5 Simple Practices to Improve Your Digestion

Implementing simple practices to improve your digestion can go a long way in overall health. While you may have heard you are what you eat that isn't the full story. You are what you can digest and absorb, making these practices crucial to your health.

5 Simple Practices to Improve Your Digestion

Put a Little Time Into Food Prep.

Digestion starts with seeing and smelling food. By washing, cutting and cooking food you engage your brain, which in turn tells the digestive organs to prepare for food. In response to these sensations, your body begins to produce enzymes and acid to prepare for optimal digestion. If you feel like you don't have time to cook, you can get some benefit taking a moment to really appreciate the smell of your food before you begin eating.

Try Apple Cider Vinegar Before Meals.

Taking a 1/4 to a 1/2 tsp of apple cider vinegar in a small amount of water 15 minutes prior to your meal is another way you can prime your body for digestion. This will increase the digestive enzymes from the pancreas and help promote a healthy stomach acid, which will assist you in breaking down proteins and enhance mineral absorption.

Avoid or Minimize Drinking Beverages During Meals.

Fluids during meals can dilute all those digestive juices your body worked so hard to produce. This can make you digestion less efficient and even result in partially digested foods moving through your intestines.

Create a Calm Eating Environment.

You may have heard the term “rest & digest.” It refers to your parasympathetic nervous system which is opposite of the sympathetic nervous system or what's referred to as “fight or flight.” When you are calm and relaxed the body gives preference to your digestive organs. In stressful situations, blood is shunting away from the intestines to large muscles and other tissues. This is because your body does not know the difference between a bad day at work and the need to out run a lion. Stress is stress and your body will do what it thinks is necessary to survive.

I love nerdy art! This is actually a closer representation of what the digestive system looks like.

Chew and Then Chew Some More

Adequately chewing your food to create a texture more similar to that of a liquid will enhance the mechanical and chemical digestion process. It also increases the surface area of your food. This will enable enzymes to work more efficiently and for you to absorb more nutrients. It is also easier on the stomach because it won't be doing the extra work your mouth skipped.

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Dr. Jolene Brighten is a Functional Medicine Naturopathic Medical Doctor and the founder of Rubus Health, a women’s medicine clinic that specializes in women's hormones. She is recognized as a leading expert in Post-Birth Control Syndrome and the long-term side effects associated with hormonal contraceptives. Dr. Brighten is the best selling author, speaker and regular contributor to several online publications including MindBodyGreen. She is a medical advisor for one of the first data-driven apps to offer women personalized birth control recommendations.Read more about me.