This article has been reproduced by kind permission of The Mail on Sunday YOU Magazine.
We all know that stress affects our digestion. For some, it’s butterflies in the tummy (and a quick dash to the nearest loo) but for many others, being on ‘high alert’ causes a sluggish digestion and constipation. Gudrun Jonsson, a qualified biopath who uses the principles of nutrition and homoeopathy to treat the whole person, explains that ‘if we’re in stress mode, our bodies prioritise other systems such as the heart and brain, and that can disrupt the smooth passage of food through our bodies. So an efficient gut is vital to feeling well’.
One of her patients, ‘Rose’, says she has benefited greatly from regular sessions with Gudrun, a longtime leading figure in the nutrition field. ‘I learnt that what comes out is just as important as what goes in. Going to the loo regularly every day makes us feel lighter and healthier – mentally and physically – as it eliminates toxins from the system. So the key is not only to manage stress – Gudrun advised me to lie down and breathe slowly in and out of my stomach, do yoga and meditate – but also to manage your gut.’
Gudrun also offers reflexology foot massage, focusing on the areas corresponding to the gut. ‘It’s incredibly relaxing and the next morning, I definitely know my tummy has responded,’ says Rose.
After six weekly sessions with Gudrun and following her advice at home (see below), Rose reports: ‘my skin is clearer, my head is clearer, and to be blunt I’m more regular. I feel so much better overall.’
Gudrun’s advice for everyone:
- Eat a few herb leaves– eg tarragon, dill, basil, mint – before a meal to activate saliva glands and digestive juices in the stomach.
- Consciously relax before a meal (take a few deep breaths, laugh, or hug someone).
- Chew food properly: it should be soup-like in your mouth. Enzymes in saliva help to predigest food; that’s especially important with starch-heavy foods (eg grains), which can cause bloating.
- Eat slowly! From the moment your mouth waters, it takes up to 20 minutes for your digestion to get underway. So sit down, savour the look and smell, then enjoy every mouthful. Never eat on the run.
- Each meal should contain the amount you can hold in your cupped hands – with meat no more than a quarter of that.
- Add a dribble of olive oil to meat to make it easier to digest.
- Choose above-ground vegetables rather than roots (potatoes, parsnips etc): they’re easier to digest and cause less bloating.
- If you suffer from low blood sugar (a tendency to feel light-headed, tired or head-achey if you don’t eat regularly), eat two dried prunes or figs, or half an avocado, before bed to keep blood sugar steady overnight. Also try taking Complete Fiber Cleanse, £17.95 for 168g, mid-morning and mid-afternoon, as directed on label.
- Massage the centre of the soles of your feet to relax the body’s systems.
- Start the day with hot water with a squeeze of fresh lemon.
- If you’re prone to constipation, gently massage your tummy clockwise for a couple of minutes before you get up. Sip warming drinks through the day, and/or put a hot water bottle on your tummy.
- Have a stroll after your evening meal.
- Take a daily probiotic such as OptiBac probiotics (30 capsules for £22.45, from Victoria Health to replenish the ‘friendly’ bacteria in your gut, which promote digestion and detoxification.
Snug and Sun Safe
Keeping wriggly little ones out of the sun’s rays is more than a style challenge. My mummy tester is a fan of the SPF50+ hooded poncho towel (fits ages 1-3) by Cuddledry, which deflects 100 per cent of UVA/B rays. ‘The poncho has poppers under the arms so it stays put when they rush about. It’s much easier to dry them after swimming lessons too.’ £27.99 from cuddledry.com
In Praise of an Energy Boost
A reader whose energy levels can be ‘a bit up and down’ due to an underactive thyroid has found a solution: ‘I don’t know how I lived without Femergy supplements. Since starting Femergy, I’m on fire! It took a couple of weeks to kick in but I’m so glad I stuck with it.’ £10.25 for 60 vegi-caps (a months supply). PS Every woman I know who takes it is impressed.
Book of the week: The Age Revolution
Subtitled The drug-free plan to stay fit, young and healthy, this is by Dr Charles Clark and Maureen Clark, who wrote the bestselling The New High Protein Diet (which revolutionised the lives of many people I know). It offers a three-pronged approach to ageing well: diet, exercise and stress management. As Lucia van der Post says in her Foreword: ‘it’s a manual on how to enjoy what can be one of the best times of one’s life’.