Do you feel pleasantly energized and focused? Or are you belching and farting your way through the rest of the day? Do you feel tired and sluggish after meals? These are signs your digestive tract needs a tune-up.
Solid digestion is the cornerstone of good health. You could be eating the cleanest, organic, nutrient-rich diet in the world, but if you're not digesting well, you won't be absorbing all the nutrients from your food.
Here are my top tips to maximize digestive function:
1. Start off the day by drinking a glass of room temperature water with one to two teaspoons of organic apple cider vinegar. This stimulates hydrochorlic acid production to help you break down food.
2. Eat slowly, and relax during meals! A stressed body diverts energy away from digestive function, so you won't digest well. Sit down, light a candle, and visualize the nourishment you're getting from your meal.
3. Eat probiotic and enzyme-rich foods with meals to enhance digestion. An example is raw kraut. Drink fermented beverages like kombucha, kvass and kefir if you tolerate dairy. Consider taking a probiotic to balance gut flora.
4. Drink ginger tea between or after meals. Grate ginger root into a mug, then pour hot water over it and let steep for about five minutes.
5. Eliminate inflammatory foods from your diet. The main culprits are gluten (the protein found in certain grains such as wheat, rye, and barley), pasteurized dairy, and conventionally raised (not pastured, grass fed) meats. These foods contribute to the intestinal inflammation that can disrupt healthy gut flora and digestion.
6. If you suffer from heartburn, eliminate gluten, dairy and soy. Heartburn is exacerbated by food sensitivities, and gluten, dairy, and soy are the most common hidden food sensitivities.
7. Don't drink more than six ounces of water with meals. Too much liquid with meals dilutes your natural digestive juices.
8. Consider taking a digestive enzyme with hydrochorlic acid (HCl) with meals to improve digestion.
These tips will enhance digestion, but if you suffer chronically with poor digestion (frequent burping, gas, indigestion, heartburn, or constipation, to name just a few examples), you'll want to uncover the underlying cause.
Is it dysbiosis (bad bacteria overgrowth)? If so, what caused that? Dysbiosis is a main factor in poor digestion and can result in inflammation, throwing your whole system off-balance.
Eating too much sugar and processed food, drinking alcohol, and taking certain medications contribute to dysbiosis. Working with a holistic practitioner can help you identify the underlying cause of compromised digestion.