Everyone experiences issues every once in a while. Gas, heartburn, , indigestion – it’s all completely normal. What’s incredibly frustrating, however, is when these symptoms occur frequently for unexplained reasons, wreaking havoc on your daily schedule. Not only that, but there is also no blanket solution that everyone swears by meaning that interventions span and interweave across different avenues from medical to holistic to natural and so on. This blog post aims to provide a good starting point by looking at a number of simple but effective approaches that you can try immediately. Read on to learn about five natural ways to improve your .
Five Natural Ways to Improve your Digestion
Chew your food
You might not realise but there’s a lot of pieces to your overall digestive health. In fact, eating is only one small step. Your then has to initiate a number of processes, both mechanical and chemical, to ensure that is fully broken down, digested, assimilated and key absorbed. Chewing falls into the mechanical element of and is a key early step.
Poor chewing has been linked to poor absorption of (source). As a start, chewing helps to produce saliva which begins the process of . Yep, in fact, carbohydrates and fats begin their in the mouth! Chewing also helps to break down into smaller units to create a broad surface area enzymes to coat and slows down how fast begins moving down to the next stages i.e. the stomach etc. This essentially makes the rest of the process more efficient.
Ideally, we should try to chew every bite of from 20-50 times, putting down your fork and knife as you do so. Give it a try!
Eat real food
It might seem obvious but eating real, that is as close to nature as possible is key to good . This section and the idea of eating real has two levels.
At a general level, the aim is to remove all processed food (meaning essentially anything with more than 5 ingredients) from your in favour of whole, natural (i.e. what you find around the perimeter of the grocery store). The reasoning behind this is very straight forward; it’s we are designed to eat and recognise meaning it’s ideal for our system to handle. On the other hand, processed contain multiple extra ingredients and processing which can be taxing on our and contribute to unexplained or repeated issues.
At the more specific level, certain are known as potentially irritating when someone has a compromised . For example, people often find they are intolerant to like eggs, gluten, dairy and nuts. There’s a multitude of that you can try which all fall under the category of an elimination – paleo, SCD, FODMAP, keto, etc. No one works better than the other so it’s about finding an approach you feel best fits your . But the idea behind an elimination is that it’s done for a short period of time, usually 30-90 days, after which that were previously avoided are slowly introduced back into the . The break from these potentially irritable allows the to repair and restore. Check out our recent post on the 4R approach for more.
While fibre plays an important role in keeping things moving, water too is a huge component to help avoid constipation (source). Standard guidelines recommend drinking around 2 litres of water per day. However, if you exercise frequently or live in a warm climate this need may go up.
But while it’s important to get adequate water intake daily, be careful not to drink too much with . This can actually have a negative effect on by diluting the stomach acid and preventing it from doing its job which then also affects the other stages that follow.
Listen to your body
Do you actually listen to your ? It’s a funny thought but one that most of us actually would answer no to. Your ’s only way to communicate is to send you signals. Some of these are extremely obvious while others can take time to figure out. When you something your doesn’t like, it can signal in a number of different ways e.g. indigestion, headache, acne, fatigue to name just a few. What’s worse is that sometimes these symptoms will present almost immediately and sometimes they can take 4-16 hours to manifest.
Learning to listen can take a bit of time. One simple method is keeping a food diary. In this diary note down your daily as well as some comments to questions like:
- How hungry were you before/after the ?
- Did you notice any signs of indigestion? How soon after the ?
- Where do you feel the symptoms (e.g. is bloating in upper or lower )?
- Do you notice the symptom reappear after a certain ?
- Can you see any patterns appear over the week?
This is an incredibly valuable lesson for anyone to try. Don’t over the calories/macros but rather just note the actual and rough quantities. Here at the IINH student clinic, a food diary is a core first step that all new clients must complete.
The health and function of your digestive system depends significantly on the of the in your . On average, about 100 trillion bacteria (both good and bad) live inside your digestive system. We have a symbiotic relationship with these but inevitably certain things can offset the ratio of good to bad, creating some unwanted digestive issues. This is because these microbes interact with our DNA and help us regulate our appetite, facilitate in the of , control our weight, and keep our immune system running.
One of the easiest ways to help support your is to include beneficial in the . Enter fermented . In short, these are naturally rich in a variety of bacterial strains which can support overall balance. Check out this blog post we wrote about fermentation and all the benefits.
In summary, include more fermentedlike kimchi, sauerkraut, kvass, kombucha, kefir, , tempeh etc.
The bottom line is that simple changes can have a big impact on your overalland wellness. Eating a whole food high in fiber, healthy fat and is the first step toward good .