Good digestion is one of the most important aspects to our health. Since food is the only substance our body has to make and repair all cells, tissues and organs in our body it’s vital that we not only eat good nutritious food, but that we ensure we digest these foods properly.
You can be the cleanest, healthiest eater, but if your body isn’t breaking down your food into tinny little bits where all the nutrients live then you won’t be able to absorb and USE all the goodness found in those healthy foods.
I always say food is the core foundation to health and having a healthy digestive system goes hand-in-hand with this.
“Man is not nourished by what he swallows, but by what he digests and uses.” ~Hippocrates
Today, I’d like to explore with you a few easy things you can incorporate into your daily routine to support and improve your digestive system.
- To start your day in the best way for good digestion have a mug of hot water with lemon as your first food intake. I can hear some of you saying “But I ALWAYS start my day with a coffee. I can’t give up my morning coffee!” No worries. I’m not suggesting you have to give up your cup of joe – at least not yet. Just have a mug of hot water with fresh lemon BEFORE your morning coffee.
Put hot water from the kettle into your mug – just like you’re making tea – and add fresh squeezed lemon juice (1tsp-1Tbsp – whatever your taste buds prefer) or a quarter of a lemon squeezed. Bitter sour foods, like lemons, stimulate our digestive system to start producing the enzymes we need to break down our foods and help the liver to detoxify.
Essentially, by doing this you’re giving a wake up call to your digestive organs ensuring they are prepped and ready to go for the day. The better we breakdown our foods the less gas and bloating we experience.
2. It’s common to drink while eating, but this practice is detrimental to our digestive potential. No liquids with your meals. When we take in liquids with our food we are diluting the enzymes secreted in our saliva – first area of food breakdown. We’re diluting the acid produced in our stomach – second area of food breakdown. Our stomach acid also acts as protection against infection. We don’t want to dilute this acid and allow harmful bacteria to travel even further into our body!
Drinking also dilutes the many enzymes and other digestive juices secreted into the small intestine. It’s best to drink half hour before meals, or just a little right before eating to get medication or supplements down if needed and then not again for an hour and a half after finishing your meal.
3. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ~ Hippocrates
There are certain foods that specifically improve and support proper digestion for us. Choose to incorporate one or a few of these into your daily routine and delight in their health benefits!
- Raw veggies contain enzymes that help us to breakdown our food. These help to ease the burden of the digestive system.
- When eaten in their whole form, fennel and ginger help to aid digestion as well. Add fennel to your salad or just eat it raw like you would celery and carrot sticks. It has an amazing black licorice flavour.
Ginger is a great addition to your stir-fry or get creative and make your own stir fry sauce with grated ginger, soy sauce and fresh garlic. Try some in your hot water with lemon.
These both help to reduce bloating, eliminate gas and reduce inflammation.
- Incorporate herbs into your cooking routine – fresh when possible. Turmeric, rosemary, caraway and dill support optimal liver function and increase the thoroughness of digestion. Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory as well. Cinnamon is a great addition to your breakfast and will help stabilize your blood sugar levels and support your pancreas. Even if you’re not diabetic your body will benefit from blood sugar support. High blood sugar = high insulin = belly fat. Yuck! Cinnamon is also great for improving a sluggish digestive system – let’s get those bowels moving!4. CHEW! How easily we forget this simple, yet so important, aspect of digestion. Digestion starts in your mouth. Chewing your food until it’s a liquid allows the other organs of the digestive tract to do their job efficiently and reduces unwanted gas and bloating.
Start by incorporating a couple of these tips into your daily routine today!
Written by Jennifer Kaster N.D.
“Here to help you achieve wellness…the natural way.”
Photos curtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/