Almost everyone has an occasional digestive upset, but for one out of every five Americans digestion issues are unfortunately a way of life.
Digestion is one of my 10 Keys to a Perfect Metabolism…because it is not what we eat, it is what we absorb that matters. So even if we are eating the healthiest diet – if we are not properly digesting our foods, we might not be effectively absorbing the nutrition. This could lead to nutrient deficiencies and fatigue. Healthy digestion is also important for detoxifying the body. A sluggish digestive system is kind of like the garbage trucks going on strike – all that garbage starts to pile up!! And that is not comfortable at all!
5 Tips to Boost Digestion & Banish Belly Bloat
We often think that digestion begins in the stomach, but digestion begins before we even take a bite of food. Our saliva has important digestive enzymes that are needed to break down and digest our food – specifically carbohydrates. So one of the simplest things we can all do to boost our digestion is to just PAUSE before we eat. If we pause for a moment before we begin eating – smell our food, look at it – that will get our salvia going, and that will help our digestion. That is one reason why it helps to eat food that looks and smells delicious – it makes us salivate!
2. SLOW DOWN.
We are all so busy, and so eating on the run or in front of the TV or computer is very common – but it makes us less mindful about what we are eating, so we tend to eat more food too quickly, and also not chew our food thoroughly. The ancient tradition of Ayurvedic medicine says we should chew our food 30 times each bite!! Even if we chewed our food half that much it would probably be an improvement!! The reason for that is, the body is better able to digest the food if it is properly broken down into small pieces and mixed with the saliva. ALso, we tend to eat less if we take our time and chew our food.
3. BALANCE THE BACTERIA
One of the main reasons that many people have digestive trouble in the first place – is having an overabundance of unhealthy bacteria in their guts. This can be a major cause of bloating. When there is an imbalance of bacteria in the gut, certain foods that you eat can ferment in the gut. Fermentation creates bubbles and expands – voila – you have embarrassing bloating and discomfort!! So it is important to drive out the bad bacteria with good bacteria. According to this article, “The human body should have 20 times more beneficial bacteria than cells to maintain a healthy intestinal tract and help fight illness and disease.” The great thing about that is having plenty of healthy bacteria not only helps digestion, but also the immune system, mood, heart health, weight, and so much more!! Read The Importance of Good Bacteria to learn more.
Taking probiotics or eating fermented foods can help to balance out the bacteria in the gut – but realize that when you stir up all that bacteria, you can sometimes feel a little worse before you feel better. So take it slow – and give your body time to adjust. I recommend inner-ēco™ probiotic kefir – because you can easily adjust your dose – start with 1 teaspoon daily and if all is well, gradually work up to 1 Tablespoon – which delivers 100 Billion CFUs of probiotics!
4. AVOID or ELIMINATE problem foods
If you notice that your bloating gets worse after eating certain foods, you might want to consider a food elimination diet, or having a food intolerance panel run to identify foods that could be troublesome, such as the ALCAT test (Read: Could You Have a Food Intolerance? to learn more). Another option to consider – especially for those that have IBS or small intestine bacteria overgrowth (SIBO) – is to try a low FODMAP diet.
FODMAP is an acronym and stands for:
To put it simply, FODMAPs are basically carbohydrates that are fermented by bacteria. FODMAPs are not bad for everyone. But in certain people they can over-ferment and cause gas and bloating. Think about it like a soda bottle that gets shaken up before you open it – that is kind of like what is happening in your gut!! Some of the common FODMAP foods include apples, onions, high fructose corn syrup, wheat, dairy, and sugar alcohols like xylitol. This FODMAP List provided by the IBS group will help you identify which foods to avoid and which ones are okay.
If a low-FODMAP diet does improve your symptoms, then it is a good idea to follow the diet for at least 1-2 months. But ideally, the goal is to fix the gut bacteria imbalance, so you might be able to handle many of the FODMAP foods again. An option is to gradually introducing the foods one by one after a few months to see if your digestion is able to handle them again. Certain foods may always need to be avoided. If a low-FODMAP diet does not improve your symptoms, it could be other foods causing the trouble, or some other underlying cause.
5.SUPPORT WITH ENZYMES
Another problem that can cause bloating is that many people do not produce sufficient digestive enzymes or hydrochloric acid (HCl) to properly break down and digest foods. This means that food is not being broken down properly for digestion. Eating a highly processed diet only will make the situation worse, because processed food is essentially “dead’ – it contains no live enzymes. So supplementing with a high quality digestive enzyme can help the body to properly digest foods. Some people will benefit from taking them all the time, others might just use them occasionally with certain foods or combination of foods. Gradually decreasing the processed foods and replacing with whole unprocessed foods will also help overtime.
Other factors that can impair digestion:
There are many different causes for digestive issues – including infections, parasites, food intolerances, yeast overgrowth, as well as serious diseases. If someone does not improve after a couple weeks using the above tips, then I recommend making an appointment with a qualified health care practitioner that is experienced in digestion. Digestive issues should not be ignored, as they can lead to nutrient deficiencies, or could even be indicative of a more serious problem.
Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.
©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.
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