Digestive Distress is a REAL THING.
One of the main reason I became a Holistic Nutritionist was to learn how to support my over sensitive, constantly bloated, often annoying digestive system.
Bloating, Constipation, Diarrhea are all symptoms of some form of imbalance within the gastro- intestinal tract or some sort of sensitivity or allergy to a specific food.
And walking around with a food baby is NO FUN for anyone!
Below are some important steps that can be followed to improve the efficiency of your digestive system.
1. Chew Your Food
This may sound crazy but next time you eat, try chewing your food 20-30 times before you swallow! Why you ask? Carbohydrates unlike fats and proteins begin digesting in the mouth. An enzyme called salivary amylase is released through saliva which starts the first process in digestion.
By the time the food makes it down to the esophagus and into the stomach (where protein and fats begin digesting) it is mechanically broken down more efficeintly.
Properly chewed food sets the stage for greater, digestion, absorption, assimilation and elimination. Chewing food well, also prevents over eating by mindfully tasting each bite & texture. I am naturally more of a fast eater, especially if I am hungry! So learning to slow down with each meal makes a huge difference. BONUS…Its FREE!
2. Eat in a Calm, Relaxed State
The body has two branches of the nervous system. The first branch controls all digestive system functions from the secretion of saliva all the way to the work of the liver and the kidney.
The other branch governs one’s stress response, also known as “fight or flight”. An example of the fight or flight nervous system being activated is, driving late to school while noticing your gas tank is on empty. Or stressing out about a deadline for work, while having to make dinner for your family.
This system should be turned on when we are exercising or running down a dark alley at night. But nowadays many people are chronically stressed and this fight or flight response is taxed! When this nervous system is turned on it inhibits digestion.
Blood will be sent to your extremities, not to your abdominal cavity, as your body cannot differentiate if you are running from a tiger or your husband is pissing you off! The same hormonal response will occur! In other words when this nervous system is activated, you CANNOT efficiently digest your food, since your body views any type of STRESS as a “threat in place.”
So, take a breathe before each meal and try your best to bring yourself into a calm environment.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar – Your Best Friend!
Apple cider vinegar is fermented, which means it contains raw enzymes and beneficial bacteria for the body.
Think of your stomach as a washing machine churning that semi solid food (which you efficiently broke down by chewing 20-30 times) into a liquid state. In order for nutrients to be efficiently broken down the stomach requires hCL (hydrochloric acid aka – stomach acid)
The apple cider vinegar has a similar pH to hCL. If you don’t know what pH is, it stands for potential hydrogen and it is scale ranging from 0-14. Anything closer to zero is more acidic, anything closer to 14 is more alkaline. Stomach acid is around 1-2 pH and apple cider vinegar is around 2 pH, so it gives a surplus of digestive juices!
hCL is the highest in the morning and starts to decrease as the day progresses, so this tip can be helpful especially in the evening. It can also be great to take in the am to really get the digestive juices flowing.
How to use it?
Mix 1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar with a small glass of water upon waking. Another option is to drink 20-30 minutes before a meals
Salad Dressing Recipe:
Apple cider vinegar can also be added to salad dressings to give a delicious kick! One of my favorite Recipes is:
- 1 tsp. of Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp. of Extra Virgin Organic Olive Oil
- 1 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
Or make it as an Anti-inflammatory Drink (I get my clients to try this in the am)
- 1 tsp. of Apple Cider Vinegar
- Juice of half a Organic Lemon
- Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
- Pinch of Tumeric
- Crushed Ginger/or Ginger Powder
- 1 Large Glass of Warm Water
4.Take A Digestive Enzyme
Digestive enzymes break down the food you eat, which allows our body’s to absorb the nutrients. If we do not have enough digestive enzymes being secreted from the pancreas and small intestine, the body is not able to utilize all the nutrients found in food. So although you may be eating well your body may be not be getting all the nutrtients from the food you are consuming!
It’s similar to having a shower, but only having the water run off your body. You are not able to use the water to scrub and wash. So after you shower, your body is NOT fully clean. With the digestive system, the food/nutrients goes through your GI tract but are not fully absorbed!
So you may be eating the best quality, nutrient rich food, but if your not absorbing it, your kind of missing the entire concept of nutrition!
When choosing a digestive enzyme supplement, be sure to look for a plant based enzyme formula. Plant-derived enzymes are effective over a broader pH range in the body and can help break down a wider variety of foods, including proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and sugars.
There are also targeted formulas available to address digestive issues including excess gas or lactose intolerance. Specific herbs and amino acid supplementation can also help to soothe and nourish a sensitive digestive tract.
5. Take A Probiotic
Probiotics are a mixture of several different strains of bacteria (microflora). This “good bacteria,” lives harmoniously with us, in our the digestive system and plays an important role in our immunity.
When the diet consists of processed foods, excess sugar, or constant antibiotic use, this can cause the “bad bacteria,” to overthrow the good bacteria causing yeast overgrowth, parasites, and other harmful invaders which can weaken the immune system (urgh!)
Having colonies of good bacteria (microflora) supports the colon and can assist with healthy transit time and elimination. Being backed up, is NO BUENO and makes you feel bogged down (literally).
Our health is basically determined by the function of your digestive system, so supplementing with a good quality probiotic is integral!
How to Choose a Probiotic
You must replenish microflora levels by taking it in a supplement form. Sorry but a daily serving of yogurt WON’T cut it!
Most people are use to taking Lactobacillus Probiotics. If you feel like your symptoms have not improved you may be taking the wrong strain of probiotic. There are three different types of probiotics listed below.
1. Lactic Acid Probiotics: Lactobacillus Acidophilus and Bifidobacterium. Has been shown to help support symptoms of IBS (diarhhea, constipation), SIBO (small intestinal overgrowth), as well as brain fog, weight loss, depression and blood sugar regulation
2. Fungal & Yeast Probiotics: Saccharomyes Boulardii is a normal part of microbiome. Has been shown to help support chrons disease, the clearance in h. pylori in the stomach and kill yeast (anti-fungal).
3. Probiotics Found in Soil: Bacillus Bacteria Known as soil based probiotics or soil based organism. They help support the gut and are remarkable, since they are produced in the soil and lack what is missing significantly in the diet for many.
Also, adding fermented foods to the diet can also help to support microflora levels such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha and gut shots .
Lastly, pay attention to what you are eating and how you body reacts after you consume certain foods. If you think a certain food is suspect, remove it for 4 weeks then try adding it back in. The most common suspect foods are gluten, dairy, corn and soy.
I hope this information helps and gets your digestive system flowing!