There are MANY ways to address digestive health, which is why we use tests for food sensitivities and various functional stool tests that can give us tons of information. These are best used when we are stuck, or for people who like to see data on paper (they are the ones who need to see it to believe it - that's ok!). However, there are a number of strategies that can help to improve gut function right away without all the fanciness. Simpler is often better :)
Steps to Better Digestion
- Get excited
- the first step of digestion is anticipation -> thinking about and smelling food releases saliva and digestive juices in preparation for the food that is about to come in, so you are ready to break it down
- Get ready to eat
- sitting down instead of eating at the counter or in the car on-the-go activates the parasympathetic nervous system, the one we need in order to break down foods efficiently
- Breathe & Chill Out
- another way to get into the parasympathetic nervous system is to take a few deep breaths and relax before eating (and after too)
- if you are tense or focused on something else your sympathetic nervous system will be active, which sends more attention to the brain and muscles and less to the gut -> did you know that stress can play a large role in the development of gall bladder issues?
- walking after eating is helpful too
- it sounds like a no brainer, but most of us chew the least amount possible to get the food down our throats ;)
- chewing introduces the food to the first of the digestive enzymes, physically breaks everything down into smaller pieces, and can also improve the enjoyment and experience of eating - you may even eat a little less
- our bodies love routine so that we know what to expect and when
- eating at roughly the same times every day contributes to that anticipation effect mentioned above
- Time Your Water
- starting the day with a glass of lemon water can be beneficial, but try not to have large drinks with meals because it can dilute the digestive juices
- Time Your Meals
- generally it's best to have 3 meals instead of grazing or snacking all day in order to break down food most effectively
- have a cut-off time at least 2 hours before bed so that you aren't going to sleep with a full stomach
Of course there are wonderful herbs, enzymes, HCL supplements, probiotics and other specific treatments depending on your symptoms. I'll leave that discussion for another day, but you can always come see me if you need personalized support. For now, give some of these things a try and see if it helps! Sometimes simple but consistent tweaks can make all the difference.
I hope you are enjoying the summer so far!
See you soon,