Growing up, I suffered from major digestive issues, and for the longest time I honestly felt like there was nothing I could do. I didn’t understand the inner workings of my body. I felt like I was broken, and every time I went to the doctor, I was just told I had IBS, “Sorry nothing you can really do” and was written a prescription and sent out the door.
Why Digestion Is Important
If you’ve ever suffered from chronic digestive issues or are right now, you get how frustrating that can be, and you know it can affect your mood too. Your digestion is the cornerstone of your health.
It’s what allows you to absorb nutrients from the food you eat that your body needs to function and eliminate the toxins you are breathing in, eating, drinking and producing every single day.
Without proper digestion you are at risk of developing a whole slew of illnesses and diseases. Want to reduce your chances of getting sick? Work on your digestion. I find it upsetting when I see so many people walking around feeling self-conscious, heavy, bloated and moody because their bodies are in such discomfort.
The truth is there is something you can do. I’ve worked with so many clients that have had everything from mild cases of bloating to chronic constipation to even more serious digestive issues.
How To Improve Digestion
While the path to finally finding relief from your symptoms is a very unique one for each person – one that requires personal attention – I do want to share with you 5 simple and natural ways to improve your digestion that have worked wonders for me and my clients.
You can start these today and finally begin to feel lighter and happier once again.
1. Sip Hot Water Throughout The Day
When one of the world’s most famous Ayurvedic physicians, Dr. Raju, came to the United States and saw the amount of toxicity in the patients he was seeing, he implemented this simple, yet powerful practice that he learned from his grandfather.
The hot water doesn’t flush out the toxins, but rather the hot temperature on the tongue, stimulates and enhances digestion in two ways. First, it will help you digest the food that you eat throughout the day, decreasing the likelihood of producing and storing toxins in your body. Second, when you’re not eating, the hot water will help burn up the lingering toxins in your body.
Many people will do the warm water routine in the morning, but then go back to their cold water, soda, coffee and iced teas later in the day. Not the recipe for good digestion!
Here are a few suggestions to help you incorporate this into your day.
- Bring filtered water to a complete boil and pour into a thermos.
- You don’t need to be drinking a ton at a time. Just sip on some water every half hour or so or more if you are thirsty.
- Stop around 6 PM if you find that you often have to get up in the middle of the night to urinate.
2. Eat Stewed Apples For Breakfast
This is one of my favorite digestion-friendly practices because it tastes like apple pie filling and makes your belly feel good too. The Standard American Diet has us putting way too many cold and dry foods into our bodies first thing in the morning when our digestion is just waking up.
Common breakfasts like eggs and toast, cold cereal and yogurt with granola can all be digestive nightmares first thing in the morning.
This warming and delicious recipe1 on the other hand helps to stimulate bowel movements and will enhance digestion and metabolism so you feel more energized and increase your vitality and alertness.
The sour taste of apples increases saliva, stimulates the digestive tract and the liver. The sweet taste awakens our senses. The spices and ghee support the digestive process by helping to break down the food and move it through the intestines and colon.
3. Get More Rest
When your body is in a constant state of stress (aka “flight or fight”), it’s not concerned with digestion… only survival. This state of high stress activates your sympathetic nervous system and when that happens your muscles contract, your saliva production is reduced and your stomach stop many of its digestive functions.
The parasympathetic nervous system on the other hand is what is activated when your body is in a relaxed state. It is able to bring your body back into a state of harmony and balance. It’s in this state that digestive enzymes are released, saliva increases and your muscles relax – all which help to aid in digesting food, absorbing nutrients, eliminating waste and toxins.
So if you’re burnt out and backed up, time to get some more sleep, meditate or take a quick nap when your body is aching for it.
4. Move More
Unfortunately most of us are suffering from more and more digestive issues because of our sedentary lifestyle. We sit way too long and move way too less. Our circulatory system and muscles are just not designed to take this kind of abuse. It hinders the natural movement of our digestive process and can lead to uncomfortable constipation, gas, bloating and all sorts of other pains and disease.
Now you don’t have to go and take a spin cycle or run a marathon to help your digestion. Just make a commitment to move your body more every day. Take the stairs, walk to work, take a 5-minute stretch or walk break every hour. Make it fun. Your body will thank you.
Listen To Your Body
Teaching my clients how to intuitively eat is one of the biggest factors that has helped them create and sustain more vibrant health (and that has helped me create a healthy lifestyle without dieting.) As a society we are way too wrapped up in rules that have us disconnecting from our body’s unique needs – “6 small meals a day, 3 meals a day, 1500 calories, 2000 calories, low-fat, high-fat, Paleo, raw, macros, micros…” Anyone else exhausted and confused?
The topic of intuitive eating is one that I’ll be diving much deeper into, but for now here’s my simple advice when it comes to improving digestion intuitively.
Eat when you’re hungry. Don’t eat when you’re not hungry. Honor your body’s hunger signals. Connect with it. Respect it.
If you’re not hungry, most likely your previous meal hasn’t digested. If you put more food on top of that, you’re asking for a digestive disaster. Take a moment and check in with yourself when it’s “time for lunch.” Is your body ready for it? Or does it need a little breathing room to work through what you ate a few hours ago?