Digestive problems are so widespread nowadays that they almost seem like a normal part in our daily life.
It is thought that many of our health issues start with a faulty digestion, so paying attention to it seems to be the first step towards improved overall health and wellbeing.
Digestive issues may be common, but they are not normal.
Signs your digestive system is out of balance
- You experience belching, gas or bloated stomach
- You can’t lose weight around your stomach
- You have an inflammatory or autoimmune disease
- You are feeling off lately
- You feel better when you eat prebiotics
- You feel better when you eat soluble fiber
How to improve digestion naturally
If you read my previous article than you know that while what we eat matters, what matters even more is how we digest and absorb that food. Below are a some easy ways you can incorporate today to work on improving your digestion and with it your overall wellbeing:
1. Eat in a relaxed state
Stress and hurry can negatively affect the digestive system and can even shut it down completely, leaving you feeling heavy and bloated. Eating in a relaxed state will allow your body to register that there is food and to start producing digestive enzymes and gastric juice to start breaking down the food properly.
Our emotional state can also affect how we digest food, and this is a very important point to know. I will dedicate a separate post on this, as this topic deserves more attention.
2. Chew well
Digestion starts in the mouth. Amylase – a digestive enzyme that works on carbohydrates is contained in the saliva and it starts breaking it down as you chew your food. Chewing your food well and eating slowly will also spare the extra work of your stomach too, and will not overtax it.
3. Avoid drinking while eating
Staying hydrated is important. But avoid drinking large amounts of water or worse – juice, while eating if you want a properly functioning digestive system. Sipping on some water to help food down is ok.
4. Eat regularly
Try to eat at the same time every day. This will help your body to anticipate food and to start producing digestive enzymes already. Plus it is good for your metabolism, which also helps keep your weight stable. Eating two to three times a day is better for your digestion that snacking all day without a proper meal.
5. Prepare your food correctly
How we prepare our food affects how well we can digest it. Soaking grains and legumes before consuming them improves their digestibility and nutrient absorption. I will dedicate specific post on how to soak grains, nuts and legumes later on.
6. Improve your gut flora
Consuming fermented foods, such as tempeh, sauerkraut, fermented vegetables, kombucha, kimchi etc. are very important to balance our gut flora. Consuming food that acts as a prebiotic and is rich in fiber (think predominantly plant-based foods) is also going to help create a healthy gut.
7. Proper food combining
Combining your food properly can kick-start your digestion and be really helpful, especially if your digestive system needs a reset. I have written an extensive article about proper food combining here, so read it if you want to learn more about this.
8. Improve your posture
Be mindful of your posture when you eat, walk and even your toilet posture! Using a squatty potty can be very helpful in relaxing the sphincter muslces and for a proper alignment.
Optimizing the function of your digestive system will also lead to better mental, emotional and physical health and is so worth exploring further!