5 Simple Ways to Improve Digestion Now
Congratulations on taking one of many steps towards helping your gut do its job with more ease and efficiency! Just remember that the process to improved gut health is not always an easy one, so be sure to take it easy on yourself while you incorporate these suggestions into your mealtime routine.
For anyone experiencing intense amounts of digestive distress, it can feel overwhelming to start to implement too many things all at once. While it would be ideal to do all five of these at every meal, the reality is that it just might be too much to take it all on at once.
Since feeling overwhelmed won’t help your digestion at all, feel free to pick one or two of these to start. Even just one or two of these incorporated with regularity at meal time will begin to make a difference for you and your digestion.
As your chosen few become a normal part of your mealtime routine, then add in the others as soon as you feel comfortable.
Slow Down at Meal Time
We live in a fast paced world, and more often than not, that fast pace infiltrates our meal times. We eat on the go, at our desks at work, driving down the road, and while multitasking on a regular basis. When we slow down at meal times, we give our nervous systems a chance to calm down. In turn, this gives the parasympathetic nervous system a chance to take over, allowing the body to “rest and digest”.
How do we accomplish this? We start by making it a habit to sit down in a quiet and calm area for meal times, removing as many distractions as possible given your environment. I know life can be hectic, but at the very least, be sure to sit for mealtimes, setting your phone aside.
If you want to take it to the next level, implement a breathing exercise to calm the body and slow the heart rate. I suggest using box breathing: breathe in for 4 counts, hold the breath in for 4 counts, breathe out for 4 counts, and hold your lungs empty for 4 counts. Then start the cycle over again. Do this for at least 4 rounds.
Take a few moments to feel and express gratitude for your food. Really go deep with it though.
Think of every part of the food and its journey to your plate… feel gratitude for the soil upon or in which it grew, for the hands that tended it and those that harvested it, for those who transported it to whomever prepared it, and finally for the hands that prepared it for you as well, even if those hands are your own.
Take a moment to take in the aroma of your food as well. Appreciate it and give thanks for . Not only is it pleasant to indulge your senses, but the smell of your food will begin the process of activating digestive secretions in your gut as well.
Allow this gratitude to flow through you and overtake you. When we take this time to become present with and give thanks for our food, we deepen our connection with the food that nourishes us.
If you want to take it a step further, state your intention for how this food will nourish your body, out loud or with your thoughts.
3. Don’t forget your water!
Drink a glass of water before your meal, preferably 4-8 oz 10-15 minutes before you start eating.
There is a persistent myth that drinking water before or during a meal will dilute digestive juices, thusly decreasing digestive capability. The reality is that our digestive system is much more intelligent than many give it credit for, and it adapts its secretions to the consistency of each meal.
Drinking water before and during mealtime not only aids digestion, but is essential for proper digestion. It helps to break down food so that our bodies can absorb the nutrients the food contains. Water also lubricates the entire digestive tract and helps to prevent constipation as well.
To take this suggestion up a notch, expand your water drinking requirements throughout the day.
4. Thoroughly Chew Your Food!
Of all of the suggestions on this list, this one is perhaps the most important for improved digestion!
Our digestive tract begins in our mouth, and digestion begins there as well. The act of chewing stimulates the production of saliva, which helps to lubricate the food you’ve eaten. It is filled with specific enzymes that begin the process of breaking down the food immediately.
Bottomline: The longer the food spends in the mouth being chewed, the more it breaks down, easing the load on the rest of the digestive tract.
Longer chewing habits also promote satiety and help to reduce food intake as well. It takes a few moments for your stomach to realize that it is at capacity. The longer it takes you to eat, the more you will recognize that your stomach is actually full instead of packing in more food than it can comfortably hold.
Aim to chew your food 30 to 40 times on each bite.
I know…. it’s sounds like so much chewing. It does take some getting used to, but you can do it! Here are a few suggestions on how to pull it off.
Remember to put your utensils down between bites. We tend to rush and swallow too soon when we load up our fork or spoon with more food while the last bite is still in progress.
Wait to drink any liquids until after your have fully swallowed your food.
Take this time to fully taste your food. You will start to notice the subtleties of the tastes incorporated in your food when you go slow and put your conscious attention on it.
Make sure to enjoy some good company and conversation over a meal any chance you get. We tend to slow down and eat at a slower pace when surrounded by friends and family. It also helps us to be more present with our gratitude over the meal.
When you’re ready for a new chewing challenge, aim to chew each bite 50 times!
5. Get Moving After Meal Time
Take a short walk after you meal to help get things moving in the digestive tract. As the body moves, it stimulates the digestive system and helps get the lymphatic system moving as well.
Our lymphatic system shuttles away excess fluids, waste byproducts, and particles from the blood and tissues throughout the body, but it has no pump. It relies on ambulatory movement of the body to move the fluids. Since the Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue (GALT) surrounds our intestines, it is important to get the lymph flowing during digestion as well,
A short walk after a meal also helps to reduce blood sugar levels. According to a 2018 study, a short walk after mealtime lowers blood glucose levels more than walks done before a meal.
However, the intensity and speed of the exercise can make a big difference in whether you experience it as a digestive aid or a digestive detriment. Make sure not to do any exercise that is too vigorous directly after a meal. High intensity exercise can actually inhibit the digestive process if done too quickly after a meal.
Start out with 10 minutes of walking. When you are ready to bump up this practice, gradually increase your walk time to 30 minutes.
If you find that you are still experiencing digestive issues even after implementing these suggestions, then you may be a good candidate for my gut healing program. For more information, contact Jenny at email@example.com or use the link below to make your way to the contact form on the Balanced Flora Botanicals website.