If you have ever suffered poor digestion, then my hope is that these digestion tips I have for you can change that for good. I know what it’s like to suffer from bouts of less than stellar digestion. Everything from a nervous stomach to food sensitivities, anxiety, and IBS can take your poor tummy on a 24/7 roller coaster ride that never seems to end. If you’ve ever suffered from bad digestion, let me share some digestion tips with you I learned three years ago that made the biggest difference in my overall digestion, mood, and my body’s regularity. As women, we should be able to share these things with each other when some of us are suffering. Knowledge is powerful, girls, so read up on these digestion tips and kick those tummy troubles to the curb!
1. Food Combining
One of the most profound and effective digestion tips I’ve ever learned and implemented was proper food combining. I realize some people do not believe in this, but I am a living testament that it not only works, but can change everything in the digestion game. I think food combining best works for those of us who have ever had chronic digestion issues and may not necessarily work for everyone, so I don’t believe it is a do or die issue. I do believe that in times of weak digestion, it is a very smart tool for taking measures to improve digestion issues when needed. I find it works well for me if I’m stressed or anxious, physically ill or suffering from a digestive woe like gas, bloating or constipation. Food combining means that you eat foods in combinations that optimize digestion, determined by how long they take to digest once in the stomach. This ensures less pain, less bloating, enhanced regularity, enhanced nutrient absorption, and prevents constipation and painful gas. The categories for food combining are fruits, leafy greens and green veggies, proteins, starches and fats. You can eat green veggies and leafy greens with anything. They're your freebie food here so eat as many as you want, anytime. Fruit should be eaten alone, or can be eaten with leafy greens and green veggies. Fruits are the quickest thing to digest of all other foods. You can also have leafy greens or veggies with protein, leafy greens or veggies with a starch or leafy greens and green veggies with a fat. The simplicity is that all you have to do is remember never to eat a starch, protein and fruit at the same time. The exception would be smoothies, which doesn't apply to food combining since everything is already broken down in the blender, making it easy to digest. Other than that, don’t over-complicate it. The point here is that fruits, protein, starches and fats all break down and eliminate themselves from the body at different rates. When you eat more than one of each of these foods, it takes a great deal longer to sit in your stomach than if you only ate one of these. This can lead to food sitting in the gut and fermenting, which creates gas, bloating, constipation, and/or diarrhea. Try it and see if it helps you any and then go from there. You may not need it forever, but it can be a real lifesaver when you do!
2. Implement Peppermint
I adore peppermint tea, essential peppermint oil (food grade), and fresh mint leaves. Why so? They heavily enhance digestion, improve bloating, aid in elimination and will knock a tummy trouble out fast. I drink peppermint tea with my meals and like to throw fresh mint or a drop of peppermint oil in my smoothies, especially chocolate smoothies! Peppermint contains special substances that break down food and soothe the lining of the stomach to prevent gas, bloating and constipation. Peppermint also eases tension and anxiety, which not only helps with stress, but also means that your digestive system improves due to a reduction in stress. I also love drinking hot peppermint tea anytime I get a nervous stomach because peppermint tea is very calming and enhances energy in the stomach, preventing irregularity from nervous tension.
3. Learn to Love Lemons
Lemons are a powerhouse for good digestion, girls! For starters, lemons' natural acids actually alkalize your stomach once ingested and aid in digestion, absorption of nutrients and elimination. They also help to alkalize acids in the stomach from foods and beverages we eat. Lemons are a great source of antioxidants and Vitamin C as well. Squeeze lemon juice over salads for a lovely zing and eliminate the need for dressing. I also love using fresh lemon juice in smoothies, hot tea such as peppermint tea, and even plain water! It also makes a great zest for steamed veggies or fish.
4. Take Probiotics, or More of Them
If you already take probiotics, first make sure you’re taking a quality kind. The only one that has ever made a dramatic improvement for me is Garden of Life’s Raw Probiotic for women. They were the most potent and effective of the ridiculously long list of probiotics I tried. You can find them for a good price at iHerb. Probiotics help to digest food, prevent gas and bloating, prevent bad bacteria from developing in the stomach and also aid in preventing constipation and diarrhea. Find a brand that works for you and consider taking more than one kind if you have severe issues, so you can get in multiple strains. I also advise eating plain, unsweetened yogurt once or twice daily if you tolerate dairy, and also implementing plain kefir into the diet. Both are rich in probiotics that also fight yeast and harmful bacteria in the body, along with aiding in digestion issues. If you are sensitive to dairy, read the next tip for special enzymes you can take to help digest foods like yogurt.
5. Take Digestive Enzymes
Digestive enzymes, along with probiotics, should be implemented most of the time if you have digestion issues. Digestive enzymes help break down food in the body, and even if you’re combining your food well, you could still benefit from a digestive enzyme. I find that most of my food sensitivities are null and void when I take enzymes with each meal. Some foods are harder than others for the body to break down and enzymes simply assist with that. They really knock out gas and bloating quickly as well. I like Rainbow Light Advanced Enzymes since they are vegan and gluten-free. You can find them at iHerb.
6. Practice Yoga or Meditation
Believe it or not, digestion doesn’t just come down to what we eat and drink. Digestion has a lot to do with our mind and mood. When you are relaxed, so is your gut, but when you are tense, guess what? Your stomach is the first thing to let you know! My digestion practically stops when I’m nervous or upset. Most of your nerves associated with mood and serotonin production are actually located in your gut, so anytime you’re upset, your stomach is affected. In return, anytime you eat something that doesn’t agree with you, or your stomach is in disarray, your mood will suffer. The two are intricately related. To take care of your mind and soothing anxiety, implement yoga or meditation. I like to do 20 minutes of yoga each morning; it really helps relax me and is also great exercise. Simultaneously, my digestion is on-point the entire rest of the day if I follow the rest of these tips. Meditation at night can be as simple as lying still in your bedroom for as little as 15 minutes or longer, simply breathing and resting or reading and writing. Your gut will thank you over and over again for these moments of calm in your day; trust me!
7. Don’t Eat when You Are Stressed
I never recommend eating when you’re stressed just for the sake of eating. I find that when I do, nothing goes down well- not even plain veggies! When you’re stressed, your nerves in your stomach are all over the place, so to speak, and your body can’t efficiently break down food. Stress hormones like cortisol are being pumped through your bloodstream at alarmingly fast levels, and no healthy food on Earth would digest well when you’re stressed. Be sure to get to a place where you can sit down for at least 10-15 minutes and don’t eat when you’re stressed. Take a few deep breaths, a few sips of water, and eat with a calm stomach. Everything will be better once you do.
Other tips for good digestion include chewing your food properly and implementing digestive friendly spices like ginger, cinnamon and cardamom, which all aid in digestion as well. Not all of these may work for you alone, but when combined, I can tell you they completely changed my world in terms of digestion. The important thing is to listen to your body. Anytime you have a digestion issue, pay attention to what you ate right beforehand and keep a food diary to diagnose troubling foods or possibly eating during times of stress. This can help you learn what to do to prevent it from happening again. Do you have any tips for good digestion to share?