Good digestion is one of four pillars of good health, along with absorption, assimilation and elimination.
Here are 12 tips for creating good digestion:
Create a Fire in the Belly
Avoid iced and cold drinks before meals. Carminatives, such as ginger, fennel, cardamom, and cinnamon can be used as a tea before meals or with food to warm the digestion
Get into “Feed and Breed” Mode
Do not eat while you are stressed, angry, fearful or sad. Digestion, like elimination and sexual functions, gets turned off when we’re in fight/flight/freeze mode. This affects mood, transit time, and immunity.
Make Time for Meals
Eating on the go, while driving, or in front of the TV or computer works against good digestion. Give thanks for the food. Chew slowly and thoroughly and keep talking to a minimum. This gives the brain and lungs a rest and allows for more effective digestion.
Drink Clean Water, Preferably Warm or Room Temperature
Use a good filter; chloride and fluoride can hamper digestion and absorption. If you don’t like plain water, add a little apple cider vinegar, lemon or lime juice.
When we don’t rest, it’s hard to digest. Not getting enough sleep can make us feel we need to eat more. But when we don’t rest well, we need to eat less and make each bite count.
Wear Proper Clothing
Keep the midriff covered to prevent heat loss from the organs of digestion, absorption and elimination. Overly constrictive clothing hampers the body’s ability to digest food.
Bitter Up and Get Those Juices Flowing!
Your “acid indigestion” could actually mean you’re producing too little hydrochloric acid—not too much. Promote digestive juices by taking bitters with meals (something as simple as a cup of chamomile tea 20 minutes before a meal), incorporating bitter greens (dandelion leaf, arugula, radicchio, chard, loose-leaf lettuce or Romaine) into the diet, taking apple cider vinegar, using lacto-fermented foods as condiments, or taking digestive enzymes, such as Betaine, with meals.
Feed the Friendlies
Humans are mostly nonhuman—including the 3 to 6 pounds of bacteria that do the work of digestion/absorption/assimilation. Use prebiotics, such as sunchokes, globe artichoke, onions, leeks, garlic, bananas and asparagus to feed the friendlies in the colon and use probiotic-nourishing foods, such as homemade sauerkraut and kimchi. If possible, avoid antibiotics, which not only wipe out large populations of friendlies, but also decrease their diversity.
Make Time for Poo
Although this may be a throwback to childhood, it can help with elimination. It’s also helpful to recreate the pre-flush-toilet squat, which is most beneficial for bowel health. You can do this with a HealthStep—or by using an oblong trash pail placed on its wide side in front of the toilet and then adjust that, so your feet are resting on it and you’re in a semi-squat position.
Our grandparents may have called them “constitutionals,” but that was just a fancy way of saying, “Move!” Walking helps move the blood, which helps overall digestion. Sometimes it’s nice to take a post-prandial stroll.
Use Discretion with NSAIDs
Nonsteroidal antiinflammatories can disrupt gastric processes and make the stomach’s mucosal defense vulnerable.
Eat Whole Foods, Properly Prepared
Look to your genetic heritage. What did your ancestors eat? How did they prepare those foods? Cooking’s not always convenient, but cooking for yourself puts you in the captain’s chair when it comes to safeguarding your health.
Take baby steps!
Bite off only as much as you can chew. If these steps seem too difficult and you need help implementing these or have any questions, call me, Leigh Glenn, herbalist and herbal educator, at 410/757.4070 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note these tips are for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing here is intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure digestive issues. All people are different, and their unique health issues should be addressed by qualified health practitioners.
© 2013 Leigh Glenn