So I love talking about digestion, almost as much as I enjoy talking about poo …almost!
Thankfully for you, this post is not directly about poo but about how you can get your digestion in a happier place. As it is the key to sorting out your health is a long term, real and lasting way.
But most of the time when we talk about digestion we talk about what you are eating and while that is all good there are some fabulous non-food things you can do to help boost and soothe a potentially grumpy digestion.
So click to watch the video below or scroll down if you prefer to read!
And NEWS ALERT if you are struggling with digestion in any way, if your belly is more ballistic than beautiful then I am running FREE 7- day challenge called the Belly Bliss Bootcamp!
4 (Non-Food) Ways To Optimise Digestion
The four things that I am going to share with you have nothing to do with food. Obviously, the food that you eat plays a very important part in your digestion but today I am just focusing on the non-food element which can be JUST as important.
If you have some real digestive struggles, maybe it’s reflux, bloating or you always feel uncomfortable after eating it can be overwhelming tackling the whole aspect of your diet in one go. I recommend starting with these four things. They are a really helpful place for you to begin to make some healthy changes in a sustainable way, and I am all about making sustainable steps. Small sustainable steps can be sexy! You don’t have to go all in and change everything overnight.
Let’s get too it….
1. Chew chew chew
Chewing is your first mechanical part of your digestion, it is where you take in food and start to break it down by adding liquid to it to increase the surface area so you can absorb the minerals. You may be like me, I am a one, two, three chew and swallow it back whatever the size type girl, and trust me it is not doing your stomach and digestion any favors.
Often information out there will say “I highly recommend you chew around 20 or 30 times” and I am sure that is really good for your body but I know for me it is slightly unrealistic because it means your meals are going to take 3 hours to eat. So what I recommend you do is at your next meal, count how many times on average you chew before you swallow and then aim to double it. For me, I aim to go for about 10 chews per mouthful.
A strategy that I use to really help has been putting the food in my mouth, then I put my knife and fork down, chew, and once that is swallowed I pick my knife and fork up for another mouthful. It can slow things down but it really helps to optimize your digestion. As you chew not only are you mechanically breaking down the food in your mouth but you have some digestive enzymes that are released in your saliva. This means that if you really chew well you are allowing those enzymes to really get to work.
We also don’t want to gulp down our food either because often we can gulp down extra air too which can lead to bloating, gas, wind or burping later on.
Chewing is free. It is simple. We can all do it and it can make a massive difference to your digestion.
2. Don’t drink lots of liquid with your meals
I am a big fan of staying hydrated so please don’t take this as a ‘“don’t drink any water’. But what most people do is they don’t drink anything throughout the day but then get to mealtimes and chug down a couple of pints of water with their meal.
Why is this a problem? Because by adding liquid you are diluting the stomach acid and digestive enzymes concentration within the stomach reducing its efficiency. You’re basically making your digestion work harder and as most people have too little stomach acid further diluting it just makes matters worse.
Half an hour before your meals have a really big long drink of what you need and then don’t aim to drink a large amount of water, tea or whatever for a good hour after your meal just to give your stomach acid and digestive enzymes a chance to work.
3. Be intentional about resting and de-stress
When you are stressed, you don’t produce that much stomach acid because your body is thinking “Well I am being chased by a bear so why would I need to digest anything right now?”
Whether it is emotional stressed, something at work or at home, or you are on the go all the time and can’t seem to wind down, always alert and wired, getting intentional about resting and de-stressing is so important. Some people might go for prayer or meditation but you need something daily to anchoring you down into your breath and into that calm space.
I sometimes use apps like Headspace or Calm which I love, or just breathing intentionally for 10 minutes whilst listening to my pulse, practice yoga, prayer, meditation, walk slowly in parks or sing really loudly – but find what works for you! But this one thing could make a HUGE crazy difference to your digestion and health in general – so just do it.
4. Supplement your stomach acid production
This is not something I probably recommend you just do on your own on a whim but you can get stomach acid supplements that can really help with digestion. If your stomach acid is low or impaired in some way then you are really going to struggle with digestion. Stomach acid (called HCL or Betaine in supplement form) needs to get to a certain set point in order to trigger your digestive enzymes and other reactions as part of your digestion. So it is really important that your stomach acid is happy. When doing this work with a nutritional therapist, health coach or someone like me that can help guide you through that process. I have seen with my clients that with the right symptoms supplementing their stomach acid can have a real impact on their digestion.
Also getting quality digestive enzymes can also do wonders for many people – I like this Terra Nova brand but there are many good versions out there too.
And easy and gentle way to support stomach acid is to consume 1-2 tbsp of raw apple cider vinegar in a small amount of water before each meal. This is a great way to start and help improve the acidity of your stomach
Those are the four different ways that you can optimize digestion. You have chewing, not drinking lots with your meals, being intentional with your rest and de-stressing and supplementing your stomach acid with a practitioner if appropriate. They are pretty simple, super effective and are (mostly) completely free.
Let me know your questions below, have a brilliant day and remember to chew, chew, chew!