5 Ways to improve your digestion
The processes of digestion—or the breakdown, absorption and assimilation of the food that we eat—is a vitally important piece of the puzzle that determines what nutrients we actually receive from our food and how our body uses those nutrients as fuel. No matter what symptoms we are experiencing, we could all use some help optimizing our digestive functioning because it has such a big impact on our overall health.
Watch the video below, listen to the audio on the podcast or read on to learn why healthy digestion is so critically important (especially if you have an autoimmune disease) and 5 simple ways to improve yours!
1. Track Your Symptoms
Before you begin, you want to get a good sense of where your digestive system is at. Are you constipated? Are you experiencing symptoms of gas, bloating, fullness or heartburn after meals? Using a food and symptom journal to track your symptoms and bowel movements is a great way to understand more about how your digestive system is functioning so you know how to best support it.
2. Slow Down & Chew Your Food Well
When we simply look at or think about food, it activates the production of saliva, stomach acid and enzymes which are needed to properly break the food down. If you're eating on the go or in front of the computer your body is not ready to start this process of digestion, so it's not going to effectively break things down which can lead to other health issues downstream.
If you're experiencing issues such as bloating, burping, heartburn or nausea after meals, simply try chewing your food very well. Aim for 20 chews per mouthful and see how you do!
3. Optimize Your Stomach Acid
The pH or level of acidity in our stomach is meant to be between 1.5 and 1.7, which is very acidic, because we need to break down all of the food that we eat into a form that can be absorbed by our small intestines. Contrary to popular belief, many cases of heartburn or acid reflux are not caused by the overproduction of stomach acid—but rather from having too little stomach acid. If you’re noticing indigestion, undigested food particles in your stool or heartburn, it could be a sign that you need some digestive support.
Try drinking one of the following before meals:
8oz glass of water with a generous squeeze of lemon
1/4 cup of water with 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
If you feel burning in your stomach or esophagus when drinking lemon or vinegar water, proceed with caution and consult with a practitioner, as it might be a sign that you have some inflammation and tissue damage, and need some soothing supplements or herbs prior to starting. It’s always about finding what works for you and not following a one-size-fits all protocol.
Our digestive system needs water to function properly. Dehydration slows down our digestion and our stools become harder to pass. A good guide is to divide your weight in half and drink that many ounces per day. (Ex: If you’re 160lbs you would aim for 80oz of water per day.) This will vary depending on your individual needs, climate and exercise.
5. Repopulate the Gut with Probiotics
Having a good balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut is crucial for the overall functioning of the digestive system! Depending on your individual needs, you can bring in a probiotic supplement or eat probiotic-rich foods. I like to incorporate fermented veggies, kimchi, sauerkraut and drinks like beet kvass or low sugar kombucha! With probiotics you’ll want to start low and buildup slowly to find what works for you.
It’s advised to work in conjunction with a practitioner to help you apply this information, so if you need more support, email me at email@example.com or book in a free 30-minute discovery session to chat more >>
Are you dealing with symptoms of chronic fatigue, brain fog, autoimmune disease, pain or digestive issues?
You’ve gone to doctor after doctor. You’ve received some answers, have started on medications and notice some relief (thank goodness!) but are still left feeling exhausted, stressed, inflamed and not fully yourself?
Or maybe every test has come back “normal” and your practitioners have told you that there isn’t anything they can do, to come back when things get worse, or to simply manage your stress better?
If yes, then you are someone who would benefit form 1:1 holistic health coaching.
Health coaching is a necessary extension of the health care system in that together we have more time to uncover issues, implement strategies and assess outcomes together. Autoimmune disease is complex and to address it we need to come at it from all angles (pharmaceutical therapies from your doctor while also focusing on root cause factors like gut health, diet, sleep and stress). I offer accountability, a knowledgeable resource and most importantly support.
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