5 Simple Rules to Improve Your Digestion
There are many people out there (and I used to be one of them) that couldn’t digest a tic-tac to save their lives. After meals they feel sluggish, bloated, gassy and overall not well for an hour or two. Ususally symptoms settle down just in time for the next meal. Sometimes the digestively-challenged just ignore and bear the symptoms, sometimes they refer to that (not-so) amazing source of information called the internet, and they end up swallowing all sorts of expensive products like digestive enzymes, digestive bitters or probiotics. These may or may not help depending on the problem. I would like to share what seems to be for most people a large part of the problem and the solution. It doesn’t cost anything and it’s easy. If your digestive symptoms continue after following these rules diligently, then you may need more focused help form a professional health care provider.
Chew your food! Very simple: chew until there is nothing left to chew! Digestion starts in your mouth, mechanically and chemically. If you are chomping each bite in half and swallowing chunks you are not properly preparing your food to be digested. The importance of chewing properly cannot be overstated. Is it boring? Does it take long? Until you get used to it, yes. Get over it ;)
Don’t drink during meals (and 30-45 min before or after meals). Generally, liquids dilute your digestive juices and increase your stomach’s pH level. The exact opposite is what you need to digest properly. I know what your thinking: “my friend always drinks during meals and they have no issues!” Listen, George Burns smoked cigars until age 100 and never developed cancer - what can I say? People are different and some have stronger bodily systems than others. The important thing is for you to identify your weaknesses and support them.
Don’t eat distracted! If you are checking your phone or having a juicy conversation during your meal, you will probably forget to chew properly. If you are not accustomed to chewing enough, you are more likely to fall back on old habits if you are not paying attention. Focus on each bite. Eat first, text later.
Relax! If you are excited or emotional during your meal, your sympathetic nervous system will be too active to let your digestive system do its thing properly - relax! Take a few deep relaxing breaths and focus on your meal. Most meals can be eaten properly in 5-10 min. Eat them in peace.
Don’t eat late at night. Leave at least 3 hours between your last meal and your bedtime.
Follow these rules as strictly as possible and evaluate the results after a week. Did your symptoms improve? It’s entirely possible that it’s actually your habits and behaviour related to eating that is a large part of the problem. Something to chew on ;)