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Steady steps towards digestive health

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Carole Baker - Tortoise or Turtle pose
Carole Baker - Tortoise or Turtle pose

World Turtle Day is May 23 and World Digestive Health Day is May 29, so how can I connect those together?

Firstly, ‘digestive health’ is on the tip of everyone’s tongue at the moment (excuse the pun) with books, blogs and blabberings on about the benefits of ‘clean eating’, ‘paleo is perfect’ and ‘vegan mania’. You might be interested to learn that recent scientific research has discovered that our gut contains an unimaginable number of nerves called the Gut Brain and it is as large and chemically complex as the grey matter in our heads. It would be strange if the gut were solely responsible for transporting food etc and we know that our ‘gut feeling’ is responsible for how we feel from ‘pooing our pants with fear’ to ‘butterflies in our stomach’.

I’ve mentioned the vagus nerve before as it’s the most important connection between the gut and the brain. We also know that those who suffer from irritable bowel manifest more symptoms of anxiety and depression often caused by long term low grade inflammation, wrong balance of gut microbes (too many antibiotics) and possible food intolerances (most common being wheat and dairy).

There is more exciting research being done all the time and current science tells us to ensure we have a course of probiotics after antibiotics or if you suffer from a digestive complaint. Eat as I recommend below with lots of prebiotic foods that help the functioning of your wonderfully clever small and large intestines as they promote the increase of friendly bacteria and also boost your immune – eat them raw: Dandelion leaves, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas, apples, flaxseeds and seaweed.

So, basically if we look after our digestive health, then overall our complete health and wellbeing will improve.

My general eating principles are: 80% fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, 10% organic meat or fresh fish, 5% dairy (mainly a butter addiction) and 5% grains but no gluten wherever possible (doesn’t agree with my digestion at all). Oh, and of course lots of filtered water, herbal teas and the occasional tipple.

There are many yoga poses that are said to tone, strengthen and increase energy to the abdomen which, of course, houses our digestive system. Tortoise (or Turtle) pose is a deep hip opening forward bend. The first time I saw a picture of it, I did think it was photo-shopped but I now know that it takes a lot of patience to release into anywhere near the final pose pictured.

BENEFITS - Strengthens the back.

- Tones the abdominal organs.

- Encourages flexibility in the hips.

- Quiets the mind


- Menstruation or pregnancy

- Herniated disks

- Strained lower-back muscles

In literature and mythology, tortoises and turtles are often depicted as patient and even-tempered creatures – who could forget The Tortoise and the Hare?

As you work through this challenging pose, try to emulate their serenity and fortitude. You’ll notice a resounding benefit when you face difficult situations both on and off the yoga mat. For full instructions see my yoga@home App on the app store.

- The suggestions in this article are the personal opinion of the author. Please do not take any new remedies if you are currently on any medication without the consent of your GP.