You may not know that the health of your digestive system has a lot to do with your stress levels throughout your day, the exercise you get, your lifestyle choices, the water you drink and the food you eat (or don’t eat) and how well it functions. By taking steps to improve your digestive health, your digestive system will work more efficiently and effectively, and therefore improve your overall health. Many people assume that digestive troubles are normal, but it’s not.
Here are 8 simple tips to avoid digestive issues like heartburn, indigestion, constipation or diarrhoea, IBS, gas, pain and bloating;
01. Chew Slowly
Good digestion starts in the mouth. Chewing is often underestimated but it’s an essential one, the more you break down the food in your mouth, the less work for your digestive system later on. Makes sense right!?
02. Eat Bitter Foods to Aid Digestion
By eating bitter foods such as lemon or grapefruit, kale, turmeric, parsley, coriander, rocket, dandelion greens or bitter lettuce 15 minutes before your meals, the bitter taste stimulates the secretion of digestive juices and enzymes to aid in proper digestion. Try a small salad made from kale, rocket, parsley and coriander and drizzle with lemon juice and a cold-pressed oil and eat this 15 minutes before lunch and/or dinner. A lot of cultures around the world do some variation of this.
03. Eat Herbs to Aid Digestion
Coriander (fresh, powder or seeds) – supports digestion, combats allergies and reduces bloating. It's a great addition to omelettes, soups, stews, curry’s, marinade mixes, sauces and more.
Cumin (powder or seeds)– stimulates digestive enzymes which is beneficial for improving nutrient absorption. Sprinkle over meats, add the seeds to fermented veggies, soups, stews, curry’s, scrambled eggs and more.
Fennel seeds – In India, fennel seeds are often chewed after meals to support digestion. This herb has been traditionally used to stimulate digestive juices, reduce indigestion, prevent gas, and address constipation.
Ginger (fresh or powder) – improves digestive, stimulates and helps in the absorption of nutrients and minerals, aids in expelling gas and toxins from the body and is also anti-inflammatory. Steep freshly chopped ginger in hot water for a few minutes to make a delicious tea, add to juices, smoothies, bliss balls, slices, curry’s and more.
Peppermint – calms the digestive system as it has a soothing effect, relieves gas pain, bloating and discomfort. Drink as a tea.
Parsley – helps to settle the stomach and also aids in digestion.
04. Remove Food & Body Stressors
In order to restore your gut flora and improve digestive health then removing toxins, food stressors and probiotic killers must be addressed. Unfortunately we are exposed to many of these on a daily basis, whether it's in the food and water we consume, the stress in our lives or the pollution and fumes we breathe in. It's best to avoid consuming processed foods that are rich in refined vegetables oils, sugar, wheat and salt, conventional meat and dairy that contain antibiotic and hormone residues, chlorinated tap water and antibiotics (only use when absolutely necessary). These harm and kill off the beneficial bacteria in your system which over time will damage your digestive tract and become a breeding ground for pathogenic bacteria, yeast, parasites, viruses and fungi. The only way to address this is to eliminate these and start consuming probiotic rich foods to replenish the gut flora, consume clean, fresh, seasonal, whole and toxic free foods such as; grass-fed and organic meats, seafood, eggs, nuts and seeds, coconuts, fruit and veggies and quality fats from nature.
05. Eat Cultured Foods to Foster Beneficial Bacteria
Cultured foods are a universal staple in traditional diets, whether its fermented soy beans, sauerkraut, sourdough breads, kim-chi and other fermented vegetables, cultured cheeses, kefir, beet kvass, yoghurt and so on. Unfortunately this is a tradition that’s missing from Western society. These cultured foods are not only teeming with beneficial pre and probiotics that aid in repopulating the good bacteria in our guts and reducing the harmful bacteria that can cause indigestion; they also decrease inflammation, aid hormone balance and digestion, increase immunity, fight bacterial infections and viruses, aid in natural detoxification, reduce cravings and increase the absorption of nutrients and minerals. Pretty amazing right!
If you want to learn more about the benefits of cultured foods + how you can improve your gut health + have access to a few easy recipes and more info then click here.
06. Eat Coconut Oil
Coconut oil also helps to destroy bad bacteria, fungi and yeast which can decrease stomach acid which causes inflammation and poor digestion. Additionally it helps the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K, calcium and magnesium and the medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil don’t have to be broken down by the pancreatic enzymes, making it incredibly easy to digest and can also improve gallbladder health.
08. Drink Apple Cider Vinegar
You can dilute 1 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar with half a cup of filtered water and drink it 15 minutes before a meal. This will help to stimulate your digestive juices that help your body breakdown food.
07. Consume Bone Broth / Gelatin / Collagen
Bone broths or stocks (lamb, fish, chicken, beef) are staples in traditional diets of every culture because they are nutrient dense, easy to digest, rich in flavour, boost immunity and promote gastrointestinal healing and reduce intestinal inflammation. Bone broth is fantastic to use as a base for soups, stews, curry’s and gravy and can even be consumed on its own as a nourishing hot drink. If you’re unable to make your own bone broth then you may want to consider adding gelatin powder into your diet. Gelatin is found in bone broth and gives it its jelly like consistency when cooled. Gelatin is incredibly easy to digest and the amino acids contained help to increase hydrochloric acid in the stomach which is essential for digestion and nutrient assimilation. If you want to reap the health benefits of gelatin then begin making some yummy gut healing snacks like jelly, panna cotta’s, berry gummies, cheesecakes. You can even add it to hot drinks like a Matcha Latte. Collagen is very similar to gelatin except it doesn't have any 'gel' properties so it can easily be added into smoothies, slices, cookies, pancakes, juices and hot foods.
If you’re experiencing digestive distress then begin to listen to your body’s signs and symptoms and use these 8 simple tips to begin replenishing your beneficial gut flora and healing your digestive system.