Improving digestive function could very well be one of the most important steps you take in improving your health, and fortunately it can also be one of the easiest if you follow the right protocol. Here are some of the most simple ways you can make big improvements in your digestive health:
1. Drink Your Water... But Not During Meals
The digestive system needs to be well hydrated like the rest of the body, but downing glasses of water near mealtime will impair digestive strength and may cause upsets. Water is best sipped lightly during a meal. Otherwise you should get your water in at least 15-30 minutes before a meal and preferably at least an hour after.
2. Eat Clean
This one should be obvious but is included for good measure. The body wasn’t meant to digest chemical food additives, artificial sweeteners or extruded grains. Eat whole, natural foods as much as possible so your body can concentrate on assimilating the good stuff instead of eliminating the bad stuff.
3. Go Raw
It may not be necessary for every food that passes your lips to be uncooked, but including some raw foods in your diet is a great way to get natural enzymes and nutrients that might otherwise be denatured by heat. Getting at least some raw, live foods in with every meal will give your digestion a break and your body a more complete set of nutrients.
4. Get Fermented
You could think of fermented foods (like sauerkraut) as raw food on steroids. Fermentation allows probiotics, enzymes and nutrients to flourish and multiply. Fruits and vegetables that have been fermented are so potent only a few tablespoons each day will provide the body with a hefty digestive punch that can make a world of difference in gastrointestinal health. (Kefir is also a great fermented food. You can learn how to make your own kefir here.)
5. Try a Little Bitterness
Bitter herbs were commonly used in traditional cultures as a digestive aid and even to treat general ailments. Herbs like dandelion, gentian and yarrow are just a few examples of bitter herbs that are usually combined in a tincture to use directly before or after meals to stimulate bile production. Read more about bitters here.
6. Say No to Stress
Stress cuts off circulation to the digestive tract and can impair the body’s ability to utilize the food you eat. Learn to reduce or manage the stress in your life if your digestion is poor. Before meals, take a deep breath and eat slowly, eat consciously. Try not to rush meals, shovel food down your throat or grab hurried bites between errands. Mealtime should be relaxing and enjoyable. Your digestion will thank you. (Find some great posts of stress here, here and here.)
This post is a part of Pennywise Platter Thursday at The Nourishing Gourmet.