There are so many great diets out there—from the paleo diet to the vegan diet. They are so awesome that people become zealous about them. They feel better, they look better, and they suddenly have tons of energy and good digestion.
That said, just because one person may have gotten great results following a diet, it may not work for the next person. We all have different constitutions, conditions, genes, and dietary needs. But regardless of which diet will end up working for you, there are four things that anyone can start doing today to improve digestion: exercise, stop overeating, chew thoroughly, and remove processed foods from their diet.
Digestion is a huge topic in the world of health. Not everyone actually suffers from clear indigestion (heartburn, constipation, the runs, gas), but many conditions will change or even disappear with improved digestion.
Conditions like back pain, poor skin, thyroid issues, autoimmune diseases, and even depression can be caused by indigestion. In fact, some people never even experience indigestion at all, but as soon as they take the steps they need to take to heal their gut, their actual symptoms clear up.
Exercise helps digestion tremendously. When you move enough, you will be able to handle refined sugars and carbohydrates more effectively because exercise uses the energy up, and stops the sugar, or at least some of it, from turning into fat.
It takes strong muscles to move food through our digestive tracks, so when you improve the muscle tone all around your abdomen, food will be digested more easily.
The next “simple” tip is to stop overeating. I know that this is easier said than done, but next time you are going for seconds, pause for a minute and think about whether that second serving is worth the potential indigestion.
It is a huge strain on our digestive system to try to process and utilize all the nutrients from a large amount of food at once. I love the image my 8-year-old daughter gave me, after we were questioning her appetite for more food: “Mommy, I have a few empty inches left in my stomach, I promise I will stop when I only have one inch left.” This is a great way to determine when to stop: How full are you? Can you measure it?
It has now become common knowledge that it takes about 20 minutes for the message that we are full to kick in. This is a big problem for fast eaters, because fast eaters often end up accidentally overeating. So in order to help you stop overeating, start chewing your food.
Chewing food, regardless of the type of food you eat, will help improve digestion simply because the first part of the digestive process is a mechanical breakdown of food via the chewing process.
Plus chewing will help make you more aware of what you are ingesting. I once took a group through a mindful eating exercise with Hershey’s chocolate kisses and one of the women in the group decided that she would never be able to eat a Hershey’s kiss again because it tasted like baby vomit (sorry about the vile description) to her.
Mindful eating will always lower stress as you eat, help you enjoy your meal more, and make you more aware about when you are actually satisfied—not full or stuffed.
Finally, regardless of the food combination, or groups of food ratios you choose to eat, cutting out processed foods will inevitably improve your digestion. When we eat processed foods instead of whole foods, our bodies have to work harder to actually digest it. It takes our own energy and nutritional sources to break the food down, but those nutrients don’t get replaced when we eat processed foods because they have been stripped from the food. This can cause a whole host of digestive issues.
So start exercising, eating the right amount of food, chewing, and cutting out processed foods today, and you’ll start feeling better right away.
Tysan Lerner is a certified health coach and personal trainer. She helps women attain their body and beauty goals without starving themselves or spending hours at the gym. Her website iswww.lavendermamas.com