Digestive complaints can range from bloating, reflux, stomach aches to diarrhoea and constipation and figuring out what is driving them is key to resolving your complaints. Whilst there are many potential drivers behind these complaints it is important to make sure you have the basics sorted first. Below I share my top tips to naturally support your digestive process, boosting your bodies own ability to digest and absorb the foods you eat.
#1 Mindful Eating
We're all guilty of eating on the run and sneaking in a quick bite because we're so busy, but the way we approach eating can have a large impact on our digestive function. The part of our nervous system that controls our bodily functions has two basic settings 'fight and flight' or 'rest and digest', when we are stressed, multitasking or even watching TV while we eat our body place all it's energy on these tasks and isn't primed to do the job of digesting the food you're consuming this can contribute to indigestion, bloating and constipation. Using basic mindful eating techniques helps put your brain into gear to rest and digest all your food - keeping you and your gut happy
What to do: take time to appreciate the look, colours, and smell of your meal before eating this helps to stimulate digestive secretions preparing your body to break down your food. Taking time to eat slowly and appreciate all the textures and flavours can also help us better recognise when we are full, limiting overeating as well as adding some calmness into our day
#2 Chew your food
Chew your food properly, sounds simple right but I'm sure many of us are guilty of eating too quickly. How does it help: the more we chew our food the more saliva we produce which contains enzymes that break down our food. It also boosts our stomach acid that continues the breakdown process in our gut. When we chew our food into smaller pieces it also helps it digest and absorb better.
What to do: chew each mouthful of food 30 times before swallowing, do this consciously for the next week and notice the difference
#3 Eat bitter foods
Bitter foods are a digestive kick starter and it's one of the flavours we are often missing in our diets. Eating bitter foods activates your taste buds and stimulates digestive enzymes and bile flow. Bile is important to help us digest fats and absorb all your good fat soluble vitamins - think Vitamins A, E, D and K
What to do: Add bitter foods to your diet think bitter greens - dandelion or mustard greens, rocket, kale, nettles, chard, watercress, and radicchio. You can boost your bitters by making a small side salad consisting of bitter greens and consume before meals or you can try my favorite bitter drink (it's also a great replacement for coffee) - Dandelion root tea.
#4 Drink a digestive kickstarting tonic
Just like bitter foods drinking certain things before meals can kickstart your digestive system. Two of my favourites are warm lemon water and apple cider vinegar. How they work is that they help to stimulate your digestive enzyme secretion and increase your stomach acidity preparing your body to digest your meals and support nutrient absorption.
What to do: add the juice of half a lemon to a small glass of warm water and drink 15 minutes before meals. Or try adding 1-2 teaspoons of organic apple cider vinegar to a small amount of water and drink 15 minutes before meals.
If you suffer from digestive complaints and want to find out how naturopathy can assist you in identifying and overcoming the drivers behind this you can book a complimentary 10-minute phone chat with me here