Breadcrumbs

What are 'macros' and how can they affect digestion?

Macronutrients - or simply macros - are nutrients that provide us with a lot of calories or energy. The word "macro" means large, so we need large amounts of them to meet our energy demands. The question is - do they have any effect on our digestion?

Which foods contain the three macros?

Fat, protein and carbohydrate (starchy foods) are the three macronutrients that can form a significant part of our diets. There is a vast choice of foods from which they can be derived:

  • Fat: butter, cream, milk, olive oil, meat, nuts, avocados
  • Protein: meat, fish, cheese, eggs, nuts, seeds, pulses
  • Carbohydrate: bread, pasta, couscous, rice, cereals, potatoes

Potential effect of macro intake imbalance on digestion

As with so many things in life, balance is the key. Your diet is no exception. You need the correct amount of macros - together with other important nutrients like fibre and vitamins.

Weight gain and loss

We all probably realise that taking in more calories than we burn can result in weight gain - just as the opposite is true when we take in less. Research shows that diets including a range of macronutrient proportions equals a healthy weight, as well as allowing weight loss and preventing weight regain. The main factor to bear in mind is to reduce the calorie content of your diet in the long term.1

Indigestion

Indigestion may be the result of a sensitive stomach lining that's unable to withstand too much acid. It is also believed to be associated with stretching your stomach lining.

Foods that need a lot of time to digest, such as fat and meat protein, tend to remain in your stomach for longer. This may also involve an increase in the amount of stomach acid needed for digestion, in order to make the digestive process effective. Therefore, if there's a lot of stomach acid around for a while - due either to the type of food or volume of food- it can potentially increase your chances of suffering from indigestion.

If you've had a big macro-filled meal, like fish and chips, deep pan pizza, sausages and mash or spicy meals, such as meat curries, chillies and kebabs, then you may be putting yourself at higher risk of indigestion.

Checking and adjusting macros in your diet

"All things in moderation" is a popular phrase and quite true. Your body needs all three macros for various reasons and not necessarily just for the calories they supply. For example, vitamins A, D and E can only be absorbed when fats are present.2

It has been suggested that the following amounts of macros should form a daily intake of calories, assuming a 2000 calorie per day target:3

  • Carbohydrates and sugar: 45-65% of your total calorie intake (900-1300 calories per day)
  • Protein: 10-35% of your total calorie intake (200-700 calories per day)
  • Fat: 20-35% of your total calorie intake (400-700 calories per day)

The amount of calories needed may change from person to person - highly active individuals, like athletes, will burn more than others, and may therefore need to take in more. If you're concerned that you might not be having the right amount of macros / calories, and would like to look at your complete dietary needs, you could consider speaking to a dietician at your GP's surgery.

Managing indigestion

Indigestion is experienced interchangeably by many people.  The foods we eat may affect our digestive systems, as some foods require a greater amount of digestion than others. So, if you are suffering there are other ways to help yourself in addition to rebalancing your diet.

Non-dietary preventative measures

Firstly, if you suffer from indigestion, you could try to adjust your eating habits by:

  • Eating smaller meals more often, rather than three big meals a day
  • Eating slowly to give your stomach a chance to digest food at a slower rate
  • Avoiding going to bed with a full stomach, since laying down can cause acid reflux more easily

Secondly, consider these measures:

  • Wear loose fitting clothes around your waist, so your stomach isn't being squeezed and causing a greater chance of stomach acid refluxing
  • Stop smoking - nicotine can weaken the lower oesophageal sphincter, making it less efficient at keeping stomach acid in your stomach and out of your oesophagus
  • Try to lose some weight if necessary - getting dietary advice may help.

Treatment with Gaviscon Double Action

Gaviscon Double Action is one of several treatments available to help relieve the symptoms of indigestion. Don’t just rely on treatment alone though; the other advice provided in this article should be considered too as treatments for symptoms are not a cure for the underlying cause.

Gaviscon Double Action gets to work quickly to neutralise stomach acid and also forms a protective barrier - sometimes referred to as "a raft" - on top of your stomach contents. This helps to stop stomach acid coming back up into your oesophagus.

Hopefully now you know a little bit more about what macros are and what they can provide. If you believe you're getting too much of one type in your diet, or that you're perhaps getting too much of all of them, ask yourself: is it having an influence on your indigestion? If you think the answer is yes, try to take some steps to help yourself. If you have any concerns about your indigestion, visit your GP.

 

References:

1. http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/Chapter2.pdf

2. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/Fat.aspx

3. http://www.livestrong.com/article/509144-what-is-the-perfect-balance-of-carbohydrates-protein-sugar-and-fat-calories/

All information presented is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. Gaviscon for Heartburn & Indigestion. Always read the label. If symptoms are severe or prolonged you should consult a doctor or pharmacist.