Solid digestion is the cornerstone of good health. You could be eating the cleanest, organic, nutrient-rich diet in the world, but if you’re not digesting well, you won’t be absorbing all the nutrients from your food. Feeling tired after meals, bloated, and gassy are all signs your digestive tract needs a tune-up. Or if you have bad bacteria overgrowth in your intestinal tract, your digestion can suffer, and inflammation results, throwing your whole system off balance. Here are some great tips to help you improve digestion fast.
Here are my top tips to improve digestion.
1. Start off the day drinking a glass of room temp water with about 1-2 tsp of apple cider vinegar. This stimulates hydrochloric acid production to help you break down food. Hot water with lemon is also a great way to start your day and stimulate digestion. You can add the apple cider vinegar to it.
2. Eat slowly, and relax during meals! A stressed body diverts energy away from digestive function, so you won’t digest well.
3. Eat probiotic and enzyme-rich foods with meals to enhance digestion. An example is 1/4 cup of raw kraut. Drink fermented beverages like kombucha, kvass and kefir if you tolerate dairy. Or try this dairy free coconut water kefir. Consider taking a probiotic to balance gut flora. I recommend TerraFlora.
4. Drink ginger tea between or after meals. Grate ginger root into a mug, then pour hot water over it and let steep for about 5 minutes.
5. Eliminate inflammatory foods from your diet. Main culprits are gluten, pasteurized dairy, soy, corn, and conventionally raised (not pastured, grass fed) meat. These foods contribute to the intestinal inflammation that can disrupt gut flora and digestion.
6. If you suffer from heartburn, eliminate gluten, dairy, corn and soy. Heartburn is exacerbated by food sensitivities, and gluten, dairy, corn and soy are the most common hidden food sensitivities. Consider eliminating all grains and possibly legumes, which have the potential to be gut irritants and are high in phytic acid that prevents absorption of nutrients. Nuts are a culprit, too. Consider stool testing to check for h pylori, a common cause of heartburn and poor digestion.I can guide you on the best test for your needs.
7. Don’t drink more than 6oz of water with meals. It dilutes your natural digestive juices.
These tips will enhance digestion, but if you suffer chronically with poor digestion (lots of burping, farting, indigestion, heartburn, undigested food in stool, constipation/diarrhea), you’ll want to uncover the underlying cause. Is it dysbiosis (bad bacteria overgrowth)? If so, what caused that? Digestive infection (parasites? or pathogens like h pylori?), too much sugar, poor diet, eating inflammatory foods? Work with a practitioner (like me) to help you get to the bottom of the problem. I can offer testing to check for unwanted bacteria and invaders in your digestive tract.
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. In addition to her coaching practice, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and kick nagging digestive issues for good. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.