Are you one of the 70 million Americans suffering from digestive diseases, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, constipation and peptic ulcers? Unfortunately, good digestive health appears to be on the decline and what’s worse is that poor digestive health affects your overall well-being. In fact, poor digestive health means your body cannot get the nutrients it needs for strong immunity and brain health. This means you may experience more symptoms of fatigue, illness, memory issues or depression. While mainstream medicine would have us rushing off to get prescription drugs, Body Ecology has an alternative solution: healing your digestion. Recovering good digestive health is possible! There are some simple steps you can take each time you sit down for a meal that will go a long way to making you feel your best.
Body Ecology’s Step-by-Step Guide to Better Digestion
Changing your diet can feel challenging at first, so this step-by-step guide is not about changing the food you eat. For now, we recommend that you simply start where you are and change a few habits around mealtime.
1. Take your time. We’re all in a rush aren’t we? Work, kids, groceries, errands…it never seems to end. But the truth is, we have more choice about our calendars than we may think.
The simple fact is that slowing down helps you digest better because to digest well, your body needs to be in parasympathetic (also called “rest and digest”) nervous system mode. This means you have to feel rested and calm. Unfortunately, if you rush around in an over-busy life, your body tends to stay in sympathetic (also called “fight or flight”) nervous system mode. This means that your ability to digest is shut down. If you eat on the run or when you are stressed, your body is simply unable to digest. Do this too often and you begin to damage your digestive health and overall well-being.
2. Follow the principle of food combining. Food combining creates less stress on your digestive tract, giving you more energy for other things. Another benefit of food combining is that it helps your body fully digest and assimilate. Different foods use different enzymes for digestion, so when you combine your foods properly, these enzymes are more effective.
3. Chew your food thoroughly. You may have rolled your eyes as a kid, when mom asked you to chew your food well, but she was on to something many people don’t realize. Digestion begins in your mouth. In fact, improperly chewed food can set the stage for a poorly digested meal throughout your entire digestive tract. That means hours of potential abdominal pain or low energy. Chew your food as much as possible before swallowing and the rest of your digestive tract will thank you.
4. Embrace silence. Do you multi-task when you eat? Talking can be considered a form of multi-tasking while eating because it takes your attention away from your meal. Giving your food your full attention can literally change your whole experience with eating. You may find that you feel satisfied earlier and eat less, that you enjoy your food more and that you are able to focus on chewing your food thoroughly. Each of these benefits lead to better digestion.
5. Assist your body. Most of us could use a little boost to help our digestion along. Whether from the natural aging process or from poor digestive health, your body can benefit from digestive aids, such as:
• Digestive Enzymes–Stress, aging, antibiotics and other drugs, improper food combining or a diet high in processed foods, can diminish the enzymes in your stomach necessary for proper digestion. You can help boost your digestion easily by taking digestive enzymes for dairy and protein meals.
• Fermented foods and drinks, prized in just about every culture worldwide, fermented foods and drinks are our ancestor’s secrete for digestive health and immunity.
Whether you choose to add ½ cup of cultured vegetables or 2 oz. of your favorite probiotic liquid, this simple act can help your body digest the food you are eating.
6. Rest up. Getting plenty of rest is another way to help your body learn to be in parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system mode more often. Consider doing something relaxing after each meal, maybe a gentle walk, reading a book or listening to soft music. In the evening, turn the lights down low and have a delicious wind-down routine that gets you ready for a good night’s sleep. A refreshing sleep helps your body heal and energize for the next day’s activities and meals. These days, most of us tend to push sleep aside in the name of crossing things off our “to do” lists. This only adds to stress and gives you less of the precious healing time that sleep provides.
7. Detoxify. Detoxification is essential in today’s toxic world. Toxins are in everything from the air we breathe to the water we drink and the food we eat. You can reduce your exposure to toxins by choosing organic food and toxin-free personal care products. Detoxification does not have to be mysterious and yet these days, so many people are not sure what steps to take.
If you’re not yet ready to change your diet, that’s okay–you can start with these simple steps and as your energy improves, begin making some new decisions about nutrition. You deserve to feel your best and it can be challenging to feel good when you experience the pain of poor digestive health. Your body is designed to heal and there is no greater act of self-care than taking the time to nourish and support your best health.
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