8 ways to improve your digestion…

…without changing your diet!

What?  Yes.

When it comes to your health it is important to look at the big picture.  Focusing on the little things like what foods to avoid or tracking your calories can cause one to forget the big picture, which is that everything is connected.

If you are exercising 3 to 5 hours a week, great!  But remember that that is just a small percentage of the 168 hours we live each week.  What you do during the other 163 hours is what will have the greatest impact on your health.

Here is a list of things that all impact your digestion and your overall health and fitness : 

1 – Exercise : Your movement not only has positive impacts on your heart, muscles, and joint health, but it also helps to improve the composition and diversity in your gut bacteria, which helps with maintaining a healthy weight, boosts cognitive function, and supports a healthy immune system. 

2 – Address your stress : When your body is in stress mode (sympathetic nervous system / “fight or flight”) it is not prepared to intake OR digest any kind of food or drink you throw at it.  These days, most of us are in a state of constant stress, which is slowly killing us.  Our body needs to recover!  Eating itself can be a stress to the body so the more relaxed we are (parasympathetic nervous system / “rest & digest”)  before eating, the better we will be for it.

If you are looking for ideas on how to reduce your stress or curious as to how you might be unknowingly causing your body stress, let me know and we can talk about it together.

3 – Sleep quality : We all know that sleep is important; it is when our body rebuilds itself after all the stress we have put it through during the day and when everything we have learned becomes retained. This is also true for our gut health.  When it comes to sleep, quality comes before quantity.  Why is it that you can get 8 – 10 hours of sleep and still feel sleepy? Become more efficient in utilizing your sleep cycles (deep, REM & light) and your body will thank you.

4 – Create a digestive routine : Our bodies are a network of interconnected cellular structures that regulate the timing of physiological processes and behaviors.  Our circadian rhythms are connected to the world around us and affect us inside and out. They determine the rate of nutrient absorption, speed of food transmission through GI tract, and elimination.  It also controls the behavior of our microbiome, which is full of trillions of bacteria, which ALSO have their own circadian rhythms!  Getting on an eating schedule will help your body regulate itself.

Imbalances can lead to metabolic syndrome, which causes insulin resistance, excessive fat gain, and poor blood sugar and metabolism.  Blood pressure, muscular strength and reaction time, mental acuity are all affected.  Digestion and elimination is more robust when the sun is up so making sure you get hydrated early and not eating too late are paramount when it comes to digestion. 

5 – Alcohol consumption : Excessive alcohol consumption is never good news for your health and with digestion there is no exception.  Alcohol messes with your microbiome, which causes a lack of nutrient absorption, which leads to malnutrition and indigestion. Have you ever woken up after a night of drinking and forgot some or all of what happened the night before?  Alcohol can disrupt your sleep cycles and even cause them to not happen all together.  Yes… not happen at all. 

I’m not saying to never drink alcohol again ever, I am saying that constant and excessive alcohol consumption (daily drinking or more than 3 drinks each time you drink) is probably a big reason why you feel like crap and you have poor digestion.  No pun intended. 

6 – Smoking : I mean, do I need to cite any sources here?  We all know smoking is bad for your health.  Surprise surprise, it has negative effects on your cells and their ability to function properly.  

7 – Eat in a relaxed state.  No on the go, no mindless eating, prepare your body to receive the nutrients you are about to consume. Sympathetic to parasympathetic states… This goes back to what I addressed earlier.  Not only is it better for digestion but it also makes you more aware of what you are actually putting into your body.  

If I ask you what you ate yesterday and you can’t remember every meal, then you’re mindlessly eating.  You are literally making your human tissue out of the food that you eat.  That’s important.  It’s also one of the few things that you have complete control of in your life.  No one is holding a gun to your head and making you eat that frozen pizza or ice cream, I hope!  So be mindful and prepare yourself to receive the nutrients of which your body is being built.

8 – Chew.your.food. – Digestion literally begins in your mouth! This is where your DNA encodes with your food and your body recognizes it and knows how to process it.  If you’re skipping the chewing process you’re throwing dust to the wind (or to your stomach) and letting the chips fall where they may.  Did I use these phrases correctly? 

Poor chewing reduces the simulation you’re getting from your food and the act of chewing ITSELF is a stress reliever!  Hello #2.  No pun intended. 

I hope you found some value in this information.  If you have any questions or comments on this feel free to reach out!