You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t eat so fast and that it's wise to sit down while eating. And of course, never eat while on the run. But there are a couple other ways you can improve digestion that you may NOT have thought of that work for quite a few people.
1. Drink Water
Many people do not drink enough water. I don’t suggest drinking water or any other fluids during meals as the liquid dilutes the digestive enzymes that the body secretes. However, drinking enough water throughout the day hydrates the body helping all the organs to perform at optimal capacity, including the organs of elimination. If you typically experience constipation, this could be the missing factor to help move things along.
2. Take Digestive Enzymes
Did you know that cooking food destroys many of the precious digestive enzymes that were once present? Our bodies only have a certain amount of food-digesting enzymes. When we eat plenty of raw foods or plenty of raw foods alongside our cooked meals, we are providing our bodies with enzymes to help break down the food. When we do NOT have enough enzymes, the foods are left to rot in our bellies and the digestive tract leading to issues like flatulence, bloating and indigestion. I suggest taking a high-quality digestive enzyme with any cooked meal or with foods that you have trouble with digestion.
3. Take Probiotics
There are over 100 trillion good bacteria in our bodies that play a vital role in our overall health and well-being, particularly to immune function and digestion. Consuming pro-biotic rich foods is part of the tradition in many cultures. Many clinical studies have shown that probiotics can soothe a variety of gastrointestinal ills such as IBS, diarrhea, Crohn’s and more! I’ve worked with a client who reported becoming regular in his bowel movements after only 3 days of taking probiotics and digestive enzymes. This was after 50+ years of only 2 bowel movements a week! I’m sure you can imagine the relief he felt. I suggest adding probiotic supplements to your diet and/or probiotic rich foods and drinks such as: kombucha tea, yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchee and miso soup.
4. Practice Proper Food Combining
Our bodies are amazing and complex machines. Sometimes we forget that. To eat simply will help your digestion tremendously. There are a couple easy rules to remember in order to get the best digestion possible out of your foods. Don’t mix protein and starches when eating. Starches are digested with salivary amylase, which is released in the mouth. The digestion of proteins begin with hydrochloric acid (HCL), secreted in the stomach. HCL and amylase cancel each other out. One cannot digest well while the other is present. Sugar (both table sugar and fructose in sugar) also hinders digestion. If you’re going to eat fruit, eat it 30 minutes before a meal. And desserts really shouldn’t be eaten after a meal, as they are digestive bombs! If you want to eat dessert, best to eat it alone. (That’s not so bad, is it?)
5. Slow Down
I know I've hinted on this above, but it’s worth elaborating on. Many of us eat way too fast! Digestion begins in the mouth with proper chewing and the secretion of salivary amylase. Your stomach doesn’t have teeth, in case you didn’t know. You want your food to be as close to a liquid state as possible by the time it reaches your belly. Not only that, the more you slow down, the more you enjoy your food. The more you enjoy your food, the less likely you are to overeat. It’s a practice in mindfulness. Being mindful of your food, your surroundings and the people around you. Noticing the amazing food that is sustaining your body and life-force. Allowing time for proper digestion and signalling when your body is done.
When you take these 5 tips into practice, you will notice a dramatic shift in your digestion. I’ve seen it time and time again.
But most importantly, remember to slow down and enjoy the meal. The same can be said about life, yes? :)
Emyrald Sinclaire is a Certified Natural Health and Holistic Nutrition Practitioner (CNHP; CHNP) She specializes in detoxification programs, internal cleanses, and helping clients build strong immune systems. She also travels internationally to do raw food workshops, yoga retreats, and personal coaching. In addition, Ermyrald is a Certified Power Yoga Instructor and a Certified Raw Food Chef from the SunKitchen. For more information, visit PureRadiantSelf.com.