Digestion problems are no fun. Bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea…
These are all signs of a digestion system in distress. Impaired digestion is at the root of many health issues. Without a well-functioning digestive system, the body struggles to pass along nutrients to our cells. So what can you do about it? The good news is that it doesn’t take a massive overhaul to improve digestion— often we just need some fine tuning. Whether you’re interested in optimizing your health or you’re struggling with poor digestion, try implementing these simple changes.
1. Chew your food.
The mechanical action of chewing is the body’s first step in the digestive process. This movement stimulates the secretion of digestive enzymes critical for the breakdown of food. If food is more thoroughly broken down upstream, it creates less work downstream in the stomach and intestines. Chewing will also make nutrients more readily absorbable for uptake by your cells. Some health professionals have cited a rule to chew your food 32 times; while this may seem extreme, just being conscious of chewing more thoroughly will aid in the overall process.
2. Increase Stomach Acid.
Proteins are primarily digested in the stomach and require acid for complete breakdown. If there isn’t enough acid, proteins enter the small intestine in the form of larger particles, resulting in issues like bloating, gas and reflux. To increase stomach acid, try adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to a glass of water before a protein rich meal. Do your best to avoid refined sugar, processed foods and alcohol which are known to deplete your valuable stomach acid.
3. Add Probiotics.
If I could only take one supplement a day, it would be a probiotic. Probiotics are live microorganisms that restore “good” intestinal bacteria. The right ratio of good-to-bad bacteria is necessary for effective digestion and stimulating the gut’s immune system. Probiotics maximize your body’s ability to extract nutrients from the food you consume. At Parsley, our go-to probiotic for daily maintenance is Prescript Assist, a soil-based probiotic which conveniently doesn’t need to be refrigerated. If you’re looking for alternatives, make sure to get a broad spectrum probiotic that has strains of both lactobacillus and bifidobacterum.
4. Fire Up the Blender.
Blended foods require less energy from your digestive system. For example, a piece of chicken needs to be broken down into amino acids in order to be utilized as food for our cells. This takes a lot of work. I recommend giving your system a break by replacing one meal a day with a low glycemic smoothie. The key is to make sure you’re getting adequate amounts of protein, fat and fiber to feel satiated and balance your blood sugar.
My go-to recipe for a complete, digestion-friendly meal:
- 1 serving of Rebuild Protein (26 grams of protein!)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon of ground flax
- 1/2 cup of blueberries
- 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk – I like Native Forest Simple Coconut Milk
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk