10 Tips to Improve Digestion
This post is an installment in our 52 Health Hinges series. Remember, “Small hinges swing big doors.”
As we’ve been discussing, a healthy digestive system is foundational to overall health. Last week, I introduced you to the Bristol Stool Chart so you look at your poop to help determine how your digestive system is functioning.
If you need some help to keep your trains running on time, here are some ideas to keep things moving:
- Chew your food. Taking the time to thoroughly chew your food will help fire up your other digestive organs, while also taking some pressure off of them. Slow down!
- Reduce or eliminate sugar and processed foods. Food is supposed to provide the body with nutrients, but sugar and processed foods not only don’t supply nutrients, but they rob you of extra energy and nutrients to metabolize those “frankenfoods.” Do your body a favor and eat whole foods instead.
- Drink water. The stomach needs water for digestion, especially for the health of the mucosal lining, which supports the small intestine bacteria for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients. Lack of water in the digestive system can result in ulcers, indigestion, heartburn, fatigue, brain fog, memory loss, and constipation.
- Get plenty of exercise. It takes healthy muscle tone all around the abdomen for food to digest properly and move food through our digestive tract. Increasing exercise can improve digestion, even if you don’t change what you eat.
- Eat more fiber. Eat a diet that includes whole foods, rich in fresh, organic vegetables and fruits that provide good nutrients and fiber to keep your colon healthy. It makes stool soft and bulky, speeds transit time through the colon, dilutes the effects of any toxic compounds and helps to remove bad bacteria from the colon. Make sure you get both soluble fiber, which absorbs toxins and unneeded cholesterol, and insoluble fiber, which hastens elimination.
- Add in probiotics. We need good bacteria to strengthen the immune system, reduce chronic inflammation, help remedy leaky gut, and more. You can boost your intestinal flora by adding naturally fermented foods into your diet, such as sauerkraut, pickles, and coconut kefir, or add a probiotic supplement.
- Sleuth out food sensitivities or allergies. Being allergic or sensitive to a food can wreak havoc on your system, with constipation or diarrhea coming up as a common symptom. If you’ve tried everything else, it might be time to dig deeper. The most common food allergies and sensitivities are to gluten, dairy, eggs, corn, and sugar.
- Routine. Do you notice that when you travel your bowel movements change? This speaks volumes to how important routine can be. Try to create a routine for yourself to give your body the signals it needs to eliminate properly. And on a related note…
- Don’t overschedule yourself. If you wake up late, run out the door, and stay busy all day, you may not be giving yourself enough time to eliminate. Try to manage your schedule so that you aren’t running yourself crazy in the morning. If mornings don’t work for you, then work it into your afternoon or nightly routine. And if you have the urge to “go,” find the time to make it happen!
- Try squatting. Squatting straightens your rectum, relaxes your puborectalis muscle, and encourages the complete emptying of your bowel without straining. You can buy a special stool specifically for this purpose, or just stack up some magazines or books.
Holistic Nutrition Lab: http://www.holisticnutritionlab.com/