8 Easy Ways to Support Digestion... that you can do anywhere- make sure you read to number 8, it's my favorite.
Tummy trouble got you down? Here are 6 simple ways able to assist your body in digesting a little more effortlessly.
1. Chew. Chew. Chew, and Chew Some More. Yes (my husband is smiling while reading this, because he is SO good at chewing each bit of food, and the amount of chewing he does some times drives me a bit nutty, however, he is really doing something great for his body), digestion begins in the mouth and the chewing both mechanically breaks food apart leaving less work for your stomach (which doesn't have any teeth) but it also allows for ample exposure to saliva. Saliva is key to digestion and has enzymes, protein and bacteria in it taking some of the first most important steps in digestion. It's all there for a reason! Helpful Tip: Try slowing things down and counting out 10 actual connections between your upper and lower teeth (or 20 or 30 if you can) and see if that helps.
2. Take a digestive enzyme before a meal to help give your digestive capacity a boost! I personally like a very inexpensive pineapple or papaya enzyme from Trader Joes, but just about any health food store has digestive enzymes. Normally, when we eat, our body squirts out some enzymatic juices to help you break down the food that’s coming into your stomach and intestines. However, if your GI tract, pancreas or gall bladder are compromised, you might not be producing as much as you need. Give this a try. Especially before very large meals- like a birthday supper or Thanksgiving..
3. Drink only about 4 ounces of a liquid with meals. When large amounts of fluid are consumed with a meal it dilutes digestive enzymes, stomach acid, and other important cofactors that assist both in the food breakdown and maybe more importantly ABSORPTION. Try drinking it before the meal if you are super thirsty- but leave at least 15-20 minutes before eating. Allow for at least 60 minutes after a meal before drinking a large amount of liquid.
4. Take a probiotic. These beneficial bacteria should be residing in your intestines. They aid in digestion of food, most especially fiber that makes it's way to the colon. Medications and stress can deplete our good bacterial supplies and allow for the bad bacteria to take over. You can easily supplement or include fermented/cultured foods at every meal which contain probiotics: sauerkraut, kim chi, miso, tempeh, yogurt, kombucha, kefir are all great examples.
5. Add more herbs and spices to your meals. Herbs and spices are included in the traditional dishes of almost every culture because of their ability to offer a touch of assistance to our digestion. Parsley, ginger, cumin, cilantro, fennel, mint are all a few examples of items you can toss into just about anything that you are cooking. They are known as “carminatives” and help to stimulate the production of “bile” which helps break down fats. You can also try things like Dandelion, Ginger, Mint, or Fennel tea.
6. Eat smaller more frequent meals. Not only will this aid in allowing your body to get the most out of everything you eat, you will be less tempted to over-eat or choose foods that are not as beneficial for your body, This alone will help improved digestion, by eating foods that are better for you.
7. Up your fruits and vegetables. This is a good idea for almost everyone for so many different reasons. Why this aids in digestion is due to the fact that God so miraculously packed into most fruits and vegetables the exact enzymes needed to digest them. They are foods that are packed with self-eaters, giving your body a little break as you eat them from doing and producing all of the work. Amazing right?
8. Smile while you eat and be thankful. A merry heart doth good like medicine. Think about the food you are eating and be grateful, think about the farmers that helped produce it, the rain it took to keep the fields hydrated, think about all that goes into making a meal, when it is prepared so lovingly for you. This may be the most important part of getting ready to eat.
What do YOU do to support your digestion? What has worked with tempering your tummy? I'd love for you to comment and share! Thanks again for reading.
Caitlin Johnson is a dietitian, wife, lover of ice cream, chef wannabe, California-girl, Christian, liver eating, "food-avore."
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