Chew Chew Chew!
Chewing your food initiates the digestion process. Not only does chewing your food at least 30 times per bite break the food apart, but chewing also liquifies your food and allows enzymes in your mouth and stomach to more easily break it down into its nutritious components. For example, Amylase is an enzyme in the mouth that breaks down starches from foods like rice and potatoes into chemicals that get converted to glucose which provides the body energy. So the longer you chew, the more that these enzymes are able to properly convert our food into useful resources that our body can utilize.
We, in America, tend to eat food quickly and don’t focus on chewing or savoring our meals. Chew, chew, chew! If you start chewing your food, your downstream digestive track works more efficiently and you will have better digestion overall.
Avoid Processed Foods & Sugars
Our Standard American Diet (also known as the “SAD” diet) consists of packaged processed food, bleached flours, and sugar that lack the necessary enzymes for proper digestion. The SAD diet also lacks a variety of food combinations which can lead to nutrient deficiencies that affect digestion. A meal balanced with a combination of protein, good fats, and carbohydrates help optimize nutrient absorption.
Avoid Eating While Stressed
Stress has a significant impact on proper digestion. Think back, do you lose your appetite whenever you are in a stressful moment? Do you ever run to salty or sugary foods when you are stressed? When we are stressed, our bodies don’t want to focus on digestion, we enter “fight or flight” mode, and the body tries to just “survive the day.” Finding a moment of peace prior to food consumption has shown positive effects on your body’s ability to digest food and absorb nutrients. We need to step away from the TV, turn the radio off, and sit together when consuming meals. All of this impacts how well we absorb food.
As mentioned above, we need to chew our food until it has become a liquid before swallowing. Proper hydration also impacts digestions. See our article on “The 10 Commandments Of Hydration” to learn the proper ways to optimize your drinking habits. You can also drink mineral water with meals. Minerals generally need stomach acid and fat for absorption so this helps pull those elements through our body. Consuming mineral water with meals will increase your nutrient absorption.
Eat Fresh Food; Avoid Dairy, Red Meat, & Gluten
Eat fresh, whole foods whenever possible. Foods naturally contain enzymes and fiber which are crucial for digestion. Decrease your intake of dairy, red meat and gluten as they all inflame the body and the GI system.
Supplement When Necessary
Sometimes our body’s need some extra to get back on the right track. Adding digestive enzymes and probiotics can help give our digestive systems a boost and immediately get it back on track to proper digestion. Peppermint oil is a natural antispasmodic which means it can help relax intestinal smooth muscle by blocking calcium influx into the muscle cells. It also supports the movement of food through your intestines and stimulates the flow of bile.