ENHANCING DIGESTION by Kristin Dahl
Digestion is quite possibly one of the most important factors of health. About 70% of our immune system lies in the digestive tract, and, as a result, maintaining digestive health is the key to keeping you healthy all winter long. Healthy digestion also means a healthy metabolism, weight regulation, and proper assimilation of nutrients.
This time of year, our digestion is generally overburdened in some way. This happens from too much food, too many sweets, and lots of overindulging. It’s all fun & festivities, until you start feeling run down and you feel illness coming on.
Here are a few key elements to keep your digestion flowing & your body glowing. Create sustainable patterns now, to support the way you look & feel all year long.
::: Drink plenty of water (but not with meals). At least 30 minutes before or after is best. This ensures that your digestive fluids can do their job. Aim for half your body weight in ounces per day for proper hydration. If you choose to drink alcohol, stick to organic wine or champagne, and make sure to increase your water intake that day.
::: Load up on probiotic rich foods like kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, organic miso, tempeh, and coconut yogurt & kefir. This will establish a healthy environment for your gut-flora, directly affecting your immune system.
::: Add lemon or apple cider vinegar to your water or meals to increase digestive stomach acids. Begin your day with warm water & half a lemon to elevate stomach acid and stimulate gastric juices. Digestive bitters work in a similar way, take ¼ tsp before meals.
::: Try to eat fruit on an empty stomach not with or directly after a meal as it ferments in the stomach & can disrupt the digestive process.
::: Have a cup of Chamomile tea at night, it soothes and relaxes the bowel wall and aids constipation. Peppermint tea & Fennel Tea help to relieve gas.
::: Soak your grains, nuts and seeds for optimal digestion. Soaking them removes the nutritional inhibitors & phytic acid that the body struggles to break down.
::: Stay present at mealtime, eat slowly & mindfully, and try to avoid unconscious eating. Eat slowly in a relaxed environment & chew your food . Remember that digestion begins in the mouth! Taking deep breaths before, during, and after meals & putting your fork down every few bites helps to keep you present.
::: Supplement, when necessary, with digestive enzymes to replenish your natural reserves. This is helpful when consuming a heavy holiday meal or animal products. This enhances stomach enzymes and relieves gas, bloating & discomfort. If your system is feeling overburdened, try a 1-day cleanse to give your digestive system a break.
::: Cut back on gluten containing foods. The gut has a hard time breaking down the protein found in gluten. This can cause gas, inflammation, bloating & constipation. There are so many tasty alternatives out there like quinoa, brown rice, or amaranth!
::: Aim to eat 2-3 hours before bedtime. Stay in alignment with the natural rhythm of your body. Late evening is for resting & digesting.