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5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Digestion

You may have heard the saying “the gut is our 2nd brain.” This is because, just like the brain, your gut is so central to the body as it affects every single part! Of course there are the obvious factors we know our gut health affects such as how often we go to the bathroom, but did you know that it also directly impacts your mood, energy levels, skin, inflammation in the body, and immune system?!

When we don’t provide our bodies with the proper nutrients, we can get irritable and feel fatigued. When we eat foods that aren’t good for us or that we may have a potential allergy or sensitivity to, we can develop skin problems like acne and experience flare ups of pain in the body. Overtime, if we continue to eat foods our bodies cannot tolerate, we end up sending our immune systems into overdrive as they work to fight off the offenders. Eventually, this can lead to a compromised immune system or autoimmune condition where the body attacks its own cells as it can no longer distinguish between its own cells and foreign invaders.

There are many other factors that can cause these health conditions, such as poor lifestyle habits, but combine this with poor gut health and you are setting yourself up for moodiness, fatigue, skin conditions, pain, and immune dysfunction.

Luckily, there are some simple fixes that you can implement today to help improve your gut health—and that starts with improving your digestion. Good digestion is important because if we can’t digest our food properly, it can lead to a ton of issues, including: fatigue, bloating, indigestion, acid reflux, heartburn, diarrhea, and constipation to name a few. And if you’ve experienced any of these stomach problems, you know just how much enjoyment they can take out of your day!

Here are 5 simple tips for healthier digestion to help you feel your best and improve your overall health long-term:

1) Eat in a “parasympathetic” state.

This is one of the most important things you can do to improve your digestion (hence why it’s number 1!). In today’s world, we are constantly on the go, running to work, running to appointments, running errands… always running (more like driving, but you get the point!). And while on the go, we tend to take our food with us because, well, there’s just no time to sit down and have a nice, relaxing meal anymore. But, when we eat on the go, our bodies are in a stressed or “sympathetic” state which doesn’t allow us to digest properly. The reason for this is because when we’re stressed, our brains are unable to send out the proper signals to the digestive system to prepare for digestion, hence causing some trouble in paradise. On the other hand, when we are in a “parasympathetic” or relaxed state, our brains send out all the right signals so we can digest our food and feel good doing it! Some simple tips to help us slow down and eat only in a relaxed state are:

Schedule time for meals so that you aren’t eating on the go

Take deep breaths before meals

Have a gratitude practice before meals—For example, simply saying, “I am thankful for the food in front of me.”

Chew thoroughly while eating (20-30x)

2) Eat a whole food, nutrient-dense diet.

Have you ever read the ingredient label on the back of a pre-packaged food? If you have, I bet you’ve notice there are plenty of ingredients you can’t even pronounce! That’s because processed foods are filled with artificial ingredients that are in no way good for us. Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t eat it!

Today, many of our diets lack nutrient-dense whole foods, such as vegetables. Instead we are eating the Standard American diet (SAD) which consists of processed and pre-packaged foods, sweets and candies, fried foods, and refined grains (bread, pasta, muffins, etc)—all of which have minimal to no nutritional value. Unlike processed foods, whole foods have tons of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are bodies need to survive and thrive. In fact, many whole foods contain nutrients that we cannot make in the body or get anywhere else! Which explains why you end up experiencing symptoms such as fatigue when not eating the right foods.

Foods to include in your diet:

Organic, grass-fed meat (beef, lamb, pork, etc)

Pasture-raised poultry (chicken, eggs, turkey, etc)

Wild-caught fish & seafood

Organic vegetables & fruit

Soaked, sprouted, or fermented grains & legumes (wild rice, quinoa, black beans, chickpeas, etc)—if tolerated

Soaked & sprouted nuts & seeds (if tolerated)

Organic, raw, grass-fed or pasture-raised dairy products (milk, cheese, etc)—if tolerated

If it comes in a box or bag, it’s best to only eat it sparingly.

3) Avoid water consumption around meals

So I’m sure you’ve thought to yourself before, “If I chug a glass of water right before I eat, I’ll eat less!”…Well, maybe that is true because it’ll fill you up, but what it will also do is disrupt your digestion (and eating less isn’t necessarily a good thing)! When you drink water right before eating, the water actually dilutes your digestive enzymes and stomach acid, which are both needed to breakdown food properly. In turn, you’ll end up with symptoms such as bloating, indigestion, acid reflux, or heartburn…and nobody wants that! The best thing to do is:

Limit water intake to 30 minutes before meals

If you need to drink while eating, take small sips of water

4) Eliminate Food Allergens.

Food allergies, sensitivities, or intolerances are extremely common in today’s society. They can be caused by certain lifestyle and environmental factors which, overtime, trigger our immune systems to recognize foods as foreign invaders. The cascade of events that often occurs starts with some lifestyle or environmental factor, such as stress, high refined carb diets, diets high in processed foods, excess