On my most recent Facebook Live, I shared how to improve digestion naturally with my top five tips. Because if we aren’t digesting our foods properly then it is not being absorbed and all the kale in the world won’t matter. If you prefer video, watch my Facebook Live video or read the blog post which covers everything I went over. Cheers to optimal digestion!
Five tips to help with digestion (naturally!)
Posted by Holistic Foodie on Monday, August 14, 2017
There are four main parts in regards to digestion:
- Digestion: the actual breakdown of food into its components
- Absorption: transferring food components into the bloodstream
- Assimilation: the actual nutrients getting into our cells
- Elimination: the removal of metabolic waste and by products from the body
Digestion takes up a lot of energy by the body and there are many reasons why digestion can go wrong. When we feed our body properly (with nourishing foods that our body recognizes) and needs to thrive, we are helping our digestion as well. When we feed it lots of junk and it has a hard time recognizing the food as food, things can begin to go wrong.
Here is how to improve digestion naturally:
- Chew your food: So often people don’t take the time to chew their food. Digestion actually begins in your mouth. You have salivary enzymes that work to break down the food as it enters your mouth. This saliva mixed with the food helps to break down carbohydrates. It is ESSENTIAL to chew your food thoroughly before swallowing. This super simple tip can actually solve a lot of your digestion problems.
- Eat probiotic rich foods: By including foods that are high in probiotics (aka- good bacteria) you can help to balance out the ratio of good to bad bacteria in the gut. This is important as they are essential for nutrient absorption. What are probiotics? They are live microorganisms that have tons of health benefits when consumed. We are made up of trillions of bacteria (some good, some bad), but when the bad bacteria overtake the good, this is when problems can occur, especially with our digestion. So by incorporating probiotic rich foods, we can help our digestion immensely.
My top probiotic rich foods include:
Yogurt or kefir: choose yogurt that is organic and contains LIVE cultures. Many times with yogurt, the live bacteria (probiotics) have been destroyed during processing. With kefir, it is a unique combination of milk and fermented kefir grains. Kefir has been consumed for well over 3,000 years. Kefir is similar to yogurt, but because it is fermented with yeast and more bacteria, the final product is higher in probiotics. So you actually consume less of it daily than you would yogurt. You can find these in health food stores and well stocked grocery stores. I like a local Toronto brand coconut kefir I found in Toronto at Ambrosia. If you don’t tolerate cow’s milk at all, try sheep/goat or go dairy free with my homemade coconut yogurt.
Cultured veg: Sauerkraut and kimchi are both great options, as they are fermented vegetables. With so many flavours available now, you can find one that you like. Sauerkraut helps to support the growth of good bacteria. They both contain enzymes as well which help with digestion.
Raw Apple Cider Vinegar: You down with ACV? Yeah you know me. Use this in a salad dressing or dilute it with water and drink it. This is great for controlling blood pressure and for weight loss as well. But for digestion, it is beneficial as it contains the good bacteria we need. Get RAW, ACV with the mother. I use Braggs.
Miso: It is created by fermenting soybean, barley or brown rice. I love making miso soup in the winter time and it is actually quite easy to make yourself. You can find miso in any well stocked grocery store or asian market. Buy organic.
Kombucha: This is a nutritionist’s version of pop. It is actually a fermented green or black tea. You can brew your own, or look to well stocked grocery stores. I recently found two brands at Costco that are a great deal!
- Avoid eating when stressed/upset or rushed: Digestion takes up a lot of energy already, if we eat when we are stressed out, this will impede our ability to digest. Your body can not digest and deal with stress at the same time, so what happens? Your digestion can essentially shut down. This can lead to constipation, bloating stomach pain, gas and thus weight gain. Or it can cause the opposite effect, when food moves too quickly and won’t be absorbed. It can also cause your metabolism to slow down, which is what we DON’T want to happen. So slow down, take some time to enjoy your meal, chew your food and relax. Try to eat in quiet, step away from your desk at work and just slow down for 20 minutes.
- Fibre is your friend: Are you eating enough fibre rich foods? If not, you may have a problem with your digestion as you won’t be eliminating as you should. If you aren’t eliminating regularly, your body can become overburdened, toxins can accumulate and disease can begin. What is regular? The average amount you should be going is 1-2 times a day. It is ideal to have a poop that is all connected in one long, smooth “S” shape. When you eat enough fibre rich foods and drink enough water, digestion should be vastly improved. Top sources of fibre rich foods include: veggies, fruits, whole grains (quinoa, rice) wheat (if tolerated like spelt) and nuts and seeds like chia, flax and psyllium, beans and legumes (lentils, chickpeas, etc). Aim for 25-40 grams of fibre daily.
- Supplement as needed with digestive enzymes: This is one supplement that I take with me everywhere I go. If I am eating out or on vacation especially, I take a digestive enzyme. Enzymes help to break down foods and digest them. There are three main enzyme types: protease- digests protein, amylase- digests carbs, lipase- digests fats. If you are having a heavier meal, it is a good idea to take a digestive enzyme to help you digest it better. Look for a broad spectrum enzyme. Take it with food and never on an empty stomach.
So let’s review how to improve digestion naturally with my five simple tips: chew your food thoroughly, eat probiotic rich foods, avoid eating if you are stressed/angry/upset or rushed, include fibre and supplement as needed with digestive enzymes.
Six Week: Ditch The Diet Program!
All of this info and so much more is discussed in detail in my six week “Ditch the Diet” program which is all about ditching the diet label and embracing a new lifestyle. I work with you one-on-one to uncover the root cause of so many issues and delve deeper into uncovering how you can move past such blocks and feel and look amazing. Digestion is a key topic that I address with you and once you have that part nailed down, we move on to five other important topics. Each module is based on the previous one and is designed to teach you the basics you need so that you make better choices everyday. No more counting calories, weighing your food, counting your macros or inputting everything into an app. Instead we rely on your own intuition, my guidance, meal plan and weekly coaching to get you the results you want.
Thank you so much for reading, I sincerely hope this info was invaluable for you and if you are ready to take that next step, have a look at my Ditch The Diet 6 Week Program.
Let me know, what tips you found most useful or if you have any other tips to add?