Last week we talked about the importance of healthy bowel function, and how to set your system up for consistent, regular movements. How we set ourselves up at the other end of our digestive tract is equally important! Digestion is the gateway for our body’s fuel. If you aren’t digesting your food well, your body won’t absorb the nutrients it needs to function well. Here are some tips for improving your digestion.
- Sit down to eat. The part of your nervous system that controls digestion only works when you are relaxed. If you’re driving, standing, walking, or rushing to get out the door, your body considers those actions the priority, and doesn’t bother as much with the digestion part.
- Eat foods your body recognizes. In general, the more processed the food, the more your body has to work to biochemically sort out the various parts, and the harder it is to digest.
- Chew your food well. Digestion starts in our mouth. When we chew our food well, we begin the mechanical process of breaking down the food into smaller pieces. This allows more surface area for digestive enzymes in our saliva and stomach to begin working on the food and aid in the digestive process.
- Have a salad at the start of your meal, and don’t saturate it with sweet salad dressing. The bitter flavor stimulates your body to produce enzymes and acid to digest the food, so the tradition of starting a meal with a salad is actually really beneficial for digestion. Sipping on water with lemon or a splash of apple cider vinegar has a similar effect.
- Avoid tight fitting clothing. Digestion is a mechanical process, and your organs have to move to function well. If your jeans are too small, belt is cutting into your waist, or spanx is restricting your abdomen, then your organs are restricted as well. Suspenders, empire waist bands, dresses, and pants with elastic (athletic wear, yoga pants, stretch pants) are your friend, at least where digestion is concerned!
- Stop eating at least 2 hours before bed, or stay upright for at least 2 hours after eating. If you’re lying down, the food bolus hangs out longer in your stomach, and makes your esophagus more vulnerable to the erosive activity of gastric juices. Having gravity on your side when you digest your food helps it to move in the right direction.
As usual, this post is for general information purposes and does not constitute a personal recommendation or prescribed plan. There are many things that can contribute to poor digestion, such as those listed above, food sensitivities, or other more serious health concerns. If you would like some help with your digestive concerns, please make an appointment. I love helping people with digestive concerns, including heartburn, GERD, Crohn’s, Barret’s esophagus, and others, so please make an appointment if you are in need of assistance.