Many ancient schools of medicine believe that a digestive system that is imbalanced is the root of all disease. Signs of imbalanced digestion include bloating, gas, burping, IBS, constipation, allergies, depression, low energy, unclear thinking, skin issues - the list goes on. When we support our digestive tract, these symptoms may decrease or even heal entirely.
Our digestive systems are naturally capable, complex and they perform many intricate functions. However, they rely on us to provide it with good food and a calm environment so they can function at their best. Here are a few ideas on how to keep your digestive system on track.
Slow & Steady
Ever eat your meal like it’s a race to the finish line? Well, in terms of proper digestion, there is no trophy for the winner. Eating quickly means we chew less and bypass the the first crucial step in healthy digestion. Chunks of food get sent prematurely to the stomach and since those strong grinders in our mouth don’t exist anywhere else along the digestive tract, we are unable to digest the nutrients as effectively. The best thing you can do for digestion is to slow down, taste and enjoy every... single... bite.
Say No to Seconds
An empty stomach is about the size of our fist. I’ll repeat that. Our stomach is as big as one of our fists. That's not very big. Although it does expand when we eat, it would rather we keep our meals small and frequent. Our smart bellies produce hydrochloric acid to help break down our food but, just like tending to a fire, it needs to be stoked slowly and frequently rather than overloaded and suffocated.
Listen to the Signal
This segues beautifully into my next point; our stomach sends our brain clear signals when it is satiated. When the belly starts to expand, it cleverly sends chemicals to the brain cueing us to stop eating. But they have little control as to whether we actually do or not. So, they cross their fingers and hope we respond to their message. This is where it is crucial to listen and adhere to its request.
Small Intestines Love Probiotics
The stomach often gets mistaken as the most important part of the digestive process, but in truth our small intestine is where it's at. This is where most of what we eat gets broken down by enzymes and where nutrients are absorbed. If the small intestine is not functioning at an optimal level we are not absorbing the necessary nutrients our bodies are asking for. Help your small intestine out by supporting it with probiotics. Certain fermented foods naturally contain the probiotics we need but if you are not eating them on a regular basis, supplements can help.
Anxious, Nervous, Stressed, Angry?
Our body is not in its best digestive state if we eat while we are upset. Our attention becomes less focused on chewing and tasting and in turn the stomach secretes smaller levels of digestive juices. We need to be in a somewhat calm and peaceful state for our bodies to be on board with digesting. Before you eat put your hands on your stomach and breathe at least three breaths into your belly. Let any lingering tension and emotions subside and bring your attention to the meal. This small step can make a big difference in the way your meal is digested.
Luckily, we don’t have to command every stage of the digestive process, our organs already know what to do. But it is up to us to provide it with healthy food and surroundings to let digestion work its best. Through bringing love, awareness and attention to our digestive tracts, we just may be able to give ‘the root of all disease’ a more supportive foundation.