Did you know that your digestive health is directly linked to your body’s overall health?
Our digestive system is responsible for digestion, absorption, and assimilation of the nutrients found in our food, making it essential to the function of every organ in our body.
In this article I’ll share my top tips on how to improve your digestion naturally, so that you can achieve optimum health and enhanced energy! But first up…
- How long is the digestive system? The digestive tract itself runs from the mouth to the booty and stretches to 30 feet long! This is a surface area between 180 and 300 square meters – absolutely mind-blowing!
- What happens when we have poor digestion? It can lead/contribute to skin disorders (acne, eczema and psoriasis), allergies (hay fever, sinusitis and asthma), nervous system complaints (such as mood disorders and insomnia) as well as hormonal disorders (female cycle issues, thyroid disease and diabetes).
- What are the symptoms of poor digestion? Common symptoms include: Bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhoea, reflux and indigestion. These imbalances can easily go unnoticed if we are not careful and over time this can lead to chronic inflammation and disease. Ultimately, a healthy gut is the core of optimal health and vitality.
Also, if you really want to get your digestion in order, a plant-based diet can be a great place to start. Download this FREE Plant-Based Recipe eBook to give the meals a try and see how your digestion responds. Sign up here to grab your copy – it’s free and exclusive to CDK tribe members.
Now, moving on to my top tips for improving your digestion:
1. Eat a balanced & organic diet
A poor diet can lead to shortages of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fatty acids which also effects our ability to produce enough enzymes and gastric secretions which help you to break down food and absorb the nutrients within.
How: Eating organic food where possible is a good idea because it’s more nutrient-dense and significantly reduces our exposure to harmful chemicals (compared to a non-organic alternative). It’s also important to eat a rainbow of colours and rotate your foods daily to make sure that you’re receiving a wide variety of nutrients.
2. Address food allergies and intolerances
Being continually exposed to foods that you’re hypersensitive to can result in inflammation, pain and damage to your gut wall. The most common offenders are wheat, dairy, eggs, soy and corn. Chemicals, preservatives and additives found in food are also responsive in many cases. Whilst digestive disturbance is the most common sign, other symptoms can involve headaches, post-nasal drip, coughing, fatigue, stiff and achy joints and eczema.
3. Improve your microbiome and good bacteria
Our body contains ten times more bacterial cells than human cells, so you can imagine the importance the balance of our microbiome (good bacteria) plays on our health. Healthy bacteria regulate immune function, assist digestion and detoxification, improve mood and reduce inflammation.
How: Consuming fermented products such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, tempeh, and yogurt will boost ‘good’ bacteria in the gut. For a more targeted approach, talk to a naturopath about a probiotic supplement and find strains specific to your individual needs, especially if you’ve been exposed to antibiotics. For some people, a functional stool analysis may be required to identify the presence of pathogenic microbes, bacteria, and parasites.
4. Drink filtered water
Chlorine, fluoride, heavy metals & other contaminants in our tap water harm our microbiota and gut lining over time (not to mention our brains and nervous systems!). If your conditions allow, consider investing in a reverse osmosis water system or choose a good quality water jug or bottle (Epic water filters are a good option).
5. Fibre & bowel movements
Fibre regularises bowel function and can ‘sweep out’ toxins.
How: Eat plenty of high fibre foods including vegetables, seeds, nuts, beans and lentils to encourage daily bowel movements. Increasing fiber over time will lower the chances of intestinal gas, bloating & cramping and combine this with drinking more water.
6. Consider your enzymes and digestive juices
More often than not it’s actually low stomach acid that causes indigestion. Hydrochloric acid in our stomach is essential to break down proteins into amino acids and nutrients, it also stimulates the release of digestive enzymes into our intestine.
How: To keep your stomach acids at a healthy level, avoid drinking excess fluid around meal times as this can dilute your digestive juices. Enzyme supplements are worth the consideration.
See also Health Your Gut With Lee Holmes
7. Heal and seal your gut lining
Our gut lining is responsible for digestion and assimilation of nutrients as well as providing a protective barrier. Hyper permeability (‘leaky gut’) lets proteins, pathogens, and antigens to slip into our blood stream and this causes various sensitivities, allergies, and inflammation.
How: There are some great powders formulated to heal & seal our gut and reduce inflammation, look for the product including Glutamine, Slippery elm, Collagen/gelatine, Aloe Vera, Quercetic & Turmeric.
8. Reduce the impact of stress
Let’s face it, stress is always going to be present in life but it’s how you deal with it that decides whether or not it will impact on your health. In small doses stress is actually a healthy response which our bodies are geared to cope with, it’s when it becomes ‘low grade’ or’ chronic stress’ that our health suffers. Left unmanaged, stress can interfere with our digestion by increasing acidity, changing gut motility and increasing intestinal absorbency. On a wider scale, it contributes to adrenal fatigue, hormonal disruption, immune impairment and overall inflammation.
How: Find balance in your day, take time for meditation, breathing or anything that brings you back to a calmer state of being.
9. Eat consciously and mindfully
The parasympathetic nervous system (otherwise know as our ‘rest & digest’ system) and our gut are also closely connected. So by caring for our gut, we’re better able to care for our nervous system and influence our ability to move from a state of stress, to a state of calm.
How: To support these systems, eat in a quiet environment with little to no distraction, paying complete attention to what you are putting in your body. This will help set up a healthier relationship to food. Also by consciously chewing each bite carefully, your body will metabolise and understand the nutrients better.
Now it’s your turn . Did you find these tips helpful? Please feel free to ask any questions you have via the comment section below – I can’t wait to hear from you.
P.S. Who do you know that’s interested in learning more about how to improve digestive health naturally? Share this article with them now. They’ll thank you for it later 🙂