6 Steps to Healthy Digestion

healthy digestion tips

Digestive issues are often tied to what and how you eat, so a few simple changes may help. Here I would like to share the strategies, tips, and tricks that have helped me to reduce digestion issues and are now an integral part of my way of eating, making me feel healthy and energized everyday. This is what I wish for you!

First of all, here a 2 interesting FACTS about our digestive system, did you know: 

  • 95% of your serotonin (the happy hormone) is manufactured in your digestive system. 
  • 80% of your immune system is manufactured in your digestive system. 

Our stomach is the gateway to your health, it is time we take charge of it. If you implement my suggestions you will boost your immune system, feel less bloated, and, most of all, digest with ease, which means looking and feeling fabulous! 

1. SLOW DOWN

We are all rushing. Rushing to eat, to squeeze in an errand, meet a deadline, get to an appointment; rushing. So, let us slow down. Start the process with your eating. 

Stop and actually sit down when you eat. Your body needs you to be calm to actually digest. If you are nervous, your digestive system is in “fight or flight” mode. It cannot work properly when it is stressed. Digestion is about transforming your food into fuel. When we get stressed, tired, or even nervous, our digestion does not function properly, and certainly not optimally.  

It is important to slow down so you can have more energy, or fuel, and also to avoid indigestion, bloating, acid reflux, and gas. Before you eat, try and remember to take a deep breath. Be grateful for the food you are about to eat, and also check in with your own body. Try and focus on being present in the moment and have awareness.  
Don’t shove the food in your mouth as you are running out the door or eat while standing at the counter as we have all done, myself included, more times than I care to remember. Be mindful. Take the time to pause when life gets busy. You will be amazed at the immediate improvement you will see and feel.  

Try the following amazing exercise develop your awareness and start to slow down:

  • Sit in a relaxed, comfortable position. Breathe through your nose, and notice how the air is slightly cooler going in and slightly warmer going out. 
  • Place one hand over our heart and one hand over your belly. 
  • Feel your heart beating, and thank your heart for being there for you all day every day, pumping your blood and keeping you alive. 
  • Feel your belly, noticing the rise on the inhale and the fall on the exhale. 
  • Thank your belly for digesting all the food you eat. 
  • Sit silently with your eyes closed, and allow yourself to be with yourself. 
  • When you feel ready, take a deep inhale and exhale, open your eyes, rise, and move back into your day. 

2. CHEW, CHEW, CHEW

Digestion begins in your mouth.  When you do not chew your food, it sets the stage for poor digestion. Chewing food has a lot of benefits as: 

Better absorption of nutrients: Better chewing breaks down the food into smaller particles. This makes the work of the intestines easier in order to digest food. The latest research conducted in 2013 concluded that the smaller food particles were better absorbed by the body as far as their nutritional value goes. 

More Saliva exposure: The more time we chew our food; the more time it gets to mix with our saliva. Saliva contains digestive enzymes which again help food to be digested. Saliva also breaks down the food which is easier on the Esophagus. 

Bacteria in the stomach: When food particles remain in the stomach undigested, the bacteria in the stomach has to work to break it down and will begin to putrefy which will give rise to bloating, gas, diarrhea, abdominal pain etc. 


Food Taste: The moment you start chewing your food, you also enjoy your food. Gulping down food does not let you enjoy the food you are eating. 

Chewing your food at least 30 bites will also force you to slow down your eating. Satiety signals can take up to 20 minutes to reach the brain and dampen appetite. Many weight loss experts believe that eating slowly helps prevent overeating. Try it out today! 

3. GET CULTURED

Our digestive system is composed of a network of beneficial bacteria that are responsible for assisting our digestive system to digest food, absorb nutrients, battle harmful bacteria, and eliminate toxins. When these bacteria are killed off due to food additives, antibiotic drugs, processed foods, our gut health is affected. 
Eating the right kind of fermented foods and avoiding foods that feed unhealthy bacteria can help nourish our healthy gut bacteria and balance the ratio of beneficial-to-bad bacteria, which will eventually reflect on our overall health and well being. 

MOST POPULAR FERMENTED FOODS 


1. Sauerkraut. Made from fermented cabbage rich in B vitamins and probiotics. 


2. Kimchi. Similar to sauerkraut but spicier and known as Korean kraut. It may contain peppers and other vegetables. Rich in antioxidants. 


3. Pickles. Made with cucumbers and spices. The best brands will just include organic cucumbers, salt (preferably sea salt) and water. 4. Milk Yogurt, Kefir-These cultured foods that are made with milk can regulate your digestive tract. Unlike fermented foods milk is mixed with certain types of live cultures like acidophilus and are kept in a stabilized environment to ensure the right cultures develop. 


