How does digestion work? Plus 5 top tips for a healthy gut

How does digestion work? Plus 5 top tips for a healthy gut

Digestion might not be the most glamorous topic, but it's the foundation for our overall health and well-being. Understanding how our bodies break down food into usable energy is the first step to keeping our gut happy and functioning optimally. So, first let's take a whistle-stop tour of how your digestive system works!

The Digestive Journey:

The Digestive System, Wassen


It all starts here, from the moment you take a bite! Chewing breaks down food mechanically, whilst enzymes in your saliva kickstart the breakdown of carbohydrates.


This muscular tube acts as a one-way street, squeezing food down to the stomach.


Your stomach churns and mixes food with gastric juices. The acidic pH of the stomach activates enzymes called peptidases, which break down proteins present in the food. It also kills off any bacteria that may have been lurking on your food.

Small Intestine:

The small intestine is the primary player in nutrient absorption. Here, your food mixes with pancreatic enzymes and bile from the liver and gallbladder, breaking it down into its simplest forms for absorption into the bloodstream. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, proteins are broken down into amino acids (the building blocks of muscle and tissue), and bile works to break down fats. The walls of the small intestine are lined with tiny finger-like projections called villi, which maximize the surface area for nutrient absorption. Nutrients pass through these villi and enter your bloodstream.

Fun fact: the small intestine measures up to 7 meters in length!

Helpful Gut Bacteria:

The bacteria found in our gut also begin fermenting and feeding off the food that we eat. It also helps us break down indigestible parts of food.

Large Intestine (Colon):

The colon’s main job is to absorb water from the remaining food, forming stool. Waste products and indigestible materials move through until they reach the rectum, triggering bowel movement.

5 Top Tips for a Happy Gut

Keeping Your Gut Happy: 5 Top Tips

Fibre Up:

Fibre is found in plant-based foods and when eaten, it helps to keep things moving and nourishes the bacteria within your gut. Recent research found that eating 30 plants per week is beneficial for your gut health (this may seem like a lot, but it includes coffee, spices, nuts and seeds as well as fruit and vegetables).


Water is essential for digestion and helps prevent constipation. The NHS recommends 6-8 glasses of water a day. Keeping a water bottle always on hand will help you sip throughout the day!

Mindful Eating:

Slow down and savor your food, making sure to chew it properly. This allows for better digestion and helps prevent overeating.

Befriend Bacteria:

Fermented foods like yoghurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha are loaded with gut-friendly probiotics (live bacteria and yeasts) that promote a healthy gut microbiome.

Manage Stress:

Chronic stress can really impact your digestion! Practice relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation.

Gut friendly foods

Gut-Friendly Recipe Ideas:

Breakfast: Power up your morning with a high-fiber smoothie bowl made with spinach, banana, berries, yogurt and chia seeds. 

Lunch: A salad with grilled chicken, avocado, quinoa, and a tahini lemon dressing provides protein, fibre, and healthy fats. Add some kimchi or sauerkraut on top for a probiotic boost!

Dinner: Salmon with roasted vegetables is a heart-healthy and gut-friendly option, packed with the essential fatty acid Omega 3. Don't forget to add a side of brown rice!

Snacks: Snack on fruits with a handful of nuts for a satisfying and gut-nourishing treat.

Whilst we always recommend a healthy balanced diet first, a gut-friendly drink like Wassen Digest + Balance can provide extra digestive support. Simply add a sachet to your water for a refreshing drink containing a blend of minerals, digestive enzymes, and live bacterial strains.

By understanding your digestive system and incorporating these tips, you can keep your gut happy and functioning at its best. Remember, a happy gut is the key to a happy you!

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