Your gut directly impacts your immune system, making good gut health essential to overall well-being. If you don't have a healthy digestive track, it will inevitably affect the other functions of your body.
This means that maintaining a healthy gut should be one of your highest priorities. What can you do to naturally improve digestion and maximize nutrient absorption?
1. Stop eating a diet high in processed foods.
The number one thing you can do today to optimize your gut health is to stop eating processed foods. These foods often incorporate chemicals and other nasty stuff that doesn't belong in your body.
Not taking care of your digestive tract can lead to a condition called leaky gut, which can cause inflammation, fatigue and autoimmune diseases.
2. Calm down.
That's right, chill out! When you're stressed or on the go, digestion doesn't come as easily. One way to relax when you're eating is to practice mindfulness; for your next meal, sit down with no distractions (TV, phone, laptop) and savor every bite.
3. Chew your food well.
Digestion is an important part of gut health, and it begins when you chew your food.
Saliva is a mixture of enzymes, electrolytes and hormones that help break down and digest starches. If we don't chew our food properly, our brain doesn't trigger salivary amylase and undigested starches enter the small intestine — this can welcome unhealthy bacteria.
Try chewing at least 20 times per bite.
4. Make apple cider vinegar your BFF.
Having sufficient stomach acid is critical for digesting fats and proteins. Without sufficient HCL levels, we're prone to having a leaky gut and autoimmune issues.
Apple cider vinegar triggers HCL production by lowering the stomach pH. It aids in digestion and stimulates peristalsis (or waves of movement) in the colon.
Give your water a boost with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in the morning and again at night.
5. Eat your beets.
Beets contain betaine which helps to stimulate the flow of bile, detoxify the liver, and keep you regular. Bile is a fluid into which the liver excretes toxins for removal.
A great way to know how long it's taking you to digest and eliminate foods is to eat beets and see how long it takes for your stools to be pigmented. Ideally, you'll want to see pigmented stools within 18-24 hours. If you see bowel changes 3 days later, it may be time to change your diet and seek possible underlying causes.
Add beets to juices, grate them into salads or roast beets whole and have as a side dish.
6. Incorporate probiotics and cultured foods into your daily diet.
Fermented foods are essentially predigested. They increase your beneficial bacteria, which aids in digestion and helps fight off unwanted bad bacteria in your GI tract.
Try adding foods like sauerkraut, kombucha and coconut kefir to your daily diet to increase beneficial bacteria and keep you regular.
7. Bone Broth is essential.
Bone broth aids in digestion and helps heal the gut. It contains gelatin, which absorbs water and helps keep fluid in the digestive tract, and brings down inflammation in the colon.
Sip on bone broth to get its healing properties.