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You aren't what you eat, but instead – what you digest.

This is the assertion of nutrition and digestive health expert Patrick Holford, and he expands on this very theory in his latest book Improve your Digestion.

Holford says that beneath the surface of your digestive system there is a hive of activity taking place that can control everything from your mood to your energy levels.

“The human gut is the hub of good health – that is, if it’s working properly,” says Holford.

The vastly updated, expanded and fully revised version of Holford’s popular book, first published in 1999, has just hit the shelves in South Africa. Since it was first published, the role of gut bacteria health has come a long way with numerous recent studies providing evidence and supporting the notion that gut health is where good health starts.

“So much scientific evidence now highlights the importance of the right balance of bacteria in the gut – not only to support good health but also to assist in weight loss,” says Holford.

“A healthy digestive system is more important than most of us realise. It is the key to wellbeing. Digestive problems, however, are the norm for most people and the immediate knock on effects are often low energy, poor skin, headaches, foggy thinking, food allergies, weight gain and aches and pains,” he says.

“Basically, if the gut isn’t working well, nothing is going to be working well,” he added.

In the book, Holford warns that many of us are digging our own graves with our knives and forks as an epidemic of digestive problems is at the root of much of the Western world’s illnesses. Modern food processing methods mean our diets are lacking in nutrition more than ever before.

According to Holford, the consequences of sub-optimum nutrition are evident in the increasing incidence of digestive problems and diseases.

But with current testing methods and recent advances in natural treatments, “the vast majority of digestive problems can be solved with relative ease, little expense and no need for invasive tests or treatment”, argues Holford.

And that is exactly what this book sets out to achieve.

Did you know that if you laid out your gut flat it would cover the surface area of a tennis court – 250m2? And it needs to be as, over a lifetime, an average person will digest over 100 tonnes of food, requiring 300 000 litres of digestive juices to break it down.

“We spend our physical lives digesting food, extracting nutrients, processing these and eliminating the rest – which is all done along the digestive tract. How efficient our body is at this; determines our energy levels, longevity and state of body and mind,” explains Holford.

“Whether or not you are currently suffering from any ailments linked to gut health, chances are your digestive system could do with a tune up,” says Holford.

Improve your Digestion offers an easy-to-understand explanation of the importance of gut health and how to adjust your diet and eating patterns to ensure optimal digestion and absorption. Guiding you through the various side-effects associated with an underperforming gut, the book also offers a handy action plan to help you restore the health of your gut, clean up your digestive system and detoxify your body.

Improve your Digestion, which includes digestion-friendly recipes, is your all-in-one guide to help you reap the rewards of increased energy, clarity of mind, all-round vitality and resistance to disease.

Improve your Digestion is on sale in all leading bookshops.

(Adapted from press release)