Mind & Body

How to improve your digestive health

If bad diet decisions have left you struggling with long-term gut issues, it’s not too late to press reset on your digestive system, says nutritionist EVE KALINIK. Here’s how…


Invest in a probiotic

Good gut health is now known to have enormous influence on the health of the entire body, particularly in times of stress. Adding a good-quality probiotic to your diet can nurture a good digestive balance; however, not all probiotics are made equal. It’s also important to switch up your strains every few months to avoid the results from plateauing. “While I do take a daily probiotic shot or supplement, I’m also a firm believer in fermented foods or ‘beneficial bacteria’ such as miso, kimchi and kefir,” says Eve Kalinik. “Feeding that probiotic with a variety of sources is key.”

Rediscover dairy

While there has been an increase in milk-protein allergies and lactose intolerances, not all forms of dairy are bad for the gut – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. “It’s about choosing the right types of dairy, the ones that are packed with protein and good gut bacteria,” says Kalinik. “Plain yogurt, particularly Greek yogurt, is high in protein and low in carbs and sugars. Unpasteurized, full-fat cheese and harder types of cheeses such as cheddars have a natural fermentation of bacteria, which flourishes in the gut.”

Try a super spice

The benefits of turmeric are vast. This brightly-colored relative of ginger is now seen as a magic anti-inflammatory bullet for the body and is packed full of more than two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds, including the powerful antioxidant curcumin, which has been found by The University of Maryland to lower the levels of two enzymes in the body that cause inflammation. “For better absorption, pair turmeric with pepper, as it helps the curcumin to be absorbed by the body,” says Kalinik.

Rest to digest

Most of us are constantly in a state of high stress, so our bodies are not concentrating on digestion and are too stressed to process food. If food isn’t digested properly, it will ferment, causing bloating. To combat this, sit down to eat, be mindful of what you’re putting in your mouth and, if you can bear it, chew each mouthful 30 times. Your mouth is the beginning of the digestive process, so by chewing you start a chain reaction of digestive enzymes throughout the intestine, which helps to break down the carbohydrates, proteins and fats to allow ease of passage throughout your body. And try to go to bed early – your gut bacteria, like the body, live on a circadian rhythm, so early nights equal a healthier gut.


Where to give your digestive system a break

Reboot your gut and get your health back on track at these revitalizing spas and clinics…

Buchinger Wilhelmi, Germany

THE LOWDOWN: The ideas around the benefits of intermittent fasting (the 5:2 diet for instance) have gained huge traction over the last couple of years in the West. At the Buchinger Wilhelmi clinic, it is no passing diet trend, but effectively treats patients suffering from a range of chronic diseases and autoimmune disorders, as well as migraines, allergies, depression and diabetes.

NEED TO KNOW: This ‘cure’ follows a simple but strict daily itinerary that includes morning apple-peel tea, group hikes, weigh-ins, midday juices, enemas, massage, yoga, broth for supper and early to bed. The first three days of any fast or detox can be tough – side effects can vary from shivers, lack of concentration and headaches to profound tiredness and even nightmares – but, by day three, the headaches go and energy is restored.

ADD ON: The Myoreflex therapy, which blends neurobiochemistry (a brand of science studying the nervous system) with osteopathy and acupuncture to alleviate pain, stiffness in joints, insomnia and anxiety.

Palace Merano Espace Henri Chenot, Italy

THE LOWDOWN: From measuring bone density and fat composition to assessing hormone and energy levels, the Chenot – a spa founded and run by the husband/wife team of Henri and Dominique – integrates the latest medical technology with the principles of ancient Chinese medicine.

NEED TO KNOW: On arrival you are given a folder, which over the course of the week will log every test result, doctor’s and nutritionist’s report, supplement recommendation and weight fluctuation. After day one it’s filled with appointments and treatments, including daily hydrotherapy sessions (detox bath, full body wrap and stimulating shower) and detoxing massages. Food is far more sophisticated here than most spa fare (lunch and supper are often four-course affairs) so there is never a feeling of starvation, the only exception being on the fasting day when clear vegetable soups and herbal teas are all – along with a dose of Epsom salts – you can expect. Post-fast, expect exhaustion but a lightness of body (patients claim up to 3kg weight loss over a week), skin to be noticeably smoother and softer, and energy to be renewed.

ADD ON: Extras can include anything from vitamin injections and personal training to colon therapy treatments and food intolerance tests, as well as the multitude of aesthetic treatments on offer.

VivaMayr Altaussee, Austria

THE LOWDOWN: VivaMayr is a modern slant on a cure invented in the early 20th century by Dr Franz Xaver Mayr, who believed that general health is reliant on the gut.

NEED TO KNOW: Diet (there are nine kinds offered), rest, abdominal massages and Epsom salts to cleanse the intestine are the cornerstones of the cure. Local salt is used as a purgative and taken daily and in the spa itself, where the pool is salt water, the sauna has a salt crystal wall, and Watsu treatments (bodywork in water) take place in a highly concentrated salt solution, which has beneficial effects on the skin and respiratory tract. The regular monitoring combined with the feeling that you are in safe hands is exactly what you need to carry you through in the first three days of mood swings and, often, insomnia, as the body flushes out the toxins. The Dirndl-attired waitresses in the dining room offer TLC but are also qualified nutritionists who monitor each tailored menu and decide whether you can be allowed an extra dish by the chef.

ADD ON: For those passing through London, book in to VivaMayr’s first day clinic outside Austria at 15 Harley Street, for medical check-ups and assessments, as well as follow-up care.


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