Thanks you for tuning in to this last post on digestion! As we saw in the previous two posts, there are so many things that can go wrong in digestion and we can experience so many reactions from poor digestive function. Some reactions aren’t even blatantly tied to poor digestion (i.e. acne, brittle nails, anxiety). But one thing is for sure, without a healthy digestive system, it is very difficult (I would even say impossible!) to have good health.
I wanted to provide some tips that can help most people with some of the more common digestive problems. Everyone is different in terms of issues and severity, but for those struggling some of these tips may help.
- Close your eyes before you eat and take a few deep breaths
I am completely guilty of being in a rush when I eat. Breakfast and lunch are usually eaten at work, at my desk, in between emails (or even while reading emails). I prefer to go for a walk after, or before, I eat, so then I rush back and scarf down my lunch in-between meetings. This is not good. Ideally, you want to take time to eat and relax, talk with friends, sit outside, etc. But, if you are like me and this is just not going to happen (although I really am trying!), before you take your first bite, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. If you can do a breathing exercise without making a scene (try this alternate nostril exercise!) that can be really helpful. You want to slow your body down and allow it to understand that you are getting ready to consume food.
- Try some lemon water or apple cider vinegar before meals
As a society that is perpetually stressed and not always eating the most nourishing meals, most of us have too low stomach acid (which is probably the opposite of what most doctors have told you!). There are a few ways to stimulate stomach acid production so you can digest your meals properly. The first is to taste something bitter before meals, such as lemon water or ¼ of a green apple. This bitter, tart taste will start to stimulate HCL production. If this does not seem to be working very effectively, you may need to try apple cider vinegar in some water before each meal. These are quick, easy fixes that may really help, however, if you are still experiencing distress, supplementation of hydrochloric acid may be required. This is not uncommon, I have found that my own stomach acid is too low (and I have never even had acid reflux) and supplementation has been extremely effective in aiding this.
- Taking time to chew
We’ve talked about this now a few times (30 seconds or about 30 chews per bite!) so I won’t belabor the point, but this really is incredibly important and something that you can start today- or right now if you are eating a meal while reading this post! In between bites, put your fork down on your plate and just focus on chewing the food in your mouth- not getting ready to put a new bite in.
- Remove common allergens
If you are constantly eating foods that your body is not happy with, you are going to get a negative response from your digestive system. Sometimes we have been eating foods for so long that our body is used to them and isn’t launching a full scale immune attack on these foods anymore- but that doesn’t mean you might not be allergic or sensitive to them. Removing certain foods for about 30 days is a very effective way to see if you are reacting to them. For example, that stubborn acne issue you’ve been having might go away simply by removing dairy! Some of the common foods that are good to test are dairy, gluten, eggs and soy. This doesn’t necessarily have to be forever (although depending on how you feel- you might want it to be!). If we give our bodies a break from certain irritating foods, we can heal our gut and stop the immune response (this goes back to my last post talking about leaky gut).
- Drink bone broth
Bone broth has health amazing benefits and is especially great for digestion. It is thought to “heal and seal” the gut- combating those problems that leaky gut can bring about. It also contains amazing vitamins and minerals in an easily accessible form. It is really easy to make on your own or can be bought from a few reputable sources.
Let me know if you try any of these tips or have anything else that works well for you!