A little digestion love to help you ABSORB the nutrients you eat.
Source: Jessica Sepel
In nutrition school we learn, you are not what you eat; you are what you digest and absorb. We also learn that the gut is the 2nd brain of the body – it is so vitally important in helping us to sustain good health. We are taught in clinic that if your unsure what to treat, just treat the gut!
Your gut is the key to good health.
The purpose of good digestion is to turn the food you eat into fuel for your body’s cells. Many people I meet have poor digestion and what happens when we are not efficiently turning the food we eat into fuel? We feel fatigued, foggy, bloated, experience flatulence, endure nutritional deficiencies, constipation, diarrhea, reflux, weight gain and an inability to lose weight, cravings, low immune function (because the immune system lies in the gut…did you know that??!!) and hormonal imbalances – just to name a few.
In fact, we make serotonin (the feel good hormone) in our gut, so this may be why so many people with digestive or gut problems experience low and depressed moods.
How well are you digesting your food? If you are experiencing the symptoms above, it is most likely that your gut needs some loving!
The secret to healthy digestion and absorption lies in…
- Eating the right foods (clean – wholefoods) and avoiding the foods that don’t make us feel good.
- Eliminating any food intolerances.
- We need to have good amounts hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes in the stomach to break the food down properly.
- A healthy gut – a good balance of healthy bacteria. Your gut holds trillions of bacteria that help process your food, produce nutrients, and fight disease. I truly believe when the gut is repopulated with healthy flora, our health will effortlessly blossom. Eating and drinking clean foods, supports the healthy bacteria.
- Less bodily stress as the digestive system likes to shut down in times of stress. A stressed body is the number one health killer. I go on and on about this one.
- A clean and healthy lifestyle: less stress, more exercise and clean living (less exposure to environmental toxins and medications – such as antibiotics), to support the good gut bacteria and keep the harmful bacteria under control.
Here are my top tips that can improve your digestion and keep the health of your gut in top shape:
1. Apple cider vinegar – 1 tbsp in warm water on rising or use as salad dressing. This stimulates the hydrochloric acid in your stomach for digestion.
2. Probiotics – I take a probiotic supplement everyday. It repopulates the gut with good bacteria.
3. Eat probiotic whole foods- Sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir – found at most health food stores. Also eat prebiotic wholefoods – these foods feed and support the growth of good bacteria such as onions, garlic, dandelion greens, artichokes and bananas.
4. Supplement with– digestive enzymes, slippery elm or glutamine. A nutritionist or naturopath can support you with these supplements.
5. Lemon juice in warm water on rising – which stimulates gastric juices.
6. Eating slowly in a relaxed environment – the blood diverts away from digestive path in times of stress, oh yes it does!
7. Not drinking with your meals – 20 minutes before and after. Water dilutes the gastric juices that are vital for the break down of our food.
8. Cutting back on gluten containing foods. The gut just does not love the protein found in gluten.
9. Drink aloe vera juice in the morning – your health stores will assist you finding this. It is very soothing for the gut.
10. Start each meal with something raw (e.g. salad) to get your digestive enzymes fired up and ready to break down your food! I often chomp on a celery stick or cucumber before my meals.
11. Chew your food 10-20 times…before you swallow…please! You will put much less pressure on your digestive system by doing it.
12. Soak your grains, nuts and seeds for better digestion. Soaking them removes the nutritional inhibitors/phytic acid that the body struggles to break down.
13. Learn to love sprouts. You can add them to your salads. Sprouts are rich in enzymes.
14. Alkaline your body- avoid acidic foods like alcohol, caffeine, sugar, salt and wheat. Stay away from the processed and packaged! Sugar feeds the bad bacteria!
15. Lay off the ant acids as they decrease the hydrochloric acid in our stomachs e.g. Gaviscon/Mylanta/ Nexium.
16. Lay off the antibiotics – they effect the balance of healthy bacteria in the gut.
16. Try to eat fruit on an empty stomach – not straight after a meal as it ferments in the stomach and can irritate optimal digestion.
17. Do not eat late at night – aim to eat 2-3 hours before bedtime.
18. Drink up! And with filtered water if possible! Fluid helps to remove excess waste and keeps our bowels healthy!
19. Have a cup of chamomile tea at night – it soothes and relaxes the bowel wall – and aids constipation!
20. Increase your fibre intake! Eat plenty of fiber. This not only keeps your bowels moving, but also helps eliminate excess hormones. Love your Flax and leafy greens- they are high in fiber!