I recently wrote a guest post for Shannon Kadlovski and BareNaked Nutrition about the importance of proper digestion and 10 ways to achieve good digestion naturally.
I have shared it with you guys below and ask that you visit www.shannonkadlovski.com to learn more. The site is full of valuable information, fun cooking parties, and resources – check it out!
POST – 10 Ways to Improve Digestion, Naturally (from www.shannonkadlovski.com)
Do you ever feel bloated after eating? Have you ever experienced heartburn or gas? Do you find that your food feels like it’s just sitting in your gut? These symptoms indicate that your digestive system may need some help.
Digestion is the process of breaking down foods and drinks into smaller molecules that can be absorbed and utilized by the body. Proper digestion is essential to good health, but is very often over looked. Nutrients are needed to repair damage, generate new cells, and support body functions. In order for the body to use the nutrients we eat, we must have good digestion. Food must be broken down into smaller molecules to be absorbed by the blood stream and utilized by cells. Good digestion starts with having proper levels of stomach acid and digestive enzymes. These two factors are required to properly digest food, but are commonly depleted as a result of bad eating habits. Consuming large amounts of cooked food is difficult on the digestive system and depletes digestive enzymes, while the consumption of large amounts of liquids during mealtime can wash away salivary enzymes.
10 Ways to Improve Digestion, Naturally
- Chew! Chew! Chew! – I cannot mention enough how important chewing is to good digestion. Digestion starts with chewing. Chewing is the mechanical breakdown of food and helps to increase surface area for enzyme contact. It also helps to trigger the rest of the digestive process. It is important to chew until your food becomes a paste.
- Consume raw fruits and vegetables – These items naturally contain enzymes, which help to assist digestion.
- Relax – Stress depletes stomach acid (HCl) and therefore leads to poor digestion. Perform activities to reduce stress such as yoga and deep breathing.
- Make mealtime about eating – Turn off the TV, put down the book, sit at the table, and avoid eating on the run! Removing distractions during mealtime helps to promote proper digestion. Take your time, put your fork down between bites, and enjoy your meal!
- Don’t drink while eating – Save liquid consumption for before (about 20 minutes) or after (about 30 minutes) a meal. Drinking while eating can slow down digestion and reduce the amount of stomach acid needed to properly break down your food.
- Lemon water – Lemon gets your digestive fire roaring. Squeeze half of a fresh lemon into a glass of room temperature or warm water every morning on an empty stomach or 20 minutes before a meal. Lemon water helps improve digestion and also helps to increase metabolism.
- Eat fermented foods – These are loaded with probiotics (good bacteria), and are rich sources of enzymes. Probiotics and enzymes both benefit digestion and the breakdown of food. Examples include plain yogurt, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, kombucha (fermented tea), and kefir.
- Avoid carbonated drinks and processed foods – They reduce levels of HCl (stomach acid) and lead to abdominal pain, gas, bloating, and acid reflux.
- Avoid coffee and alcohol – Consuming coffee and/or alcohol with a meal increases stomach-emptying time, which causes the stomach to empty its contents prematurely. This results in painful digestion and diarrhea.
- Supplement – If you are in need of a little extra help in the digestion department, you can supplement with probiotics and/or digestive enzymes. This will help re-colonize your gut with friendly bacteria and promote good digestion. When taking probiotics, choose one from the refrigerator section of your local health food store, and one with over 2 billion live organisms. Also make sure that your supplements do not contain any fillers or additives.