Food is the fuel that provides us with energy. The higher the quality of food you eat, the more energy you’ll have to face the challenges in your day-to-day life. When you ingest food, your digestive system breaks it down and extracts the nutrients so your body can absorb and assimilate them for energy. What happens then if you consistently eat foods that are difficult to digest and don’t supply your body with the quality nutrients it needs for energy? I’ll tell you what happens. Your digestive system becomes inefficient, resulting in a domino effect of complications:
- Your energy level goes down
- Your hormones don’t function properly
- Your immune system is compromised
As a result, your physical, mental, and emotional well-being plummet.
- You lose the spring in your step and that sparkle in your eyes
- You become less desirable to be around with your ugly mood swings
- And, you become more susceptible to getting sick
Improving your diet will make your digestive system function properly, allowing you to absorb nutrients more efficiently and providing you with more energy to thrive in your daily life. Your hormones will function as they should and put you in a better mood. You will restore the proper balance of intestinal flora (the good bacteria that kills harmful bacteria), which will help you rebuild your immunity. This is where over-the-counter drugs fail. They may make you feel better in the short run by killing harmful bacteria, but they also kill your good bacteria, rendering you more susceptible to future ailments.
Now, here’s the million-dollar question. “How do I improve digestive health?” I’m glad you asked. Allow me to show you the way. Let’s start with a list of 10 ways to improve digestive health.
For some of you, this list will seem overwhelming initially. Relax. You don’t have to change your entire lifestyle in one fair swoop to include all of these suggestions. Pick one or two to start you off on the right path. Trust me, and it’s a path you’ll want to embark on because if you stick to it, you’ll start to see and feel the results and won’t lose your newfound vitality. Depending on your age, current digestive state, and consistency with maintaining your healthy lifestyle changes, it may take a couple of weeks, months, or even a year. Whatever the case, it will be well worth it in the long run.
Many of you will be craving more knowledge right off the bat. Fear not. I will follow up this first list of 10 with a second list of 10 in the following article that will take your digestive health to the next level. In future articles, you can guarantee I’ll expand on everything you come across in these lists. You will be oozing with the knowledge that will take your physical, mental, and emotional health to a new level. That said, LET’S DO THIS…
10 Ways to improve digestive health
- WATER: When you leap out of bed in the morning, drink a glass of room-temperature water. This wakes up your digestive system and gets it ready to go to work. Do the same thing before each meal throughout the day. Everyone should have no universal set amount of water before each meal. 4-8 oz. should be about right. Like anything, please don’t overdo it. Take your water straight up rather than on the rocks before and after meals. Cold beverages tend to decrease digestive enzyme secretions. Room-temperature water helps dissolve fats and soluble fiber, allowing them to pass through you more easily. Drink filtered water instead of water from the tap. Cook with it, too. Tap water is chlorinated. Chlorine kills ALL bacteria, good and evil (like medicine). The same is true for chlorinated pools. If you can help it, swim in a saltwater pool. It makes for softer, healthier skin, too.
- LEMON/VINEGAR: Squeeze a lemon or drop vinegar on your food. It helps fight indigestion by increasing stomach acidity and improving the digestion of fats.
- FATTY FOODS: Don’t overdo it. They tend to slow down digestion, making you more susceptible to constipation. If you indulge in a fatty meal from time to time, try adding high-fiber foods to accompany these meals. It’ll help you digest them.
- EXERCISE: Regular exercise helps keep foods traveling through your digestive system, reducing constipation. Exercise also causes your pituitary gland and hypothalamus to produce endorphins, a 100% all-natural brain drug that produces a sense of wellness and happiness. Who wouldn’t want to experience this? If you’re not a fan of exercise and are allergic to gyms, opt for a 15-minute walk after meals. It’ll improve your digestion and elimination. You won’t have time for a walk after every meal. Try to do it for the biggest ones.
- RAW: Don’t overcook your food. Try to eat raw whenever you can. Cooking depletes vitamins, damages proteins and fats, and destroys enzymes that aid digestion. Here are a few examples of raw foods (I will go into more detail on many great raw food options in future articles):
- Cheese & cream
- Raw and fermented meats and fish
- Beef Tartar)
- STRESS: Relax. Our bodies are not designed to manage both stress and digestion at the same time. You’d be surprised how effectively a few moments of relaxation before a meal will improve the digestive process. Take some deep breaths or pause a minute to appreciate the food and people in front of you. Create an excellent mood. Dim lights, play music and light some candles.
- CHEW: Don’t inhale your food. Chew it thoroughly. The digestion of carbohydrates begins in the mouth. Chewing carbs thoroughly allows amylase (the digestive enzyme present in saliva) to digest those carbs. Eat at the moment. Savor every bite. Relish the flavors, textures, and smells of your meal. Seriously. And be grateful you don’t have to hunt for or plant the seed for every meal you consume. It’s a luxury our ancestors didn’t have.
- DON’T SKIP MEALS: Eating regularly throughout the day keeps your digestive system firing on all cylinders. It also keeps your metabolism up all day long and provides a steady stream of nutrients to all your body cells to keep them functioning optimally.
- VICES: Smoking, alcohol, and too much caffeine can interfere with the operation of your digestive system and can result in a whole host of problems, including stomach ulcers and heartburn.
- FIBER: Whole grains, veggies, legumes, and fruits can improve digestive health. They help keep food moving through your digestive tract, making you less likely to get constipated. But, like anything in life, don’t overdo it. High-fiber foods are very hard on your digestive tract and can damage your gut lining. So, if you eat grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes, ensure they are adequately prepared. Soak, sprout or ferment them. I’ll get into how to go about doing this in future articles. By the way. There are two types of fiber you should be getting in your diet. Insoluble and soluble fiber:
- Insoluble (wheat bran, veggies, whole grains): This fiber isn’t digested by the body. Its job is to add bulk to stools, which helps pass them through the body.
- Soluble (oat bran, nuts, seeds, legumes): This fiber sucks in water and can help prevent too watery stools. You can lose valuable nutrients that exit your body in the watery stool.