We’ve all been there, right? Pants get a little tight, tummy starts to turn, confidence and comfort drop, and brain fog begins to set in. Here comes the bloat and the gas, and it’s no fun. This feeling of discomfort can totally ruin your day. Digestive enzymes can really help us, especially after a big meal or restaurant food, but there are many simple changes we can make today to set ourselves up for regular digestive success.
It’s important to also note that improper digestion can mean big problems for our overall health. When the body can’t properly digest the food we are giving it, we are losing out on all of these essential nutrients and causing inflammation. What starts as a stomachache can, over time, develop into a serious health issue.
These are our top ten tips to ensure optimal digestion today:
Our digestive systems begin in our mouths. Chewing well eases the work required from the digestive system, and primes the body for digestion by signaling that food is on its way down. Try chewing each bite of food 20 times. It’s surprising how often we swallow food and barely chew it! This can also help prevent overeating, which can wreak havoc on the digestive system.
2. Eat real, whole foods
Focus on whole, fresh foods. Avoid processed, packaged, and fried foods. These are all difficult to digest, with no true benefits. The body recognizes real food as nourishment, instead of trying to analyze how it should use things like “aspartame”, a chemical-filled artificial sweetener. We’ve been eating berries and greens for years, so the body knows how to properly process them.
3. Ditch the “trigger” foods
These are foods that cause bloating, inflammation, indigestion, fatigue, and over long periods of time, much larger issues. The 21-day Clean Program is the easiest way to eliminate all of these trigger foods – gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, corn, soy, nightshades, eggs, and peanuts – while still getting in all of the necessary nutrients. Using an elimination diet to remove the most common triggers allows the digestive system to relax and rejuvenate. Not to mention, completing a Clean Program will help you individually identify which foods work for your unique body, which is worth its weight in gold.
4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Water is essential for proper digestion. It helps the body digest soluble fiber, which helps make well-formed, soft stools that are easy to pass. Water eases digestion by helping convert the foods we eat into raw materials, which fuel the body and ease the transport of nutrients in and waste out of organ tissue. Try drinking half your body weight (or more!) in ounces of water per day. You can also sip on some yummy herbal teas like peppermint, ginger, fennel, and fenugreek, which are all known for their digestive supporting properties.
5. Supplement with fermented foods + probiotics
Fermented foods are high in good bacteria, which help the body fight invaders, improves nutrient absorption and improves daily detoxification. Some fermented foods include sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha. Probiotics support in reducing the toxins we inevitably encounter day to day, modulating the immune system, and improving digestion and nutrient absorption.
6. Stress management
You’d be surprised at how much stress can affect your digestive system. When you’re stressed, blood flow is redirected to the brain and limbs. If your body is stressed while you are eating it can cause your metabolism to slow down. Stress can also shut down digestion, leading to constipation, which can lead to problems including gas, bloating, stomach pain, and weight gain. Stress can also have the opposite effect on your digestive tract. It may cause food to move too quickly through your system, which leads to nutritional deficiencies. Try experimenting with different stress-relieving techniques like meditation, breathing, essential oils, yoga, and even walking.
7. Supplement with L-Glutamine and Digestive Enzymes
L-Glutamine, an amino acid, supports the repair and regeneration of the intestinal lining in your body. Glutamine supplements soothe inflammation and act as a repellent to irritants. Digestive enzymes ensure that food is properly digested and nutrients are properly assimilated in the body. These really come in handy when traveling and eating out.
Exercise makes bowel movements easier to pass by decreasing the time it takes food to move through the large intestine. It also accelerates your heart rate and breathing, which helps stimulate the natural contraction of intestinal muscles. If you can’t make it to the gym, don’t fret! A simple walk first thing in the morning can help get things going. Try incorporating small movement goals in your day, like taking the stairs, parking around the block, and walking to the far bathroom in your office building. These small acts add up.
9. Ditch the nuts + seeds
Yes, we said it. Trust us, we are all about those healthy fats. However, if you feel like your digestive system isn’t working top notch, you may want to limit the amount of nuts you are consuming each day. While healthy for most people, nuts can be difficult to digest and may leave you feeling constipated, gassy, and bloated if you have too many. Try meeting your healthy fat quota with things like coconut milk yogurt and avocados instead.
10. Eat more fiber
Fiber helps keep everything moving smoothly in our intestines. It slows down digestion and absorption so glucose enters the bloodstream more slowly. This keeps blood sugar at an even level, which is also good for weight management.
Written by Hannah Aylward
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