5. Coconut Yoghurt, Coconut Kefir. It is a great option if you’re a dairy-free eater. Choose homemade raw coconut yogurt that contains antiviral nutrients like lauric acid and caprylic acid known to fight and kill yeasts and other forms of bad bacteria in the body. 


6. And: green bananas, fermented dark chocolate, tempeh, kombucha, seed cheese, tofu, sour cream, wine, beer, brewed ginger ale, cottage cheese, whey, soy sauce, yeasted breads (sourdough),Tabasco Sauce, Worcestershire Sauce, vinegar, “aged” cheeses like parmesan, blue cheese, and feta cheese. 

Add a little fermented food to your meals today, start with small portions and add up slowly. 

4. CLEAN OUT THE JUNK

Eat mostly whole foods. Our digestive system cannot digest processed foods, aka junk. I find that people often think that they are eating “clean”, but actually they are eating foods that are wreaking havoc on their body and causing inflammation. Food either gives us inflammation or fuel. 

So, why is junk food so addictive? Simply: it’s designed to make us want more…and more…and even more! Sugar, salt, fat and caffeine are the most addictive ingredients found in food. And they’re the main ingredients in junk food. Looking at any junk food nutrition label, you’ll likely see one, if not all of them listed at the very top. Fueling it with proper nutrition is just one more way of saying “I love myself.” 

5. STAY HYDRATED

Drinking enough water each day is crucial for many reasons: To regulate body temperature, keep joints lubricated, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, and keep organs functioning properly. Being well-hydrated also improves sleep quality, cognition, and mood. 

Experts recommend drinking roughly 11 cups of water per day for the average woman and 16 for men. And not all of those cups have to come from plain water; for example, some can come from water flavored with fruit or vegetables (lemons, berries, or orange or cucumber slices). 

My favorites are fresh lemon juice, fresh lime juice, cranberry concentrate, ginger slices, grapefruit, and fresh mint leaves. 

If you have trouble remembering to drink water, drink on a schedule. For example, drink water when you wake up, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and when you go to bed. Or, drink a small glass of water at the beginning of each hour. 
Your urine can be an indicator if you’re dehydrated. If it’s colorless or light yellow, you’re well hydrated. If your urine is a dark yellow or amber color, you may be dehydrated. 

6. MOVE YOUR BODY

In addition to diet, exercise plays an important role in maintaining optimal gut health. Recent studies have only just begun to unlock insight into the powerful role of exercise in promoting digestion, gastrointestinal health, metabolic capacity, disease prevention, and long term wellbeing. 

Any physical activity requiring you to move can become an exercise. It can range from simple walking to a more complex aerobic exercise. You can try working out at home by yourself or work with a personal trainer at a gym. What matters more than anything is consistency. Whether it be consistently walking 30 minutes a day, doing yoga poses in the morning, or jogging around your neighborhood—all that matters is that you keep it up. Long-term health and wellbeing comes from committing to an active lifestyle, above all else. Here area few ways to get more exercise in your daily routine: 

1. Schedule It! 
Pretend like you are scheduling a meeting. Physically block the time out of your day to go for a walk, hit the gym, take a yoga class, whatever activity fits your routine. Chances are if you schedule time out for yourself or even send yourself a calendar invite, you are more likely to commit to making it happen! 


2. Take the Stairs 
Opting to take the stairs is such a great idea because every little step counts! It really is all about getting movement and activity into your daily routine. So taking the stairs to your apartment, office, or anywhere in your day all add up and make a difference. 


3. HIIT Workouts 
High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT workouts are a great way to incorporate an intensive full body workout in a very short period of time. Generally, most HIIT workouts require very little machinery and space so they can be done virtually anywhere: at home, in a park, or even in your hotel room all at your convenience. If HIIT workouts are too extreme for you, you can start with a low-impact exercise like walking or strength training. You can also look into cardio routines. Not only will you be able to improve your gut health, but also exercising helps with weight loss and muscle mass development. 


4. More Mini-Walks 
Even a few minutes of walking around the office can help. Make an effort to take small breaks throughout the day to walk, stretch, and move your body…especially if you are sitting at a desk all day! Small breaks of movement may also help boost productivity as well! Next time try walking to lunch at work or set a timer so that every so often you are getting up and moving. 


5. Get Outside! 
Spending time outdoors is an awesome way to incorporate extra activity not to mention it’s also calming and nourishing to the mind, body, and soul. Finding a local park or trail to hike are excellent ways to get outside and incorporate daily movement. 

Most importantly, have fun with movement, enjoy the feeling of it! 

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