If you experience bloating during the seasons or suffer from digestion issues, check out my seven signature tips for building a healthier gut. Remember, the majority of your serotonin (the happy hormone) is manufactured in your digestive system, and most of your immune system resides in or is related to the gut.
1. Slow down.
We are all rushing — to eat, to squeeze in an errand, meet a deadline, get to an appointment. So, let us slow down. Start the process with your eating. Stop and actually sit down when you eat. Your body needs you to be calm to actually digest, and digestion is about transforming your food into fuel. When we get stressed, tired or even nervous, our digestion doesn't function properly, and certainly not optimally. Before you eat, try and remember to take a deep breath. Be grateful for the food you're about to eat, and also check in with your own body. Try and focus on being present in the moment.
2. Chew, chew, chew.
Digestion begins in your mouth. When you do not chew your food, it sets the stage for poor digestion. Poor digestion opens the door to let in the unwanted: weight gain, acne, poor sleep, hormonal issues, adrenal fatigue, constipation, acne, IBS, low sex drive, mood swings, and food allergies, to name a few. Serious health issues are not far behind. Most importantly, when you don't digest properly, your body can't transform your food into energy. I suggest 30 chews per bite.
3. Check out!
Yes, you heard me. Put down the phone, BlackBerry, and iPad. Turn off the TV, sit down and just enjoy the activity of eating. Give yourself some quiet time so you can de-stress and digest! I know life gets busy. I'm a full-time mom, business owner, wife, athlete, and health coach. I know what it's like to be busy, to be constantly planning ahead to the next moment. But living and eating this way is causing you to be missing the moment that you're in. If I don't give myself a little check out time, I get tired, moody, gain weight, feel depressed, and have poor digestion.
4. Get cultured.
Start adding a good, quality probiotic to your daily routine. Incorporating cultured foods and drinks to your life, such as yogurt, miso, dairy or nondairy kefir, kefir water, kombucha, cultured vegetables, and other cultured foods is a great way to improve digestion and overall health. These foods have been around for centuries. By adding these foods or another high-quality probiotic to your lifestyle, you'll lose weight, assimilate your nutrients better, have clearer skin, better sleep, and decrease your body’s inflammation.
5. Clean out the junk.
Eat simple and eat clean. When we eat junk, we end up feeling like junk. I find that people often think they're eating clean, but actually they're eating foods that are wreaking havoc on their body and causing inflammation. Food either gives us inflammation or fuel. I always vote for the fuel!
6. Stay hydrated.
Make sure you're drinking plenty of water. I like to add flavor to my water so I that I don't get bored. This not only boosts flavor, but also enhances digestion if you choose the right additions. My favorites are fresh lemon juice, fresh lime juice, cranberry concentrate, ginger slices, grapefruit, and fresh mint leaves.
Put on your sneakers (or yoga clothes), because exercise is vital for digestion. Get moving! When you move your body, you move the vital energy in your body, and this is key for your digestion. Even if you can only manage 12-15 minutes per day, get your heart pumping and your digestion will improve. Plus, you will release key endorphins that will make you feel happy and less hungry.
Follow these simple steps and watch your body transform while you digest with ease!