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The 4 Best Ways To Improve Your Digestion, From A Functional Medicine Doctor

Last updated on July 9, 2020
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At mindbodygreen, digestive health is a priority. That's one of the many reasons mbg created probiotic+, a supplement that features a combination of four targeted probiotic strains, specifically designed to beat bloating and aid digestion.

It's also why we value knowledgeable experts like Frank Lipman, M.D., an internationally recognized expert in the field of integrative medicine and the author of multiple best-selling books. To help optimize digestion now and always, we asked Dr. Lipman to share his best tips:

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Support your gut with probiotics.

Functional medicine practitioners consider the gut to be the epicenter of health and therefore recommend eating foods that support strong digestion and nourish and replenish the good bacteria that live there. To do this, we recommend regular intake of beneficial bacteria, both in supplementation and foods.

This includes a good-quality probiotic supplement along with regular intake of fermented foods, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, unsweetened kefir, yogurt, and pickled vegetables. I also recommend prebiotics, which serve as food for the probiotics. These occur naturally in garlic, onions, leeks, jicama, and Jerusalem artichoke, or you can find them in supplement form as well.

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Identify and remove food sensitivities.

Food sensitivities are a common cause of bloating and gas. If you haven’t already experimented with removing common food irritants such as gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, nightshade vegetables, beans, or grains from your diet, it's definitely worth a try. After two to three weeks of elimination, you can experiment by having each food, one at a time, and noticing if your body responds. Common symptoms include indigestion or heartburn, nausea, gas, bloating, constipation or loose stool, and can also include skin irritations such as hives or acne, along with brain fog or energy crashes.

Another group of common troublemakers is artificial sweeteners and diet soda. If you have not quit these products yet, I'd recommend kicking the habit.


Take your time to eat.

If you think about it, how many times have you eaten in a rushed state, on the go, in a car, or at your desk? When we eat in a rushed or frantic state, the body goes into "fight/flight" mode, which shuts down digestion. So sit, breath, feel gratitude for your meal, and enjoy it calmly while sitting down. Try to avoid watching TV or looking at your phone or computer, too.

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Remember to chew.

Seriously, don't forget to chew! Did you know that great digestion starts in the mouth? Your saliva begins the process of breaking down carbohydrates before it even hits your stomach. Not chewing thoroughly causes more work for your stomach, which further impedes the digestive process down the line—it’s a negative ripple effect. So just remember, chew, chew, chew! Aim to chew until your food is liquefied, which is usually about 20 to 30 chews.

Your entire body will thank you, and you’ll enjoy your food a lot more.

Frank Lipman, M.D.
Frank Lipman, M.D.
Functional Medicine Doctor & NY Times bestseller

For Dr. Frank Lipman, health is more than just the absence of disease: it is a total state of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social wellbeing. Dr. Lipman is a widely recognized trailblazer and leader in functional and integrative medicine, and he is a New York Times best-selling author of five books, How to Be Well, The New Health Rules, Young and Slim for Life, Revive and Total Renewal.

After his initial medical training in his native South Africa, Lipman spent 18 months working at clinics in the bush. He became familiar with the local traditional healers, called sangomas, which kindled his interest in non-Western healing modalities

In 1984, Lipman immigrated to the United States, where he became the chief medical resident at Lincoln Hospital in Bronx, NY. While there, he became fascinated by the hospital’s addiction clinic, which used acupuncture and Chinese medicine making him even more aware of the potential of implementing non-Western medicine to promote holistic wellbeing.

He began studying nutrition, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, herbal medicine, functional medicine, biofeedback, meditation, and yoga. Lipman founded the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in 1992, where he combines the best of Western medicine and cutting edge nutritional science with age-old healing techniques from the East. As his patient, chef Seamus Mullen, told The New York Times, “If antibiotics are right, he’ll try it. If it’s an anti-inflammatory diet, he’ll do that. He’s looking at the body as a system rather than looking at isolated things.”

In addition to his practice, he is also an instructor in mbg's Functional Nutrition Program.