The occasional bout of gas, acid reflux, stomach cramping, or bloating may not be enough to cause you to think much about the health of your digestive system.
But it should, and here’s why.
Proper digestion, breakdown and absorption, of foods, and elimination of waste is your KEY to health.
Your digestive system is literally the foundation of your physical “house” a.k.a. your body.
When your digestive system is healthy, your whole body has more opportunity to be healthy.
BUT, when you digestive system is not healthy, there is no way you will have optimal health.
And what is worse is that so many people try to heal symptoms in other areas of their body when they have on-going digestive symptoms. If you aren’t healing those digestive symptoms first, the natural treatments you are using to treat the other areas of the body, won’t do as much for you. Or if they do make your symptoms go away, people often find, they can’t get off the supplement or drug, otherwise the symptoms come back.
That is because your digestive system isn’t doing its job at 100%!
So let’s focus on how you can improve your digestion, and get the foundation of your physical body in tip-top shape!
I am just going to throw this out there anyway. In all my clinical practice, I have yet to meet someone that doesn’t need some level of digestive healing.
What does normal digestion look like?
You should poop no less than once a day. Some folks will poop 2-3 times a day. I find 1-2 times a day a good average to shoot for to get your digestive system in good shape. Your stools should be well formed and easy to pass. They are not too soft that you end up with a ton of small stool in the toilet, and they are not so hard that you end up with balls or little logs all floating around in the toilet.
Check out this awesome bristol stool chart: You want to shoot for Type 4-5
You should experience none or limited gas and bloating. If there is a food that you know triggers gas & bloating, then that is to be expected when you eat it. But you should not experience these symptoms on a daily basis (unless you are eating that food, which you should stop!).
Food should not sit in your stomach and cause belching, indigestion or reflux. Again, if this happens occasionally, it can often be traced to a food. But if this happens weekly or daily, you’ve got some healing to do.
Basically, what you should notice about your digestive system is that you eat delicious tasting food, it goes down, there are little to no symptoms, and you poop on a daily basis!
Over 60 million people in the US are affected by digestive diseases. Which is crazy because this doesn’t even include people who have regular digestive upset, that will one day likely lead to a digestive disease if it is just ignored or palliated with over the counter medications like antacids or laxatives.
Here’s the take away:
You can’t just treat your digestive symptoms & expect that having them temporarily go away is actually doing anything good for you.
Allergies, Asthma, Skin Conditions or Other Immune Issues
Do you suffer from any of the above?
Seasonal allergies are common.
Asthma, including exercise induced asthma, can be debilitating.
Skin conditions that just won’t go away no matter what you do?
Are you the person that gets sick when everyone else does? Do you regularly have more than 1-2 colds a year?
Do you use antibiotics regularly?
Over 70% of your immune system lives in your gut. Why? Because your gut, the tube that runs from your mouth to your anus, is essentially one long tube “open” to the external environment. This is why your stomach is loaded with Hydrochloric acid- to kill stuff.
So if 70% of your immune system lives in your gut, and you experience immune symptoms, such as those listed above, you know what? You have some digestive healing to do!
10 Tips to Heal Your Digestive System Naturally:
1. Chew your food thoroughly!
Chewing breaks down your food and partially liquefies it, making it easier to digest, easing many stomach problems. Saliva contains digestive enzymes, so the longer you chew the more time these enzymes have to start breaking down your food! Salivary amylase is one of the first enzymes to break down carbohydrates/sugars.
When large particles of improperly chewed food enter your stomach, it may remain undigested when it enters your intestines where it will putrefy, potentially leading to gas and bloating, diarrhea, and other digestive distress.
If you have these symptoms, simply start with paying attention to how much you chew. It can make a world of difference and is such a super simple first-line strategy.
Are you chewing 5 bites, then swallowing? This is no good. Let’s shoot for 20 chews per bite. Which may seem impossible at first, but with some attention and practice, you can get there.
2. Drink water before a meal
When you have a glass of water 30 minutes before your meal, you kick off mucus production in your stomach. This mucus lining—which is mostly made up of water—protects your stomach tissue from the enzymes and acid also found in the stomach. Making sure your mucous lining is hydrated prior to eating reduces your chance for heartburn.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Minimize the amount of water (or any fluid for that mater) that you drink WITH a meal- this actually dilutes digestive juices such as hydrochloric acid and pancreatic enzymes!! And you will have poor digestive function.
3. Add fermented foods: benefits of probiotics
Your small intestine and colon (large intestine) are teeming with literally trillions of microorganisms. When you eat a lot of grains, sugars, and processed foods, your intestinal flora can get out of balance as these foods feed the “bad bacteria.”
That can contribute to a host of chronic health issues, including digestive symptoms, chronic fatigue, food sensitivities, skin conditions, brain fog, immune challenges and so much more.
This is a win-win. You flood your body with healthy probiotics regularly (ideally with each meal). Then you support your digestive system and your immune system. Yes please!
You can read tons more about fermented foods and the benefits of probiotics.
4. Consider supplements—digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid and probiotics
Found in your saliva, stomach, and small intestine, digestive enzymes are chemical “scissors” produced by your body to help you break down food. There are specific ones for fats, proteins, carbohydrates, dairy, and so on. Once you hit your 30s your internal production of these complex molecules starts to slow. To boost your digestive health, consider supplementing with a high-quality digestive enzyme.
The pH of our stomach is low- about a 1. This serves an amazing purpose. It kills off any potential pathogens that may harm us. Too many people suffer with acid reflux not from too much acid, but often because of the lower esophageal sphincter inappropriately relaxing and allowing for the flow of stomach acid, from the stomach back up into the esophagus.
This often occurs because of too little acid.
Acid is also important for key nutrients such as B12 and iron to be absorbed.
You may need a HCl product if you have digestive symptoms. To test this out, you may try putting 1 tablespoon of raw Apple Cider Vinegar in 16 ounces of water and drinking it first thing when you wake up. You may notice, as many people have, that this actually reduces acid reflux and helps improve digestive health.
If you haven’t jumped on the fermented food band-wagon, a probiotic supplement may be the right thing for you. They keep your pH levels set-up for digestion and absorption, and out of the acidic range that many less friendly bacteria and yeast thrive in. When the food moves from the stomach to the small intestine, a rise in pH occurs, probiotics can assist this in happening, so that more and more of the good bugs thrive!
The most commonly known probiotics available in supplement form are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
Curious which supplements are good ones? Want 6 more digestive health tips? Click Below
Your Wellness Expert,