Digestive health is often overlooked but it plays a big part in our overall health and therefore in how much energy we have for daily activities. It’s one of our Six Signals®, and the whole area of gut health is one that I find fascinating. We are learning more every day about the microbiota, and the 100 trillion bacteria that reside in our guts and the role they play in our immune health, body composition and mental health among other things.

I’ll be blogging more about the gut and microbiota in future posts, but for now, let’s start with the basics of digestion. Digestion starts before we’ve even swallowed food; the mere smell of food makes us salivate in preparation – ever walked past a bakery and smelt the croissants inside? There are enzymes in our saliva that help us break down foods – especially carbohydrates – so that they can be further broken down once they reach the small intestine. How we digest our food is dictated by several factors, most of which we can control. The main goal with digestion is to ensure that we have absorbed all the nutrients from our food, but this isn’t always a given.

Hormones are involved like leptin which indicates to the brain that we’re full, and ghrelin which is the signal for hunger. Serotonin is also involved which is a feel-good neurotransmitter, and scientists believe that up to 90% of the serotonin in the body is found in the gut (the other 10% being in the brain), which might explain why some of us comfort eat. It’s important to minimise hormonal disruption for good digestive health – disruptors include sugar, alcohol, poor sleep, chronic or prolonged stress, nicotine, being overweight and poor gut health.

But there is much you can do to ensure you’re optimising your energy levels by digesting your food well. Here are my 7 tips for good digestive health:

  1. Eat mindfully – think about the nutrient density of your food and try to avoid reaching for the easiest thing available. Be aware of what you’re eating and the impact it may have on your body
  2. Maintain good posture when eating – sitting upright and at a table will help the complex digestive systems do their job
  3. Enjoy the preparation of your food by cooking from fresh – let the smells, taste and texture prepare the body for what is to come!
  4. Consider the provenance of your food – being mindful of where your food came from and caring about how the animals or plants were treated can help us appreciate it more
  5. Relax and slow down – chew slowly, and let the enzymes do the work of getting all the nutrients out of the food
  6. Make it social – make a meal about enjoying the food, the conversation and the act of sharing rather than just taking in fuel. Remember the concept of breaking bread?
  7. Take some deep breaths – the digestive function is governed by the parasympathetic nervous system so for it to work well, we need to be relaxed

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Leanne Spencer is an entrepreneur, coach, TEDx Speaker, author of Remove the Guesswork, and founder of Bodyshot Performance Limited. Bodyshot is a health and fitness consultancy that helps busy professionals get more energy by removing the guesswork around their health, fitness and nutrition. Visit www.bodyshotperformance.com or email [email protected] to register your interest in our services and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


  • Leanne is an award-winning entrepreneur and the founder of Bodyshot Performance Limited. She delivered a TEDx talk on 'Why fitness is more important than weight', is the author of bestselling books 'Remove the Guesswork' and 'Rise and Shine', and hosts a podcast called ’Remove the Guesswork‘. Leanne is the founder of Bodyshot Performance, an award-winning health and wellbeing company. Bodyshot Performance work with businesses of up to 500 people who want to create a culture of energy, vitality and performance through the business and position wellbeing as a competitive advantage. Bodyshot intersect the latest science and technology to provide unique solutions to the challenge of wellbeing in the workplace that have a direct impact on the bottom line. Our clients have won awards for wellbeing and recognise it directly improves employee engagement and retention and attracts talent into the business.  We also work with chronically stressed or burned out professionals to get you back in control of your health and able to do the things you want to do in life. My expertise is around health, fitness and wellbeing, specifically focusing on sleep, mental health, energy, body composition, digestion and fitness. I host a popular podcast on iTunes called ’Remove the Guesswork ‘, and in November 2016 I delivered a TEDx talk on 'Why fitness is more important than weight'. I’m the author of the bestselling books 'Remove the Guesswork' and 'Rise and Shine' and I regularly speak to corporates on health and wellbeing. My personal values are to live truthfully, considerately and to "suck all the marrow out of life" as Thoreau said. I support the charity Diversity Role Models which works to combat homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying. I recently completed the world’s toughest ski race to raise £10,125 for Alzheimer's Research as my father-in-law was profoundly ill with Alzheimers, and I am on a constant mission to find ways to live in a way that is sustainable and environmentally friendly. I love sport, fitness, reading, gardening, business, podcasting, and being with my cat and our scampish little rescue dog, Kami from Romania.