During this fast paced day and age, one is always eating on the run and scoffing down food. This leads to improper digestion, decrease in absorption of nutrients, and health concerns such as constipation, bloating, headaches, acne, malnutrition and the list goes on. The following are tips to help you improve digestion.
Ways to improve digestion
- Chew your food – The primary reason for chewing is to break food into smaller pieces and allow salivary amylase, a digestive enzyme found in saliva, to further make food digestible.
- Chewing also signals the pancreas to begin producing its digestive enzymes, such as amylase and lipase, and the stomach to make hydrochloric acid, pepsin, and gastric amylase, which further breakdown food. After an hour or so, a semifluid mass of partially digested food is pushed into the first portion of the small intestine. The stomach then releases secretin into the small intestine, due to the acidity, which then triggers the pancreas to release bile, pancreatic enzymes, as well as bicarbonate which alkalizes the partially digested food. Now the food passes through the intestines
- Drink less during meals – drinking fluids during and within 1 hour of meals can dilute your stomach acids. For those fasting, either drink a cup of warm water when opening fast and then read prayer or take little sips during you meal or wait an hour after you eat to drink water.
- Pause between bits and free yourself from mealtime distractions – This goes for everyone – FOCUS ON YOUR MEAL. TASTE ALL THE FLAVORS IN EACH BITE. Try not to eat when you are upset or in a bad mood. Your brain and digestive tract are interconnected so feelings impact the effectiveness of digestion.
- Choose foods that nourish and avoid those that don’t – choose foods which help the digestive tract like bone broth and have probiotics like sauerkraut and kimchi. Incorporate digestive enzymes, such as pineapple or papaya, to help breakdown food. Avoid foods such as dairy, gluten, soy, refined sugars and carbs, fried foods, and anything artificial as these wreak havoc on the digestive system and cause inflammation.
- Slow down! – eating slower gives your stomach more time to break down your food. Take 20-30mins to eat your food thoroughly. Chew and taste your food. And stop before you are full.
- Bitters – Bitters are important in digestive health as they increase gastric acid production, bile secretion and excretion. They also increase intestinal and pancreatic enzymes. In America, we tend to favor the sweet flavor versus the bitter flavor. However, if we incorporate more bitters into our diet, our digestive health will improve. Foods such as broccoli rabe, bitter melon, sesame, dandelion greens and Jerusalem artichoke are great to add into one’s diet.
- Supplement- add probiotics (at least 30billion CFU), digestive enzymes, and Swedish Bitters to your diet and see improvements in your digestive health.
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