The digestive system is one of the most complex systems in the body. There are numerous factors that contribute to a healthy, regular digestive system. Some of the most common digestive disturbances people experience are bloating, irregular or infrequent bowel movements, heart burn, indigestion, loose stool, cramping and more. Addressing the root cause of your digestive imbalance and healing your gut is essential in order to achieve optimal health. Here are a few ways you can slowly change your habits to improve your overall digestive health.
1. Drink water away from meals. Drinking too much water during a meal can actually dilute your digestive juices which can interrupt or slow down the process of digestion. It would be better to drink a glass of water slightly before a meal instead. If necessary, take small sips of water while eating, instead of chugging a whole glass. Staying well hydrated throughout the day is essential for optimal digestion.
2. Take a Probiotic daily. A multi-strain (human-sourced) probiotic supplement is incredibly beneficial to the digestive system to strengthen gut flora and intestinal health. A probiotic will also contribute to a stronger immune system. Try to incorporate probiotic foods into your diet daily, such as kimchi, miso, kefir, tempeh, yogurt, sauerkraut, and kombucha. Speak with your Nutritionist or Naturopathic Doctor to find out which probiotic supplement is best for you.
3. Eat slowly. Eating quickly is the fastest way to bloat and potentially overeat. When we eat too quickly, our stomach doesn’t have time to signal the brain that we’re satiated, which often leads to over consuming food. Chew each bite very well before taking another one. The more we chew our food, the easier it is for our body to digest that food and absorb nutrients from it.
4. Walk after eating. Going for a walk 10-15 minutes after eating is a great way to encourage optimal digestion and can help to regulate blood sugar levels.
5. Stimulate your digestive system. First thing in the morning, drink a glass of water with 1 tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar and/or juice from half a lemon, on an empty stomach. Work your way up to this dose. You can begin with 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and slowly increase the amount, according to your personal tolerance.
6. Avoid eating when stressed or distracted. This is a big one that I think many of us are guilty of. When the body is under stress, it produces stress hormones that focus on managing that stress, not on digesting food properly. If you’re feeling very stressed or upset, spend a few minutes taking deep breaths before your meal to calm down, ground yourself, and to prepare your mind and body to eat. Many people eat while they are watching TV, driving or walking around. When we do this, we aren’t paying attention to what we are eating, how much we eating and how quickly we are eating. All of these things effect the way our body processes food. Aim to sit down in a calm environment, with minimal distractions, while engaging all five of your senses.