Tips and Tricks for Better Digestion

Digestion | | November 5, 2009 at 8:00 am

Photo by Sjdunphy.

Sunday dinners with my Italian-American family always included aunts, great aunts, countless cousins and my grandmother, yelling from the stove while stirring her sauce. We gathered around her table, feasting for hours on the generous servings she produced from the kitchen. While my grandmother’s cooking will always hold a special place in my stomach, it’s also been known to leave me with what us Italians called agita, or heartburn. As I grew older, I learned a few tricks to keep enjoying grandma’s cooking!

How we eat

Mangia bene, vivi felice” as my grandmother would say! Eat well, live happy!

We learned from Dr. Gibran that the environment in which we eat shapes how our bodies will react to what we put in them. Enjoying our meals in a relaxed, slow paced manner is just what our digestive organs love! When we engage in irregular eating patterns, or rushed meals, it throws off homeostasis and creates intestinal ruckus.

A few tricks to keep eating what you love

  • Consider the Japanese style of eating, Hari Hachi Bu, where folks eat only until they’re 80 % full. Smaller portions will ensure your ability to absorb the highest nutritional value possible without your digestive system doing much work.
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals to spark metabolism and keep you feeling energetic all day long. This style of eating balances the glycemic index, significantly decreasing your chances of developing diabetes. Still having trouble with portion control? Trick your brain into thinking you’re eating more by cutting your food into tiny pieces. Display your colorful veggies fanned or spread out around the plate to create an effect of abundance. You’ll still consume a healthy portion and feel satisfied.
  • Add a little extra fiber to increase intestinal mobility. Lentils, beans, green leafy veggies, nuts, and seeds are great choices to get you started. Just remember: for about every 5 grams of fiber you add, follow up with about 8 ounces of fluid to keep from feeling full and bloated.
  • Relax and focus on the food before you rather than activity around you. Enjoy the experience of eating and savor the taste.

Still need extra help? Digestive enzymes

Digestive enzymes are special enzymes that allow us to absorb nutrients while eliminating the waste components from our food. The common modern diet can be stressful, calling upon higher than usual amounts of digestive enzymes to be secreted. Eventually, the pancreas (responsible for enzyme secretion) becomes fatigued, needing our help. Supplementing with digestive enzymes can alleviate intestinal sluggishness and help common complaints such as heartburn, GERD, bloating, and belching. Ask your naturopathic physician or Chinese medical provider to suggest one that fits your digestion.

Want to eat your enzymes? Try adding the following to your diet

  • Spices: ginger, cinnamon, spearmint, garlic, and peppermint
  • Fruits and veggies: pineapple, papaya, Chinese dates, seaweed and rhubarb

On the go remedies

Need a quick natural way to safely settle your stomach on the go? Keep my favorite, personally tested remedies on you at all times!

  • Nux Vomica: homeopathic remedy used for overeating or drinking. Great for belching, bloating, nausea and vomiting
  • Alka-Seltzer Gold: this alkaline combo of sodium bi-carbonate, citric acid, and potassium bi-carbonate quickly alleviates bloating and that all too cloudy feeling described as the ‘food coma.’ Great if you’ve accidentally eaten something you’re sensitive or allergic to
  • Ginger, peppermint and cinnamon tea: boil water, add herbs and sip. Voila, your cramping stomach will begin settling in minutes

Probiotics, the army in the digestive system

You’ve all heard of beneficial bacteria, sometimes referred to as healthy intestinal flora. These healthy bacteria, probiotics, are the infantry soldiers of your digestive army. Their job is to maintain order and keep harmful bacteria and other invaders from permeating the digestive lining.

If our healthy levels of bacteria have been diminished, invaders are now allowed to freely pass through the digestive walls. This possibly creates GI disturbance, weakened immunity, and a pre-disposition to other diseases. If beneficial bacteria are allowed to thrive, the digestive lining will remain protected from invaders and prevent unwanted illness.

Proper digestion

  • Reduces risk for several types of cancers including stomach, pancreatic and colon
  • Promotes proper hormone production and regulation
  • Balances the glycemic index allowing for healthy weight maintenance
  • Increases nutrient absorption to enhance health and prevent disease
  • Reduces and eliminates reflux issues, indigestion, gas bloating
  • Reduces auto-immune issues and chronic fatigue related issues
  • Reduces overt signs and symptoms of clinical depression and anxiety
  • Reduces the appearance of cellulite!

Great digestion is your meal ticket to optimal overall wellness!

ChristineChristine M. Dionese L.Ac. specializes in integrative medicine, medical journalism and was the VP of marketing at WellWire LLC. Visit her wellness and lifestyle blog, Reaching Beyond Now.

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1 Comment

  1. Meghs says:

    That’s interesting information! I agree with the tips:)

    Thanks so much:)