This post is a follow-up to my Why You Should Care About Digestion post. I encourage you to read through that post first to determine if and why you may be suffering from poor digestion.
Remember the saying, you are what you eat? Well, it’s true. The food that we put in our body each day can and will determine our health in the short-term and long-term. And the food that we eat must first pass through the digestive tract in order to be usable by the body. This is yet another reason why we need support our digestive system. And what better way to do that than through natural means. Read on.
TRY THESE SIMPLE STEPS TO SUPPORT DIGESTION NATURALLY
1. Cut out the junk and eat real food.
By putting whole foods into your body instead of processed junk, you are already making progress toward obtaining a healthier gut. Processed foods contain additives, artificial flavors, colors and chemicals, just to name a few. All of these things will irritate your gut, thus increasing inflammation and altering digestion. The first thing you can do to tackle digestive distress is to clean up your diet and opt for whole, real foods.
2. Slow down at meal times.
Slowing down and being present while you eat can work wonders on your digestion. Really take the time to taste your food with each bite. Digestion begins in the mouth by chewing. Our food needs to be broken down before it hits the stomach in order to avoid an upset stomach and inflamed digestive tract. Chewing also allows for enzymes, like salivary amylase, to start breaking down the food in our mouths. So, make it a point to really chew your food. Enjoy each bite. Your digestive tract will thank you.
3. Take the gluten free challenge.
If you are eating whole, real food and still have concerning digestive discomfort, then your issue may be attributed to a food allergy or sensitivity. Gluten [the protein in wheat, rye, barley] has recently become one of the most common food sensitivities, mainly due to the fact that wheat has become a highly processed and modified crop that no longer resembles the wheat our ancestors used to eat. Cut out all gluten for at least 3 weeks to see if symptoms improve. After 3 weeks, add some gluten back in and notice how you feel. If your digestive tract acts up [or you experience other abnormal symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, etc.], gluten may be the culprit that you need to avoid. Need help? Let’s work together. Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Other common allergenic foods to test in your diet include:
|DAIRY [pasteurized]||SOY||TREE NUTS + PEANUTS|
4. Don’t multitask while eating. Just eat.
Digestion naturally occurs in a parasympathetic state, or relaxed mode. When you are doing and thinking other things, your body will focus energy on the other things rather than the most important task at hand, digestion. When you eat in a relaxed and aware state your body moves into its natural relaxed mode and can take its time to focus on digesting your food. Sometimes, the best way to bring the focus back to eating is to simply take a few deep breaths. This simple act can refocus the mind, decrease stress and allow you to be in an optimal relaxed state in order to support digestion. Avoid these activities while eating:
|DRIVING||WATCHING TV or ON COMPUTER
|WORKING||BEING STRESSED||TALKING ON THE PHONE|
5. Probiotics are friendly bacteria. Eat them.
Your ability to balance blood sugar and maintain a healthy gut has a lot to do with bacteria, specifically probiotics or beneficial bacteria. Most of us are overloaded with pathogenic bacteria, the unhealthy bacteria that spread inflammation throughout the body and feed off of sugar to flourish. When we are overrun with harmful bacteria [from a poor diet] our bodies cannot function optimally which can lead to illness + disease. The benefits of probiotics are numerous. They include: aiding in proper digestion and blood sugar balance, protecting us from immune challenges and communicating with other organs, especially the brain. Probiotics come in supplemental form and from food itself. Food sources include sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kombucha and fermented vegetables. Eat up.
6. Apple cider vinegar gets your digestive juices flowing.
For a variety of reasons, some people don’t produce sufficient digestive enzymes which can be problematic. Digestive enzymes are produced and activated upon eating in order to break down the food we eat so it can be properly absorbed. The bitter quality of vinegar works to get your digestive juices flowing which will help aid in digestion. Drinking a small amount before meals may help your body naturally increase digestive enzymes. Simply add a teaspoon of vinegar to a cup of water and drink up before a meal. To mask the bitter flavor of the vinegar, squeezing in some fresh lemon will help. If that doesn’t sound appetizing, taking supplemental digestive enzymes can be quite helpful as well.
7. Consume nutrient-rich bone broth.
Bone broth is incredibly nutritious and packed with easily digestible vitamins and minerals. It provides nutrients and building blocks to assist in decreasing inflammation and healing the digestive tract. Bone broth can be especially important for people who are unable to tolerate many nutrient rich foods without having digestive distress [i.e. people with food sensitivities or bowel disorders]. Include bone broth in meals by cooking stir-frys with broth, making soups or stews, or by pouring yourself a mug to sip on. You can even add a little sea salt + herbs for a more vibrant flavor. Bone broth is very easy to make at home and requires minimal effort, it just takes time.
Have more questions?
I counsel clients locally in Western Washington and from afar over the phone and via the internet. Email me to get started or for more information: email@example.com. Also, check out my Nutrition Services page here.