Do you suffer from indigestion, stomach ache, gas, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, acid reflux, or other digestive disorders? Do you avoid restaurants or eating with friends? Are you looking for natural, simple solutions to improve digestion? Here are eight great tips!
Digestion is a vital part of our health that often goes unnoticed. The thirty feet of digestive tract inside us has the power to deliver optimal health or it can serve as a breeding ground for poor health and disease.
It’s important to understand the process of digestion. Good digestion begins in the mouth and continues in the stomach. The stomach temporarily holds food in order to break it down through the use of stomach acids and send it on through the system. An improper balance of acid can cause a host of problems.
Poor diet, bad lifestyles, and aging can all cause an acidic blood condition. This means that your body won’t secrete stomach acid because of the amount of acid in the blood. Unfortunately your stomach cannot digest properly with a shortage of stomach acid; therefore the food stagnates and will ferment, causing illness. Hydrochloric acid (HCl) is a component of gastric acid, a digestive fluid in the stomach. A shortage of HCl can cause heartburn, gas and bloating.
The mark of a healthy person is that they realize the important of eating to healthfully feed their bodies and not just to seek good taste. The quality of your food will affect your digestive tract. Unfortunately our culture and eating habits often make healthy digestion a challenge, but there are a few tips that can enhance your digestion and get you feeling better than you even thought possible in no time.
1. Choose fresh, organic, high quality foods. Too often, people search for deals and discounts on their food. It’s true that food is a constant expense and can add up quite quickly, but there is nothing worth investing in more. Try to have a mix of raw and cooked foods to aid digestion. Select lean meats and avoid fatty foods in general.
According to Maria Adams, MS, MPH, RD, a registered dietitian in Marblehead, Mass., a diet that is high in fiber and rich in whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruits can improve your digestive health. “A high-fiber diet helps to keep food moving through your digestive tract, making you less likely to get constipated,” Adams says, adding that a high-fiber diet can also help you prevent or treat various digestive conditions, such as diverticulosis, hemorrhoids, and irritable bowel syndrome. In addition, it can help you achieve or maintain a healthy weight.
It is important to get both insoluble and soluble fiber. Each helps your digestive system in different ways. “Insoluble fiber, also known as roughage, can’t be digested by the body and therefore helps add bulk to the stools,” says Adams.
“Soluble fiber draws in water and can help prevent stools thatare too watery.” Good sources of insoluble fiber include wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains; get soluble fiber from oat bran, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
2. Chew Thoroughly. This might sound obvious, but chewing is the fundamental part of digestion and begins as soon as your saliva and enzymes begin breaking down starches and sugars. When people poorly chew their foods, they make digestion a lot more difficult on their stomachs.
3. Consider Using Digestive Enzymes. After your stomach has broken down the food, it moves to the small intestine where 90% of the nutrients are absorbed. Digestive enzymes are produced in the pancreas and allow the body to digest carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. It is the gallbladder and the liver that produce the bile necessary for the digestive process to occur. Bile is necessary for healthy peristaltic flow and healthy elimination. If you take digestive enzymes with each meal, they can aid your body in the digestion process and allow for the extraction of more nutrients.
4. Incorporate Prebiotics and Probiotics. In both the small and large intestines, there is a complex ecosystem of bacteria and yeast (microflora) which digest and assimilate foods in order to keep up immunity. An imbalanced inner ecosystem is more common than you might think. This imbalance can lead to what is referred to as “leaky gut”, an overabundance of pathogenic bacteria and yeast that leads to illness. Probiotic-rich, fermented foods and drinks can help the microflora to work at their optimum potential, balancing the ecosystem. One excellent food to incorporate into our diets is organic, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. It is an excellent prebiotic and can feed healthy microflora, and aid digestion.
5. Hydrate Properly. Beginning the day with coffee or soda is a rather bad habit as they produce acid first thing in the morning. Transitioning to drinking water holds numerous benefits. Drinking filtered water provides energy and hydration while drinking soda and coffee can actually dehydrate your body.
6. Exercise Regularly. Maintaining consistent work outs can keep your digestion in optimal shape. A healthy weight is also vital to your digestive health. Working out can also serve to keep your appetite in check and eliminate over-eating.
7. Try Ginger. Ginger is known as the “universal remedy” and has been used for over 2,000 years to treat digestive issues. Ginger can relieve symptoms of gas and cramping by relaxing the smooth muscle of the intestines. According to the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, ginger stimulates digestion by speeding up the movement of food from the stomach into the small intestine. It also helps eliminate discomfort after eating. Ginger can act as a stimulant for bile, saliva, and gastric enzymes. Research has shown that these beneficial effects are a result of phenolic compounds, primarily gingerol and shogaol, and various other volatile oils that are present in ginger.
8. Eat your largest meal at lunchtime. Our bodies are most able to digest food at midday, when we are active. As studies have found, our digestive system secretes the highest concentration of “digestive juices” around noon, making this the best time to eat our largest meal. In the evening, our bodies are slowing down and preparing for sleep. If we eat our biggest meal at dinner, when our digestive fire is weaker, we will feel heavy and bloated and will be more likely to have difficulty falling asleep.
These are just a few small changes that will make a substantial difference in your digestive health. We have barely scratched the surface, so take a deeper look into ways to create a more comfortable lifestyle and healthier body!
McCoy, Krisha. “10 Tips for Better Digestive Health.” EverydayHealth.com.
Michele, Kelli. “How to Improve Your Digestion: 7 Easy Ways To Feel Better Today.” Mind Body Green.
Patel, Sheila. “6 Ayurvedic Practices to Improve Your Digestion.” Chopra.com.
“Powerful Tips to Improve Your Digestive System’s Health: From a Conversation with Nancy Spahr, CBE & Colon Therapist.” All Body Ecology Articles Powerful Tips to Improve Your Digestive Systems Health From a Conversation with Nancy Spahr CBE Colon Therapist Comments. BodyEcology.com
This article was written by Jessica Johnson. Jessica is a Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance Health and Wellness Educator. Jessica has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Management with an Economics and International Studies Minor from the University of Central Misouri (UCM). She is currently working as Assistant Manager and Sales Representative in Pacific Grove, California. She was Vice President of Delta Epsilon Iota Honor Society from 2011-2012 and is a sales representative for Young Living Essential Oils Company.
Jessica is passionate about holistic health and healing. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at http://www.montereybayholistic.com. Photos images:http://www.Pixabay.com
Disclaimer: The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.