you’ve cut down on the amount of calories you are eating rather than any magic ingredient.

You’re much better off making longer term changes to your diet and lifestyle rather than going for a short-term solution which you only pursue for a few days.  

 Radio Times has teamed up with AXA PPP healthcare to bring you affordable, private health insurance. Get £50 FREE M&S vouchers free when you take out a plan

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