Digestion is soooooo important to your body’s overall health and well-being.
Did I add enough “o”s there to make my point? One more? OK: it’s sooooooo important.
I mean, it’s how we get all of our nutrients! Even if we are eating the most nutrient-dense foods possible, if we’re not breaking them down adequately enough to actually get to the nutrients they contain… what’s the point?
Plus, impaired digestion can cause a host of issues including decreased immune function, leaky gut, dysbiosis, and autoimmune response.
Luckily, there are 3 simple ways to improve your digestion ASAP.
You can employ them at your next meal… even if the kitchen timer is going off right now.
1. Take a deep breath and relax.
Digestion is a parasympathetic process. What the heck does that mean? Well, it basically means that your body needs to be relaxed in order for the digestive processes to run smoothly. Because when your body is stressed or in sympathetic mode (think: fight or flight), the body prioritizes the stress functions over the digestive functions.
A simple way to enter the parasympathetic mode is to sit on the floor. Now of course, this is not always possible (just imagine what the people at the neighboring table out at a restaurant would think), so a deep relaxing breath or saying “grace” can also help you switch from sympathetic to parasympathetic mode.
2. Hold your horses and actually chew your food.
If you don’t take the time to properly chew your food…
- Your brain will not get the message that you are in fact eating right now (sounds silly, but it’s true) and so will not trigger the other digestive processes down the line, like the secretion of gastric juices. Then when the food gets to the stomach, the stomach will say “why didn’t anyone warm me!?” and have to play catch up.
- Food will not be mechanically broken down enough, placing a burden on the stomach.
- Food will not be adequately coated in saliva, which is essential for carbohydrate digestion.
Aim to chew each mouthful 20-30 times. If you find yourself speed-eating, try setting your utensils down after each bite and do not pick them up again until after you have swallowed.
3. Don’t drink anything while eating.
Drinking while eating dilutes the gastric juices, stalling digestion.
Of course, if you need to take supplements or medication with food, by all means drink! But try to limit it to a few sips.