Having digestive dis-ease is utterly uncomfortable and can really impact your overall health and wellbeing.
Digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, diarrhea, bloating and gas are negative symptoms of an upset GI track but did you know it can lead to other problems including asthma, exhaustion, weight gain, food allergies and even chronic health issues if left untreated?
I know, seems serious, right?
Think about it. Digestion of food is crucial to nutrient and vitamin absorption. It's in your digestive track that your body collects all the goodness it needs.
All of our organs, tissues, cells, hair and skin all get their fuel from the food, water and air we take in from the outside. If your system is not running optimally then organs like your liver and pancreas have to work harder and you might not be getting the nourishment your body needs to thrive.
Gut health is all the rage on instagram these days and with good reason. Here are some of my favorite tips to taking care of your digestive track.
1. Eat 1-2 tablespoons of saurkraut every day
Or try other fermented foods such as kefir, kombucha, kimchi or fermented vegetables like pickles. Eating these probiotic rich foods promote the growth of healthy "good bacteria" that regenerate your microbiome. Start by slowly introducing them into your diet giving your internal ecosystem time to adjust to having a more diverse gut flora. You could also try taking a probiotic and prebiotic supplement but I always reccomend opting for food first and supplements only if absolutely necessary.
2. Start your day with an Apple Cider Vinegar shot. Use a ratio of 3:1 parts water to ACV
Apple cider vinegar is "filled with great enzymes that will support healthy digestion. Its also great for acid reflux, blood pressure and can help with weight loss." It has many healing compounds like acetic acid, potassium, magnesium and probiotics. Its a great way to start the day giving your metabolism a boost that can also help support clear skin and energy.
3. Drink 12-16oz of water before your first cup of coffee or matcha in the morning
Dehydration massively contributes to digestive issues and constipation. If you are struggling with healthy bowel movements try drinking water first thing in the morning. If you are just starting out and dependant on other liquids like soda, coffee, fruit juices or sports drinks start by adding a 1:1 swap. For every non-water beverage you consume you have to drink the same amount in clean purified h2o. Trust me you will start to feel better immediately and one of the best things you can drink for your body is drinking water.
4. Message your belly/intestines while laying on your back
When I was following the Atkins Diet I barely went number two. Like not even daily and the constipation was SO REAL for me (TMI? Sorry but it's the truth). while it sucked, I often found repreive by laying on my belly and messaging my stomach and intenstines. It was sometimes the push my system needed to get moving.
5. Eat more fiber-full foods
Fiber is an essential nutrient that helps prevent and relieve constipation but it also helps lower your risk for diabetes and heart disease. Dietary Fiber can be found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. It helps move waste through the intenstines and supports a healthy poo. I love leafy green veggies, quinoa, farro and fruit for this too. *Noteable mention- it plays a huge role in your bodies insulin response especially while consuming carbohydrates. It supports the liver and pancrease during the metabolism of carbs and sugars.
6. Chew your food completely
This is pretty self explanatory but digestion begins in the mouth with the mechanical breakdown from chewing and chemical break down of saliva. But think of how often we inhale our food instead of slowing chewing each bite. Next meal time, slow down and focus on actaully savoring each bite and thoroughly chewing your food. It will absolutely help with digestion.
7. Manage your stress
Stress reaks havoc on every system in the body including your mind and immune system which is essentially your gut. Did you know that 70% of our immune system is in the GI track? This is why it is so important to manage it. If you constantly have allergies or are catching colds it could be the result of pore gut health and a lack of diversity in your gut flora. Figure out what activities works for you and what you enjoy. I am huge on exercise and getting the blood flowing. Meditation is another powerful tool and a hobbie that you might love- I aim for 10-15 minutes first thing in the morning before coffee.
8. Listen to your body and eat intuitively
This one is YUGE! Drop the fad diets, food trends and diet dogma. Listen to your body and build up a solid knowledge base of what works for you and what doesn't. This means you will have to tune inward and pay attention to how you feel after eating certian foods which often means slowing down in this fast paced world of ours. It can be challenging, I know. But it will help put you in control of your health and be best for you in the long run.
9. Increase your Glutamine intake
Glutamine is an amino acid and can Improve gastrointestinal health because it is a vital nutrient for the intestines to rebuild and repair. Although you can take a supplement, I personally prefer the food route. What can I say? This girl likes to eat. Great sources of it are eggs, beets, beans, spinach, parsley and fresh vegetable juices. Check with a health care professional before taking any new supplements to make sure its the right thing for you if you choose to go that route.
10. Eat on a consistent schedule
This allows your system to work more effciently since it will know what to expect and when. Be consistent with your eating habits by sitting down for the same amount of meals each day whether thats 3 big or 5 small or whatever. For me personally having a routine around eating and exercise makes it less stressful and easier to stick with becasue there is no guessing as to what I am suppose to do each day since its been drawn out in advance. This might take some initial planning and trial and error at first to see what works with your schedule but I find I am way less stressed about my wellness and eating now as nothing is left to chance and I know what to expect each day.
11. Eat foods that support your liver function
Your liver is hugely important conducting some 400+ tasks in the body and it plays a leading role in the digestion of carbohydrates, protien and fat. Increase your intake of liver supporting foods not only for overall health but to increase the efficiency of your digestion. Try carrots, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, lentils, ginger, kimchi (anything fermented), sweet potatoes and leafy greens that have been cooked or juiced.
What are your favorite tips to support digestion? I'd love to know!
Signing off babes, xo Cara