I'm sure you've heard the phrase "you are what you eat." I'd like to take that idea one step further to say that "you are what your body can do with what you eat." Think about it: if your digestive system is weak then you aren't absorbing nutrients from your food. If you aren't absorbing nutrients you can't be healthy, even if your diet consists of quinoa and kale!
How do you know if your digestive system is weak? Well, if you're eating modern day foods (that's all of us!), it's likely your digestive system could use some support. Restoring the health of your digestive system is the most important thing you can do for your overall health.
Here are three simple steps to improve your digestion:
1. Reduce stress.
Likely, you already know that stress affects your quality of life, but what about its impact on that bowl of oatmeal you had this morning? Turns out, stress has a lot to do with digestion. When your body is in a heightened state, your digestive system literally shuts down. It's unable to properly breakdown and absorb the nutrients from your food and deliver them to your cells.
Make sure that you always sit down to eat, preferably at a table and not in the car (you know who you are!). And take a deep breath or two before eating. Taking the time to pause will signal your brain you're ready to eat, which activates your digestive fire resulting in better digestion of your food.
2. Add probiotic-rich foods to your diet.
Probiotics are the good bacteria in your body and are the miracle-workers for your digestive health. We are born with these beneficial bacteria but environmental factors have disrupted the balance for many of us. And cultured foods, which were a common part of our ancestor's diets, eaten daily in many cultures, are being under-used in our modern kitchens.
Eating plenty of probiotic-rich cultured foods will enhance your digestion and boost your immune system. Great foods to try are sauerkraut, miso, coconut kefir, and fermented vegetables. A high quality yogurt is always a good choice. Or, consider introducing probiotics through supplementation.
3. Begin your day with a smoothie.
I often start my day standing in front of the blender with a pile of vegetables and fruit, seeds or nut butter and a superfood. Blending a morning smoothie is a ritual I began years ago when I was struggling with a weak digestive system.
Smoothies are a great way to pack in a lot of nutrients all at once in an easy-to digest form. Digestion takes energy (in fact 80% of our energy goes back into digesting food). So, taking a break from digestion will both give your digestive system a rest and leave more energy for you.
Here's a great probiotic-rich smoothie to get you started. Drink it at your kitchen table, not on the run, and you'll action all three of my recommendations.
Happy Belly Smoothie
- 2 cups blueberries
- 2 cups spinach
- 1 tablespoon flax seeds
- 2 tablespoons almond butter
- 2 scoops vanilla protein powder
- 1 cup coconut probiotic drink
- 1 cup coconut milk
In a high speed blender, blend all of the ingredients. Enjoy!
Photo courtesy of the author