- Hannah Aylward
Top 8 Tips to Heal Your Digestion
Simple Tips to Improve Your Digestion
Bloating, discomfort, constipation - yikes. Unfortunately this is more common than not. Digestive issues are some of the most common that I see in my practice. Proper digestion is imperative for overall health. Think about it - we get almost all of our vitamins and nutrients from what we choose to eat.
The foods that we eat quite literally help form the cells and bacteria that make up our bodies. Pretty cool, right?
We aren’t just what we eat, we are what we digest and absorb. When the body is unable to properly digest food, we create inflammation and lose out on essential nutrients. What starts as a stomach ache can, over time, develop into a much larger issue.
Here are my top eight tips for a healthy digestive system every day:
1. Get Rid of Common Inflammation Triggers
There are a few foods/food groups that are known to cause digestive distress and big time inflammation. These foods include: gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, corn, soy, and peanuts. So what are you left to eat? All of the good stuff: vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, gluten-free grains and high-quality animal proteins. Removing these common trigger foods allows the digestive system to relax and heal. With this comes less fatigue, difficulty sleeping, brain fog, bloating, imbalance and excess weight. Try it. You’ll feel amazing.
2. Eat Real, Whole Foods with One Ingredient
This is the biggest thing that you can do to support your health. Focus on whole, fresh foods with one ingredient. Fresh broccoli is just that...broccoli. It’s not broccoli combined with random additives, dyes and preservatives. This is a food your body actually recognizes as food and can process well. Avoid processed, packaged, and fried foods. These are difficult to digest, with minimal benefits. Whole foods come in a beautiful package of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and fiber. Fiber helps keep everything moving. It also slows down digestion so glucose enters the bloodstream at a more even rate, preventing drastic blood sugar swings from occurring.
3. Drink More Water
Water helps the body digest soluble fiber, which helps make well-formed stools that are easy to pass. Water eases digestion by helping convert food into raw materials. This eases the transport of nutrients in and waste out of organ tissue. Proper hydration can also help prevent overeating (a digestive nightmare). Try drinking half your bodyweight (or more) in ounces of water per day. Increase this amount if you exercise, drink coffee or live in a hot climate. I love adding lemon and mint to my water for nice refreshing twist.
I know, I know it sounds super elementary, but most of us don’t actually do it! Chewing well eases the work required from the digestive system, and primes the body for digestion by signaling that food is on its way down. It’s time to practice mindful eating.
5. Increase Good Bacteria
Our bodies are filled with bacteria. Many say we are actually more bacteria than we are human cells. More and more research is showing that it is vitally important to keep good bacteria around, and decrease the harmful bacteria in our system. Fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, coconut kefir, etc) are high in good bacteria, which help the body fight invaders, improves nutrient absorption, and supports daily detoxification. Another way to increase good bacteria in the system is through a high-quality probiotic supplement. Probiotics are good bacteria and help strengthen the immune system, improve digestion and support nutrient absorption.
6. Manage Stress
Ah stress, it just messes with everything, doesn’t it? When you’re stressed, blood flow is redirected to the brain and limbs. It can actually cause your metabolism to slow down. Stress can also shut down digestion, leading to constipation, gas, bloating, stomach pain, and weight gain. Thank goodness for yoga, meditation and breathing exercises.
Meditation · Meditation to Relax & De-Stress
Breathwork · Nadi Shodhana Breath
7. Get Moving
You’d be surprised by how much this can help. When we exercise we decrease the time it takes to move food through the large intestine. Exercise also accelerates heart rate and breathing, which helps stimulate the natural contraction of intestinal muscles. Morning walks are my favorite. I aim for just 10-15 minutes each morning. This simple exercise gets my body moving, oxygen flowing to my brain, and sets a healthy and present tone for my entire day. It’s a total game changer. Not into walking? Try one of these flows below to start your day!
8. Try a Smoothie
Personally, I start every day with a smoothie. Smoothies are basically pre-digested meals that you can pack full of nutrition - protein, fiber, fat, hydration, anti-inflammatories, etc. They are also super quick and easy to make (very important). Having a morning smoothie is a gentle way to ease your digestive system into the day. Since it is blended, it is much easier to digest than solid food. Don’t be afraid to have one for dinner, either! If I’m particularly stressed or having to eat dinner really late, I’ll opt for a smoothie to give my digestive system a break.
Hannah Aylward is a Certified Health Coach, nutrition consultant, fitness instructor, healthy living expert, and founder of HAN. She helps both men and women around the world lose weight, heal skin disturbances, balance hormones, heal gut imbalances and feel at home in their bodies through healthy eating, movement, mindfulness and positive self-talk. Her goal is to help others “learn the tools that they need to live the lives they deserve”. Get to know her by visiting her website and following her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Login or Start Your 14-Day Free Trial & Begin Your Practice for Life.
Image via Shutterstock