“No healthy gut, no glory!” is a pretty good summary of how your life would be if you’re suffering from any digestive disease. All organs involved in processing your food such as your mouth, esophagus, stomach, intestine, liver, pancreas, gall bladder and anus comprise your digestive system. When any of these organs are malfunctioning or are damaged by a disease, your health and overall well being will turn upside down. In the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, almost 5,000 registered deaths are due to diseases of the digestive system and more than half of this population is female. That is why you shouldn’t ignore your gut health.
In this article, I’ll share five tips to improve digestive functions naturally.
First and foremost, choose foods that are beneficial to your gut.
Healthy Gut Tip #1: Choose gut-friendly foods
Fresh and organic foods must be on the top of your list. You might complain that it’s expensive. Why? It’s because organic foods are free of chemicals and healthier than those that are boxed and canned.
The point is that there’s a reason why processed and chemically treated foods are cheap, right? The truth is processed foods can hurt your gut! They are high in sugar content, synthetic, packed with preservatives and additives, and are genetically modified (GM). These foods are often associated with inflammatory diseases of the gut. So go for fresh and organic foods!
If you love eating meat, choose fish, chicken and lean meats over red meats. Your gut can handle them better and they aren’t associated with colon cancer, unlike the fatty red meats. When it comes to grains, eat more whole grains, as they are rich in fiber that improve proper digestion. They are good sources of long-lasting energy and help reduce cholesterol. However, avoid wheat grains if you have Celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
Fruits and vegetables are your gut’s best friends too. Apples, broccoli, beans, carrots and cauliflower are also rich in fiber and can help prevent constipation. By the way, don’t forget to drink a lot of water when eating high fiber foods to avoid bloating, stomach cramps and gas. Moreover, yellow, light and dark green-coloured fruits and vegetables contain carotene, folate, and vitamins C and E, which are essential in protecting your stomach from cancer. In addition, you need to add probiotics to your diet! Yogurt, kefir, kimchi, pickles, wine, Miso and soy sauce are good sources of probiotics, which boost the good bacteria in your gut.
On the other hand, always consider your individual food intolerances when it comes to making food choices. We can help you identify foods that you should eat or avoid according to your individual health needs. Likewise, candida overgrowth is another big issue that can cause digestive problems. We typically screen for this during initial consultation in our clinics.
Also, do not forget to always chew your food more.
Healthy Gut Tip #2 Chew your food more
Chewing properly is the most important factor to achieving healthier and better digestion. Some would say chew every bite of food 32 times. However, different foods vary in texture and consistency. So, when the food lost all its texture, then it’s time to swallow.
What’s the reason behind it? Chewing more cuts food into smaller pieces. The smaller food pieces, the easier it is for your stomach and intestine to digest. Also, it enhances the absorption of nutrients. Chewing longer will also help you eat slowly and eat less because your brain will send a signal to your stomach that you’re already full after 20 minutes of eating. So, think about how much you could eat in 20 minutes if you spend more time chewing… a lot less than the usual, right? Sounds like an instant technique for weight loss!
Moreover, chewing longer triggers the production of more saliva, which helps wash away bacteria and food particles; thereby preventing the buildup of plaques and tooth decay. It also saves you from other digestive problems like abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, cramping and diarrhea. Besides, these digestive issues happen when bacteria in your gut begins breaking down undigested foods.
So, what’s the proper way to chew your food? Again, the type, texture and consistency of foods vary. Some foods take time to completely break them into smaller pieces, while others are even closer to liquid form. However, you need to keep a few points in mind. First, find a relaxing and non-distracting environment that is conducive for eating and proper chewing.
It’s actually not a good idea to eat on the run. It causes you to take bigger bites, chew less and swallow faster. Yes, you feel full immediately, but that’s not a guarantee that you’re absorbing all the nutrients properly. Besides, your stomach will surely have hard time in digesting large pieces of food. Sometimes, food goes down to your small intestine undigested, which means they’re not in the ready-to-absorb form. Most of these foods are wasted, descend to your large intestine, and are converted into feces.
Make sure to take smaller bites of food, as they are easier to chew. Keep on chewing until the food is almost liquefied or has lost its texture, then that’s the time to swallow. Do not take another bite unless you’ve completely swallowed the food in your mouth and drink fluids only after swallowing your food.
