Tips to improve digestion and have a healthy intestine.
Updated: Dec 11, 2018
Considered the body second brain, the intestine regulates many functions and reactions in the body, that’s why in order to reach an optimal health is important to have a healthy gut.
The health of your gastrointestinal system is determined by the levels and types of bacteria in your digestive tract and an imbalance between beneficial and harmful bacteria results in gut dysbiosis which leads to several health conditions not only related to the G.I tract.
This imbalance causes a damage to the mucosal layer of the intestine which becomes permeable allowing food protein to enter the blood stream (leaky gut syndrome). When this happen, the immune systems activates causing inflammation, food sensitivities, autoimmune diseases and many other symptoms throughout the whole body including the brain.
New studies showed that digestive dysfunction and gut issues may also lead to memory problems,affect thinking skills and other cognitive functions as well as cause anxiety and depression.
What creates this imbalance in our body is connected to our lifestyle which includes what we eat and how do we live our life.
What we eat is really important. Food before to became calories and so energies has to go through a process called digestion.
Digestion is a natural process that starts in our bodies even before to eat something.
The first phase of digestion starts already when the signal of hunger crosses our body and sharpens our senses. This is called cephalic phase and begins with the thought of food, its smell and look.
The enzymatic actions that happen during digestion facilitate food breakdown, allowing the body to use food as energy and obtain valuable nutrients. There are different factors that may affect our digestion and these are related to what we eat, how we eat and the environment around us.
Here few tips on how to improve your digestion and reduce or even eliminate all the annoying symptoms of an unhealthy gut such as bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, heartburn, gas etc.
These little steps helped me a lot in order to mitigate and eliminate Ulcerative Colitis symptoms.
1. Eat mindfully
Are you staying with your head down on the phone while “enjoying” your meal?
Are you having meals on the go in between train stations?
Is your lunch break that short that you throw the food down your throat without even chew?
Eating too fast and without paying attention to the food that goes from your plate into your mouth can really affect your digestion in negative ways.
Try to think when was last time that you sat around the table for lunch or dinner and really enjoyed each bite without any distractions. Learning how to eat mindfully is much more satisfying and it may solve many digestive issues.
Food doesn’t have to be just your “fuel”, has to be enjoyable and to really appreciate what you eating you should be conscious while doing it.
Some studies have also shown that mindful eating may reduce digestive symptoms in people with Ulcerative Colitis, IBD and IBS.
You can practice mindful eating in different ways and slowly find what works best for you.
Here few simple tips:
Eat slowly, feel the flavours and pay attention to the texture of the food in your mouth each bite.
Notice the smell, look at the food in your plate and take few seconds to appreciate it before to start.
Stop multitasking, turn off the tv and put away the phone, emails and messages can wait 30 minutes.
Chew carefully, put the cutlery down on the table and wait to swallow the food before to take another bite.
Eat only when hungry and not mentally or physically stressed.
2. Chew well.
Have you ever counted how many times do you chew each bite?
The digestive process begins in the mouth with the secretion of digestive enzymes. The masticating action breaks the fibers, releasing nutrients that can be absorbed by the body. In our mouth we have an enzyme called Ptyalin, necessary for digesting starches. Hurried eating, or eating when tired so without chewing carefully, tend to result in the swallowing of unchewed food, creating digestive problems.
There is many theories on how many times we should chew each kind of food.
Soft fruits and vegetables are easier to digest and can be chewed less while starchy vegetables, grains and protein food (plant-based and animal-based) requires longer time.
I like to sit, enjoy my food, appreciate each bite and chew carefully, sometimes even 60-70 times but on average at least 30 times is enough.
Counting how many times you chew it also helps to be present and eat mindfully.
Chewing well enhance digestion and keeps you full for longer. This will avoid you to go looking for something to eat straight after your meal.
3. Food combining.
This theory is based on the idea that certain foods don’t digest well when consumed during the same meal.
Although there isn’t much research to back up this concept, some may find they feel better when they follow this way of eating.
After several years with Ulcerative Colitis, having a healthy gut has been the ultimate goal and while researching about food combining, I found many different theories that were really conflicting. I personally feel that there is more to learn about it in order to know the truth, but I am convinced that certain foods combined with others, in some people create discomfort.
For instance, I have personally noticed that eating fruit after a cooked meal doesn’t help my digestion and so I prefer to consume it only in the morning for breakfast.
According to the concept of food combining, proteins and high-starch foods should not be eaten together, but each can be combined with greens and low-starch vegetables.
Fruits should be eaten only on empty stomach and far from cooked meals but they can be combined with greens.
5. Be hydrated.
Taken in its pure form, water assist in the transport and elimination of toxins.
Water also softens stool, which helps prevent constipation and it help digestion, drinking water is vital for the human body and we should drink it enough throughout the day.
Although we should consume on average 2 litres of water a day, the amount that is considered enough it may vary depending on different factors such as body weight, activities carried out during the day, outside temperature, health condition etc.
Drinking water at least 30 minutes before a meal it may aid digestion but drinking plenty of water during meals can have the opposite effect as it will dilute the digestive juices and it may interfere with the digestion.
Having the habit of drinking a lot of water during meals it will prevent you to chew properly as you will most likely rely on water in order to completely swallow the food and this can disturb the correct digestion.
6. Drink plain celery juice on an empty stomach.
This is the one thing that if you start doing it I am sure it will completely change your life. Within a week you can already start seeing progress on your digestion and overall health.
Because of its simplicity, many times celery juice is underestimated, while is truly a miracle juice. It is highly beneficial and efficient in healing the gut, promote good digestion and is beneficial for the whole body.
Celery juice is alkalizing, rich of enzymes, electrolytes, helps detoxifying the liver, helps to balance the blood sugar levels and much more.
Drinking celery juice is most powerful when you drink it alone, a glass of celery juice with an empty stomach, enhance the production of hydrochloric acid ,which is critical to digestion and to keeping your digestive system alkaline.
Celery juice is also a strong natural anti-inflammatory, full of vitamins and minerals that will help soothing the inflammation in the gut.
7. Eat fibers from whole foods.
Most of western diets nowadays are largely deficient in basic nutrients and minerals, this can be a major factor in the development of digestive disorders.
Packaged foods full of chemicals, fried foods and an excess in animal products made our diets really poor in fibers which are essential for proper digestion.
Fibers provides bulk which allows the peristaltic wave to move digested food towards elimination and without sufficient fibers, the intestinal muscles have to overwork creating excessive stress that cause digestive issues.
Fibers are also really important because absorbs the toxins and eliminate them from the body.
In order to increase the amount of fibers in your diet rely on natural whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes and reduce or eliminate refined sugars, white flours and animal products.
These are just few little changes that you can implement in your everyday life in order to improve your digestion and your gut health.
If all at once it may seems overwhelming don't worry, take one step at the time from the place that is most comfortable for you.
Some more things you can do in order to improve your digestive health is exercising and stretching as well as massaging your belly or placing an hot water bottle on it while laying in bed.
Probiotics can be used but make sure to find a good brand that works well for you.
Sleeping well also promote gut health.
Stress also play an important role, so make sure to conduct a lifestyle that match your expectations and it doesn’t cause you to stress but it gives you happiness and satisfaction.
A Healthier Digestive System Means a Healthier You.
“The road to health is paved with good intestines” DR. Sherry A. Rogers