Having poor digestion can lead to many unpleasant health symptoms that can over time wreak havoc on your happiness.
Some of the symptoms of a poorly functioning digestive system are constipation, loose bowel movements, excess gas, bloating, acne, skin rashes, headaches, migraines, irritability, stomach pain, lower back pain and low energy. Not to mention the poor assimilation of nutrients from the food you eat which can lead to deficiencies, and less bang for your buck with every dollar you spend on healthy food, too!
No matter how bad your digestion is now, have hope as there are always ways to improve your digestion and help it to function more efficiently.
Here’s a few easy to implement tips to get you started.
1. Ensure you are sufficiently hydrated with pure water and fresh fruit and vegetable juices.
Hydration is key for an optimally functioning body and helps to flush waste out of the body that could be hindering efficient digestion. Always drink the majority of your water and especially fresh fruit and vegetables juices on an empty stomach, not with or after eating.
This helps the hydration go straight into your cells and ensures the digestive fire required to digest solid foods is not diluted with liquids. One of the easiest and most powerful tips for boosting digestion is to not eat straight away upon waking. Instead, focus on drinking a lot of good quality water and some fresh vegetable juice after that. This will help your body to excrete the waste from the previous day before loading up on more food.
2. Eat when you’re hungry and eat until satisfied, not stuffed.
The majority of people today eat according to a schedule – it’s 7am, so it’s breakfast time. It’s your lunch break, so it’s time for lunch. While routine is helpful in our busy world we've become so attached to certain social formalities and ideas around eating that we're often eating when we're not even hungry, or overeating past the point of comfort. This is a recipe for slow and inefficient digestion.
Of course in today’s world, there are some circumstances in which eating is dictated by your job or whatnot, but you can still choose to eat only the amount you feel ready for at those times or to have easily digested foods with you like fresh juices, smoothies, fruits, vegetable sticks, salads, avocado.
Tune in to your body’s signals for when it’s hungry and when to stop eating. This is a daily practice that takes time and commitment to master. Over time it will increase your presence, knowledge of your body, emotions and food attachments, help you to maintain a balanced weight, higher energy and yes, improve your digestion!
3. Get your digestive enzymes and fermented foods.
These can really assist your digestive function, especially if your diet includes animal products, refined sugars, refined carbohydrates or a lot of fats, even healthy fats (and of course processed foods!). They also will help you to assimilate more nutrition from the foods you are eating with them.
I recommend taking a high quality digestive enzyme containing hydrochloric acid before or with every meal and/or including freshly made or store bought fresh, raw fermented veggies like sauerkraut or kimchi. These must be the unpasteurized kind found in the refrigerated section at your health food store, not the canned or jarred kind with added sugars and vinegars. Enjoy a half cup with each meal. Check out this post for a how-to on making fermented veggies at home.
Of course, I must mention that also doing at-home enemas or getting professional gravity-fed colonics is massively helpful in eliminating old waste and gas, and improving your bowel function! (They're a must if you’re not getting the improvements in your digestive function that you’d like.)
4. Use herbs for digestive support.
My favorite is Gynostemma, which has a double direction adaptogenic affect on the central nervous system. It helps to calm the system when overactive and stimulate when under active or depressed. It has a similar effect with weight loss and weight gain, and also with digestion, depending on the needs of the person taking it. It’s innate intelligence works with the body to bring back its natural adaptability.
I love to mix 1 heaping teaspoon in a mug with vanilla stevia and a pinch of cinnamon, or with a little fresh almond milk and raw honey. So good!
Peppermint and ginger are also wonderful herbs to support digestion. They're best when you use fresh mint and fresh ginger slices in a big pot of hot water and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before drinking. Add a dash of raw honey and it tastes amazing!
I hope you enjoy experimenting with these tips…a healthy gut leads to a much more enjoyable life!