Good health - It’s all about digestion. It really is! We take in food, chew and swallow it…but then what happens? How well we digest and absorb and assimilate the nutrients from the food we ingest is the true critical factor regarding our health.
One of the most frequent complaints of people is that they aren’t digesting their food well. They feel bloated or gassy or just uncomfortable after eating.
Here are some tips you might try to enhance your digestion:
- The primary, number one reason for an inability to digest properly is stress. In a “fight or flight” situation, we are not going to be producing digestive juices; we are going to be getting ready to fight a “tiger”. Digestion shuts down during times of stress. I often advise clients to calm themselves and practice “conscious eating” if they can. This means they need to sit down and pay attention to the food they are eating. Eating on the run, in the car while driving to work, or while multi-tasking is not going to encourage the digestive juices to flow.
- Chewing foods well is critical. The act of chewing food initiates the flow of digestive enzymes. Chewing also breaks the food into tiny particles, which is the form it should be in before it is swallowed.
- It is better to drink liquids before or after a meal. At the very least, avoid carbonated beverages during a meal because the carbonation nullifies our stomach acid. This includes sparkling water.
- Try to practice a form of food combining within the context of one meal. We should eat the protein portion of the meal first because the bottom of the stomach is where protein digestion lies. This is then followed by the non-starchy vegetables in the meal. Last is eaten the higher carbohydrates or fruit. This advice has helped some people in digesting their food better.
- Never use hydrogenated fats (margarines), polyunsaturated fats or fats that have been heated to a high temperature. If you are going to use fats in cooking, choose the more saturated or monounsaturated fats which are more heat stable. (Butter, ghee, coconut oil, olive oil). Heat the pan first, before adding the fat or oil and have everything ready to add to the pan. (Minimize the amount of time the food stays in the heated pan). Stir frying, boiling, steaming, baking are good methods of cooking. Frying and long time sautéing are not so good, and create foods that are tougher on the digestion.
- For people whose digestion is really compromised, I suggest that they supplement with a broad spectrum digestive enzyme for a period of time. Helps to break down foods more efficiently before cooking. Drain off the soaking water and cook them in fresh water. Soaking gets rid of phytates and the lemon or yogurt will “pre-digest” the grains or legumes so that they cook even faster and are easier on the digestive system.
- Add fermented foods such as live yogurt, kefir, natural miso, natural sauerkraut to the diet, to increase the level of natural lactic acid in the gut. Leafy greens also have a good amount of the beneficial bacteria on them.
- Try to get sugar out of your diet. It feeds yeast in the intestines and upsets the balance of healthy intestinal flora. It also feeds pathogenic bacteria. Sugar also creates a poor pH balance in the digestive system.
- Try to discourage the indiscriminate use of antacids. These nullify stomach acid which needs to be present for the protein digesting enzyme to be made. Stomach acid also sterilizes our food from bacteria and other pathogens from the outside world.
- Soak nuts and seeds, drain them and then bake them in a very low oven to “dehydrate” them. This gets rid of the phytates on the nuts and seeds. As with grains, phytates on nuts and seeds are enzyme inhibitors and can hinder digestion.
- Sprouted grains, nuts and seeds can also be easier to digest.