Digestion and gut health can be complicated, but there are a few simple steps you can take to improve your digestion right now… even if dinner’s almost ready!
Proper digestion is soooo important to your body’s overall health and wellbeing.
Did I add enough “o”s there to make my point?
OK: it’s sooooo 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?
Just as important: digestive health and function impacts just about every other aspect of health.
More and more science is emerging linking gut health to immune function, mental health, inflammation and inflammatory conditions, autoimmune disease, and so much more. Even the health and appearance of the skin is impacted by the gut!
Luckily, there are some really simple ways to boost digestion and improve gut health.
You can start using them during your next meal… even if the kitchen timer is going off right now.
Don’t discount these tips because of how simple they may seem!
I’ve worked with countless clients who have been able to improve — if not completely remedy! — their digestive symtoms with these tips alone.
3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Digestion ASAP
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.
So is it any wonder that stress impedes digestion!?
According to Harvard Medical School:
The relationship between environmental or psychological stress and gastrointestinal distress is complex and bidirectional: stress can trigger and worsen gastrointestinal pain and other symptoms, and vice versa.
A simple way to quickly destress and push your body into 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 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. Drink as little as possible 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.
Similarly, I recommend keeping a 15-minute buffer around you meals. That is, avoid drinking too much within the 15 minutes before and 15 minutes after you drink to, again, avoid diluting those critical gastric juices!