Tips for Easy Digestion and a Happy Tummy
By Joanne Aponte, ND • July 12, 2018
- Give your digestive tract time to rest. Eat 3 discrete meals per day and 1-2 snacks if needed. Avoid constant snacking and small meals throughout the day. Your digestive tract needs REST in between meals. Stop eating 2-3 hours before bed, and fast for 12 hours each night.
- Reduce hard to digest foods. Watch quantities of refined/white foods, processed foods, saturated and unhealthy fats (canola oil, soybean oils, trans-fat, dairy, meat), alcohol, and sugar. These foods tend to be more difficult to digest so consume smaller quantities with your meals.
- Chew your food 30 times with each bite, it should be a mushy/liquid consistency before swallowing. The process of digestion needs to begin in the mouth!
- Eat fermented veggies (sauerkraut, kimchi etc) – up to 1-2 tbsp at the beginning of meals. These foods stimulate digestive juices and provide probiotics.
- Eat simpler meals with fewer ingredients – if you have pizza followed by a brownie ala mode you are likely to experience discomfort. Instead, have a salad that fills at least half your plate with the pizza and skip dessert. If you are having a pasta dish, skip the bread and have a plate of veggies instead.
- Avoid water with meals. Drink room temperature liquids and consume liquids away from meals. At mealtime limit water to small sips in-between swallowing of food.
- Consume adequate fiber to help healthy elimination. 2 tbsp of chia and/or ground flax seeds daily is a great way to get extra fiber. Other fiber sources include vegetables, fruits, beans/lentils and whole grains such as oatmeal and bran. Men should aim for 35 grams per day and women for 30 grams per day.
- Take time before eating to enter a more relaxed state. Avoid stressful discussions, watching TV and working at a computer while eating or doing anything that keeps you from feeling calm (hard to do, I know!). Our body is only able to digest food when we are in parasympathetic mode called “Rest and Digest mode”. When we are very active or stressed our sympathetic nervous system is mainly at work, this is “Fight or Flight mode”, the response of the body during a test, job interview or car accident. Obviously, this is not the time that your body is ready to eat a meal and digest food.
- Practice mindful eating: Eat slowly and take time to chew. Sit and relax while eating, rather than eating on the run. Say grace before meals or employ a minute of slow abdominal breathing or other mindfulness practice to prepare the body to take in and digest your food. To learn more about mindful eating click here
- Take digestive bitters or apple cider vinegar before meals to stimulate digestion.
- When the bitter taste hits receptors on your tongue, it sends messages to the brain telling your body it is time to eat. As a response, the brain relays messages to your stomach, pancreas and gallbladder to release digestive enzymes and bile to prepare for the breaking down of your food. The result is less acid reflux, indigestion and bloating.
- I like “Digestive Bitters” by Urban Moonshine – take 1-2 droppers 15 minutes before meals. Or you can try Raw Apple cider Vinegar 1-2 tsp in 4-6 oz of water, 10-15 minutes before meals. I recommend the Bragg’s brand.
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.