Did you know that there are ways to improve your digestion other than by eating healthy and taking probiotics, supplements and/or medication?
Bad eating habits (and I’m referring to the way you eat, rather than what you eat) strain your digestive organs - your stomach, small and large intestines, pancreas, liver and gallbladder. Over the long term, that strain can build up and these organs may start to perform less than optimally.
Today I'm going to share some pointers on how you can make the digestive process as easy as possible on your body by taking the pressure of extra work off you digestive organs.
Here are five simple tips for improving digestion:
Drink a small cup of water with a generous squeeze of lemon juice half an hour before each meal. This will wake up your digestive system and cause your stomach to start producing digestive juices (saliva, gastric juice, pancreatic juice, bile, and intestinal juice). Sounds kind of gross, but these juices are vital for good digestion!
Take a few deep breaths before starting your meal or snack. When we eat, we want to have our parasympathetic nervous system engaged – that’s the rest and digest response. In order to engage that system, we must feel relaxed, otherwise, our sympathetic system is switched on - that's our fight or flight setting, which does not lend itself well to digestion. In this mode, our body sends our blood to our heart and away from our digestive organs because we don’t need to digest when a bear is coming at us, we need to run! The more relaxed you are, the more efficient your digestion.
Chew each mouthful 30-50 times. This is the recommended number of chews. But don’t make yourself go from 10-50. Start by creating awareness around your chewing, and adding 3-5 extra chews per mouthful every few days. Digestion starts in the mouth, where your teeth and saliva start breaking down food, especially carbohydrates. Skip this step, and you're pressuring your intestines to do more work than they are meant to. Chewing well also slows down your eating speed and gives your stomach time to tell your brain that you’re getting full. By eating more slowly, you end up eating less than if you vacuumed your dinner down in four minutes.
Eat without distractions. Focus on your meal. Notice your food - its colours, textures, and flavours. This means no TV, no phones, no laptops, no computers, no tablets, no magazines and no books. Just you and your food – and possibly some company if you aren’t eating alone. This can be hard because we’re so used to constantly being distracted. Eating without distractions will help you focus on your chewing and result in a greater enjoyment of your meal, slower eating, and less overeating.
Drink no more than half a cup of liquids with your meals. Any more and you will dilute your digestive juices too much. You want those juices to be as concentrated as possible to ensure optimal digestion. Diluted digestive juices can lead to improperly digested food, gas, heartburn, and bloating.
These five simple steps can make a big difference in your digestion. Try one, or try them all. And know that by doing so, you are taking care of your body, so that it can take care of you.