Dealing with poor digestion is a common concern, especially with those with celiac disease and digestion autoimmune conditions. There are some very simple ways you can support your digestion and the organs that make the process happen. Here are some tips you can try today to start feeling better!
1. Don't drink while eating
It's common to have a drink with dinner, almost everyone does it. Unfortunately it could be hindering your digestion. Your stomach likes to maintain an acidity level of 1 to 2 on the pH scale, which helps break down proteins, stimulates the release of digestive enzymes, aids in the absorption of vitamins like B12, and otherwise helps turns food into a slurry-like solution that makes digestion easier. But when you drink during meals, you slow down the entire process, which can lead to bloating and less-than-optimal digestion.
What can you do today? Try drinking mainly room temperature drinks only at 30 minutes before or after eating.
2. Get moving
A healthy gut means better digestion. Part of having a healthy gut means healthy gut bacteria. These guys living in your gut stimulate the digestive process and synthesize essential nutrients, including biotin and vitamins B12 and K. Everything from stress to diet can affect your gut health but another less obvious thing that change your gut for the better is exercise.
It wasn’t until recently that researchers discovered the link between exercise and the bacteria in the gut. Laboratory studies in rodents provide initial evidence that exercise can alter the bacterial composition of the digestive system.(1)
There have been adult studies as well that have proven exercise to be beneficial to gut health. European University looked at humans age 18 to 45 and found that simply exercising 3-5 hours a week improved microbiota. Furthermore Bifidobacterium, which supports the immune system, was 4 times more abundant in those that were physically active. (2)
Practice light exercise to improve the efficiency of the digestive system. Light exercise such as yoga and Pilates can also improve digestive system functions by reducing stress and anxiety levels, which can cause digestive disorders, too. Gentle twisting yoga poses to increase blood flow, reduce inflammation and gastritis, and strengthen the intestines.
What can I do today? Try going for a 20-30 minute walk, start small! Over training can be harmful for your digestion.
3 . Embrace the calm
What does stress have to do with digestion and how do you reduce stress when it seems impossible? You know when you're stressed or nervous and you get a sick feeling stomach or lose your appetite? Well stress with do that to you. Finding ways too reduce stress is one of the best ways to reduce unpleasant digestive symptoms.
How can stress affect your digestion?
- Stress can cause your esophagus to go into spasms and can increase the acid in your stomach causing indigestion.
- Under stress, your stomach emptying can be slowed making you feel nauseous.
- Stress can cause your colon to react in a way that gives you diarrhea or constipation.
What can I do today? Try a 5 minute guided meditation or so something to relax like taking a bath.
4. Eat Fibre
Make fiber a regular part of every day, and you will be regular every day. Fiber is the traffic cop that helps keep everything moving smoothly in your intestines. It slows down digestion and absorption so the glucose in food enters your bloodstream more slowly, keeping your blood sugar at a more even level. Additionally, fiber increases the weight and size of your stools, and by softening them, fiber helps them pass quickly through your system.
What can I do today? Careful with fibre, adding a huge amount at once can make you sick. Start with adding some soluble fibre sources into your diet (they're easier to digest). Examples being carrots, squash, plantains, sweet potatoes, beets and parsnips.
5. Chew Your Food
Slow down and chew each bite at least 20 times. That gives your stomach plenty of time to prepare to properly digest the nutrients you are giving it, and allows your body and brain to tell you when you’ve had enough.
What can I do today? Focus on counting your bites, it may feel weird at first but soon you'll be chewing longer out of habit.
6. Add Probiotics to your Diet
Probiotics are strains of beneficial bacteria that live in your digestive system. These bacteria are microorganisms called “probiotics” which means ‘for life’. These microscopic ‘bugs’ live in your intestines where they produce vitamins and short-chain fatty acids that feed and nurture other beneficial bacteria. These bacteria aid in digestion (breaking down the foods you eat), help prevent infection and reduce chronic inflammation. You can get more probiotics by taking a supplement or eating raw fermented foods like kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha.
What can I do today? Try eating a small amount of probiotic rich food. Often times it's best to start slow with probiotics and just start with some food sources. Try some low sugar kombucha or add some kefir to your smoothie.
How do you support digestion?