Easy tips to improve digestion
Digestion is fundamental to our overall health. Every cell that makes up every tissue that make up every organ depends on the body’s digestive system to provide the nutrients it needs. Maintaining normal digestion, assimilation, and elimination is a necessity, and when these functions don’t work properly, we may not be aware that these dysfunctions are contributing to so many health problems.
Many factors contribute to proper digestion, absorption, and utilization of the foods needed to nourish cells, tissues, and organs. The stomach, small intestine, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and large intestine are involved in the digestive process. The stress level, emotions, endocrine and nervous systems can affect digestive functioning, as well as not chewing food properly, eating on the run, poor diet, not enough digestive juices and enzymes, leaky gut syndrome, bad gut flora, etc.
A healthy system does not usually need additional support but if you find that your digestion is not working optimally, here are some easy tips that may help.
1. Take a deep breath and relax
We need to be in a parasympathetic state to digest food. So sit down, relax and enjoy your meal. Eat slowly without any distraction (no phone, pc or tv), the only distraction allowed is a good company!
2. Chew your food properly
If you don’t take the time to properly chew your food, the brain does not get the message to trigger the proper digestive processes. Food does not get broken down enough, placing a burden on the stomach and creating many problems down in the digestive tract.
Undigested foods impact the villi and microvilli of the small intestine causing dysfunction of the lining of the small intestine, the leaky gut syndrome (the lining becomes leaky). This allows proteins and fats to pass through the gut into the bloodstream in inapproriate sizes generating an immune reaction. Many allergies, particularly to foods result from incomplete digestion along with the leaky gut syndrome.
The large intestine deals with the leftovers from digestion. The problem with maldigested foods is that they are full of parasites, microorganisms, and undigested fats. These maldigested foods are degenerating in the colon, causing dysbiosis and disrupting the healthy gut flora which may lead to inflammation in the colon and Candida or yeast overgrowth.
3. Lemon juice and raw apple cider vinegar
Drink the juice of half a lemon squeezed in warm water or 1 tsp - 1 tbs of raw apple cider vinegar 20 - 30 minutes before meals.
This will lower the stomach pH and stimulate secretion of digestive juices. Decreased hydrochloric acid (HCl) production may lead to poor digestion, with such symptoms as gas, bloating, and discomfort after meals. Low HCl production is associated with many health problems, for example iron deficiency anemia (poor iron absorption) and osteoporosis (decreased calcium absorption). General allergies and specifically food allergies are also correlated with low HCl. With low stomach acid levels, there can be an increase in bacteria, yeasts, and parasites in the intestines.
Rosemary, ginger, cumin, or orange peel can also be used to make tea and taken before meals.
We also need the mineral zinc to produce enough hydrochloric acid. So make sure you include foods rich in zinc in your diet.
4. Digestive bitters
These herbs can be helpful in the short term to jump-start the digestive flow.
Dandelion root - enhances the flow of bile by increasing bile production. It improves conditions such as liver congestion, bile duct inflammation, gallstones and jaundice. It also contains inulin which promotes the growth of bifidobacterium and lactobacillus.
Ginger - seems to be a digestive stimulant and is used to improve weak digestion. Bile flow can be improved with the help of ginger as can the digestion of fat. A warm cup of tea made by boiling a few slices of root in 1 or 2 cups of water can be ingested 30 minutes before meals.
Peppermint - helps tone the digestive tract, both by relaxing the surrounding muscles and by promoting elimination of gas.
Marshmallow - can soothe and protect the digestive tract lining
Cinnamon - serves as a postmeal digestive aid and can help with heartburn.
Cayenne - works in the mouth to stimulate salivary flow and increases secretion of digestive juices by the stomach
5. Probiotics and Prebiotics
Include naturally fermented probiotic foods and liquids in your diet such as fermented vegetables, kombucha, beet kvass, unsweetened plain yogurt, kefir, etc. These contain the necessary good bacteria to rebuild the microflora and are predigested so that the body can absorb the nutrients more easily. When food is cultured or fermented it is more nutritionally dense providing B vitamins, minerals and amino acids needed for proper body functioning including digestion.
6. Include therapeutic foods for digestion
Bone broth - contains many minerals and valuable nutrients that support digestion and heal the intestinal lining
Pineapple - useful in small intestine and pancreas dysfunction; contains bromelain which is proteolytic, anti-inflammatory enzyme
Cabbage (juice) - great ulcer remedy for stomach and duodenal ulcers; kills parasites
Beets - support gallbladder and liver function
Garlic - useful in killing parasites
Papaya - helps digest protein
Radish - helps remove deposits and stones from the gallbladder by improving bile flow; can calm gastric discomfort and act as a natural laxative
Chard/Kale/Spinach - contain lots of fiber great for digestion and elimination
Fennel - excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, fiber, trace minerals and anticancer coumarin compound; it’s a truly healing food for digestive dysfunction
Artichoke - promotes healthy bacteria in the intestinal tract, aids digestion; nausea, bloating, loss of appetite and even abdominal pain may be improved with the use of artichoke
Psyllium Husk - high fiber content; retains water in the stool and stimulates intestinal peristalsis
Aloe vera - helps stimulate colon activity and prevents constipation