Moreover, stress can mess up your digestive health- so let it go!
Healthy Gut Tip #3 Let go of stress
What are the common sources of stress in your life- relationship, work, and financial issues? You better take it easy and find stress relief because chronic stress affects your digestive health tremendously.
When you are stressed out, it will trigger a flight-or-fight response, which causes physiological changes. Your stress hormones are released to make you more alert. In addition, your energy surges to prepare you to either run away or fight back to the perceived threat known as stressors. This is part of the human survival mechanism, which is good anyway. However, it’s a different story when you have constant and long-term (chronic) stress exposure.
Chronic stress reduces blood flow to your digestive system. This slows down the contraction of your digestive muscles and decreases production of digestive enzymes resulting in delayed stomach emptying, indigestion, decreased nutrient absorption and even constipation. For some people, stress triggers irritable bowel. This has something to do with the increased production of corticotropin releasing factor, which makes the gut more permeable and sensitive. So they may alternately have diarrhea and constipation. You can read more about irritable bowels HERE
So, how do you let go of stress? We all have ways to find relief but you have to make sure you’re on the right track. Some people have unhealthy habits to let go of stress like getting drunk or over eating, which you should avoid completely. Meanwhile, I recommend that you start practicing relaxation techniques like Qigong, meditation, yoga and deep breathing exercise. Improve your social life as well. Spend more time with your loved ones, either sharing how your day was, cooking together, watching a movie or going to a massage spa. Having someone to talk with is an effective outlet in letting go of stress. Last but not the least… laugh more! It’s the best stress antidote. You can check this article on the Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Laugh More for more details.
Also, consider changing your posture when you defecate.
Healthy Gut Tip #4 Squat when you poop
Is there really a proper position when defecating? In most commercial establishments, be it a ladies’ room or men’s room, you will always see the reminder “Sit like a queen or king,” and “Do not step on the toilet seat.” Even toilet seats are designed for an upright position. But did you know that squatting is the proper posture when you poop?
Sitting upright when defecating actually hinders your puborectalis muscle from relaxing completely. This muscle controls your continence and needs to fully relax in order to pass your feces smoothly. However, trying to poop in an upright position causes people to strain during a bowel movement. Imagine a kinked water hose… that’s what happens to your colon. It takes longer to eliminate your poop just like water that can’t pass through a kinked hose. On the other hand, squatting is the natural posture conducive for bowel movement. It allows faster and complete emptying of your colon because it straightens and relaxes your puborectalis muscle fully. Does this make sense to you?
Now, how can you squat in a toilet seat designed for sitting? You don’t actually need to change your toilet seat! You can buy a footstool to help you squat. Besides, there are many accessories available online that are specifically designed for this like the Squatty Potty.
Last but not the least, try some herbs.
Healthy Gut Tip #5 Pick the Ayurvedic herb Avipattikar ChurnaMany herbs aid in improving your digestion naturally, and at top of the list is Avipattikar Churna. This herbal blend is primarily used for promoting digestive health and relieving gastrointestinal imbalances. It is a natural digestive tonic that relieves constipation, indigestion and hyperacidity. Likewise, it improves your appetite.
You may try Avipattikar Churna powder that is available at Beyond Good Health Clinics and CHI Health Online Store. Its herbal components: Sunthi (Zingiber offinale), Marica (Pipper nigrum), Pippali (Piper longum), Haritaki (Terminalia bellerica), Amalaki (Emblica officinale), Musta (Cyperus rotundus), Vida lavana (rock salt), Vidanga (Emblia ribes), Ela (Elletaria cardamomum), Patra (Cinamomum tamala), Lavanga (Syzygium aromaticum), Trivirt (Ipomeas pp) and Sarkara (cane sugar) are 100% organic. It is also imprinted with Homeo Vibrational Information that relieves constipation, protects your stomach and gut lining, and rebuilds your immune function.
How to use it safely? Children over 12 years old and adults can use this powdered herb daily. Just mix 1/2 – 1 tsp. of Avipattikar Churna powder in a glass of water and drink it daily or as directed by your health practitioner.
I hope that you’ll start practicing all these health tips to improve your overall digestive health. All of these methods are natural and safe. Until next time!
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