Tips to Improve Digestion
Most of us should improve our digestion. Indigestion, heartburn, dyspepsia, acid reflux – just a few names given to the discomfort experienced by around 40% of the population on a regular basis and most of us from time to time, so it makes sense to try to improve digestion. If you do frequently suffer, it’s worth a trip to the doctor to ensure that it’s nothing more sinister, but everyone should follow these basic rules: –
WAYS TO IMPROVE DIGESTION
- Food quality: Always remember the reason for eating: to provide fuel for your body so that you have energy for thinking, walking and talking to the more energetic activities throughout the day. Eating good quality, nutritious food is essential for the healthy functioning of the body and indigestion is definitely not a sign of good health. Overcooked, poorly prepared, low quality junk food lacks the enzymes essential for good digestion.
- Food combining: Different foods have different digestion times and require different digestive enzymes. Eating too many types of foods at one mealtime – for example, proteins with grains, fats and sugars – can cause indigestion time (think brunch – when was the last time you actually felt good afterwards?). Eating the right food combinations not only helps improve digestion, but can also increase energy, regulate elimination and help relieve depression, anxiety and mood swings. Fruits take the least amount of time to digest which is why they make the ideal snack between meals. Although food combinations won’t affect everyone, if you do struggle with indigestion, it’s worth looking into this subject more deeply and trying to eat more simply.
- Take your time: Meals are often rushed, particularly breakfast and lunch. Many of us “eat on the hoof”, rushing around working or getting ourselves together before we leave the house, having a mouthful of food between tasks. Even if we sit to eat, many eat at their desk whilst working or we eat too fast and then get up immediately afterwards to rush around again. Eating and digestion require energy and if that energy is being diverted elsewhere your digestive system cannot work efficiently and food will not be processed very well. This is why you should not participate in any vigorous exercise for about 3 hours after a meal.
- Don’t eat too much: Good advice for weight loss too and this goes hand in hand with the above. If you take care of portion control and eat slowly, you will be better able to listen to your body and know when you are full. It takes about 20 minutes for the brain to register a full stomach and remember that chewing food is part of the digestive process.
- Don’t eat just before bedtime: Just from a common sense point of view, if you eat and go straight to bed, you no longer have gravity to help your food go down. Try to eat your main meal earlier in the day and keep the evening meal light – this is where food combining is a useful tool. A small piece of fish and a salad is easy and relatively quick for the body to digest so ideal for an evening meal. It’s quick to prepare, too, after a day at work.
- Practice yoga: The combination of asana, heat, hydration and breathing supports a healthy digestive system. Yoga helps move waste and toxins through the colon. Practice forward bends and twists to help stimulate the digestive tract.
- Spices: In Ayurvedic tradition, spices help make food more digestible by “predigesting” the food during cooking. Great spices to enhance digestion include black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, licorice, and turmeric. Try some traditional Indian Masala Chai!
Practice Pada Sanchalanasana to help improve digestion, strengthen the digestive system, relieve constipation, tone the abdominals and support the spine. Taken from Pawanmuktasana 2, part of the course Pranayama: Breathe your way to Health & Wellbeing