9 Natural Methods to Improve Digestion

By peacefulgut | Digestion

Jun 17

Digestion is like our inner furnace, breaking down food while destroying harmful bacteria and parasites. Poor digestive function often leads to fermentation of food in the gut, causing gas, bloating, and stomach pain. Fortunately, there are effective, natural methods to restore and improve digestion.

An effective digestive system is a requirement for a strong and healthy body, free from discomfort and illness. When this inner furnace burns too low, over time, ailments and discomfort tend to arise in the body. Common symptoms include nutrient deficiencies, fatigue, stomach discomfort, weakened immune response, infection, insufficient recovery from exercise, depression, cognitive difficulties, low libido, and hormonal imbalances.

Digestion serves 2 primary functions:

  1. Break down food: reduce food to smaller components, which can be absorbed by the body and used for energy and as building blocks.
  2. Destroy pathogens: kill harmful bacteria, parasites, and fungi that can be found in the food we eat.

Given the many thousands of reactions needed to perform these two tasks daily, it is quite remarkable that this process usually works so efficiently. But when it does not function optimally, difficulties can arise.

If your body has a lack of enzymes or gastric acid, partially digested food can build up in the intestinal tract causing gas, which can cause bloating and stomach pain. So, how do we know if our digestive system is weakened?

Common symptoms of poor digestion:

  • Recurring stomach discomfort.
  • Difficulty digesting fats and meats.
  • Frequent stomach bloat or severe gas.
  • Nutrient deficiency or unexplained weight loss.
  • Undigested food remnants after elimination.
  • Upset stomach or fatty, greasy bowel movements.

The more of the above items that apply to you, the greater the chance that you have digestive deficiencies. As we will discuss later, the addition of enzymes and gastric acid could help alleviate stomach discomfort.

Insufficiently Digested Food Ferments, Producing Gas

When digestion is poor, there is a high risk that food is being insufficiently broken down. Then, the body can’t extract essential nutrients. It is as if there is can of nutrient rich food in your stomach, but your body lacks an opener to access the food. The food the body requires is there, but as long as the can is closed, the body can’t break it down and absorb essential nutrients.

But when the unopened can moves from the small intestine into the large intestine, it encounters approximately 100 trillion bacteria, and they are very effective openers.
The problem then is that the undigested food feeds the bacteria rather than providing nutrients for our body. Additionally, the bacteria produce a great deal of gas when they feed which may cause flatulence, bloating, and upset stomach when the gastrointestinal tract is inflated with gas.

Over time, untreated nutrient deficiencies can lead to discomfort and illness

Poor Digestion = Weakened Defense Against Parasites

The second effect of poor digestion is that our protection against bacteria and parasites is weakened. It is mainly acidic, corrosive gastric acid in the stomach that destroys intruders. If our body manufactures too little gastric acid or the acid becomes diluted, the stomach may contain insufficient acidity to kill bacteria, increasing the risk of food-borne illness. Therefore, it is essential to support our digestion so the internal furnace burns properly.

What can weaken our internal furnace?

  • Stress
  • Eating too quickly and chewing too little
  • Drinking when eating
  • Medicines
  • Poor nutrition
  • Antibiotics

How many of the above apply to you? Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to have a weakened digestive tract, which contributes to stomach problems and other ailments. But by avoiding the factors that impair digestion and replacing those with practices that strengthen and repair digestion, we can correct many digestive ailments. So, what can we do to strengthen digestion?

9 Natural Methods to Strengthen Digestion:

1. Don’t drink with meals

vatten till måltid matsmältningDrinking fluids with meals can temporarily dilute gastric fluids. If you have sufficient gastric acid, and the acidity is normal, the body replenishes gastric acid quickly. But in the case of insufficient gastric acid or low acidity, the body may not adequately perform this essential function.

Drinking with meals also leads us to chew less before swallowing, as we rinse down relatively dry food with liquid. Avoid drinking 15 minutes before and 30 minutes after eating, opting to replenish fluids between meals instead.

2. Mealtime is sacred

Matsmältning lugn och ro stressAre you all too familiar with that tense, uneasy feeling in the stomach that usually comes when you are forced to throw down a 6.5-minute lunch and rush back to work?

Stress may cause the body to slow down digestion and makes us tense. Try to make your meals sacred moments- an opportunity for relaxation. Food should be respected and enjoyed. When it is not possible to slow down for a meal, it is better to eat just a snack, reserving larger meals for moments when you are able to sit down and relax.

3. Apple cider vinegar

Stimulates gastric acid production and digestion. Mix ½ – 1 tablespoons with water and drink 15 minutes before a meal.

If you have heartburn or acid reflux, apple cider vinegar can either help or aggravate your condition, so please note how your body responds.Ingestion of apple cider vinegar is also effective for weight loss. Bragg organic apple cider vinegar is one of the best brands.

4. Avoid stressful situations

Film läsa matsmältningWhen creating a sacred space for meals, avoid activities that are stressful or that require intense focus. This includes studying for an exam, reading difficult material, and viewing suspenseful or scary movies. These activities often make the stomach tense, robbing us of relaxation and causing us to eat quickly.

If you choose to read or watch tv, choose something light, relaxing, and fun, or opt for calm music or light conversation.

5. Breathe

Andas matsmältningBefore you start to eat, take 1-5 deep breaths, calming your body and mind. Deep, quiet breathing is calming, sending oxygen to the body and brain. While stretching the diaphragm which is often tense if you have a stressful day or a shallow faulty breathing pattern.

At the same time, mindful breathing allows you to give thanks for your food and reminds you to eat slowly in peace and quiet.

6. Mindful eating

Mindfulness practice has become quite popular. It can also help us develop a healthier relationship with our food. Focus on the taste, smell, mouth-feel, and the experience of eating.

Practicing mindful eating strengthens digestion, while increasing relaxation and the enjoyment of your meal.

7. +20 minutes

Meals should last at least 20 minutes (not snacks of course)! Put the fork down on the table between bites.

Take a break and ease back from your plate if you find yourself eating too quickly. Remember, you are creating sacred time that can become one of the most rewarding parts of your day. No need to rush!

8. Chew thoroughly

Digestion starts in the mouth through the mechanical operation of the teeth breaking food into smaller pieces and from the enzymes in saliva. Try to count how many times you normally chew before swallowing. You should have the intention to chew at least 30 times.

As for myself, I often make a habit of chewing 60-70 times per bite, but maybe not when I eat yogurt. A side effect of this is that you will always be the last person to leave the dinner table.

9. Digestive Enzymes

These are probably the single most important food supplements available, often helping relieve stubborn stomach ailments. Enzyme supplements are especially helpful if your digestion is sluggish or if you have gas and bloating.

You can supplement with enzymes to help digest larger meals. Especially meals with a lot of meat and fat that tend to be more difficult to digest. Or carbohydrates that easily ferment like FODMAPs. Supplementation can increase the absorption of nutrients and reduce gas and bloating. Some of the best digestive enzyme supplement I have found is Super Enzymes.

It contains:

  • Enzymes: all are vital for proper digestion
  • Betaine HCl: to help correct a deficiency of gastric acid
  • Ox Bile: essential for digesting fats
  • Bromelain and  papain: from pineapple and papaya to further increase digestion

Extremely effective all in one capsule.

We have reviewed 9 natural methods to strengthen digestion that you can easily try yourself at home. Though these are home remedies, do not underestimate the potential benefits of these methods. Most of the suggestions are simple lifestyle changes, but they can have a significant impact on stomach ailments.

Feel free to comment on your own experience or offer other tips for improved digestion!

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