If there is one thing I would tell my patients— or anyone who wishes to improve their digestive health—it would be to learn the importance of good eating habits. In fact, I would go so far as to say that good eating habits are the cornerstone of healthy living. And yet, few people practice them.
Some of the most common symptoms of poor digestion include gas, bloating, upset stomach, constipation, diarrhea, and acid reflux. These symptoms are common, and can often be alleviated simply by adjusting the way we approach food and the types of foods that we eat.
Eat Mindfully Rather Than Mindlessly
One of the most common mistakes I see people making eating foods that are poor quality, heavily processed or are high in fat and simple carbohydrates. Encouraging my patients to eat more simply prepared foods that are minimally processed is vital to good nutrition and to better digestion. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds is a good start. And is the first suggestion I give when cleaning up the diet. This can be as a simple as remembering to eat a large salad everyday.
2. Slow Down and Chew Your Food
Probably the most common question I ask my patients is, how quickly do you eat? In fact, very few people even think about the time they take to chew their food properly. The truth is, this early part of the digestive process is very important. And is vital to proper nutritional-absorption as well.
When we chew our food, food particles are broken into smaller pieces and mixed with our saliva. Saliva contains enzymes that help to further break down our food before it is swallowed.
Enzymes like amylase are vital to the digestion carbohydrates – found mostly in plant foods. This is important to talk to patients about – especially if they are someone with increasing stomach pains after consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Often, one of the most common reasons why people experience increased gas and bloating, after consuming plant foods, is because they need to increase the time taken to properly chew their food. Food should be chewed until it is well broken down in the mouth. This is especially true when consuming raw plants. Raw vegetables contain resistant starches that are difficult for the digestive tract to break down and digest. Resistant starches are even harder to digest if the food is eaten raw.
Starches are digested at the first phase of digestion, and cannot be properly broken down without the assistance of the amylase found in saliva; that is mixed with the food when we chew.
So while it is vital to proper digestion to consume more plant foods, it is just as vital to chew them properly; to avoid poor digestive health.
For those people who are still struggling and experience poor digestion, I will sometimes prescribe a digestive enzyme for additional digestive support. One of my favorite digestive enzymes is Digest Gold by Enzymedica. This product can be taken prior to your meal, and can greatly reduce the gas and bloating that often accompanies eating vegetables. If gas and bloating persist, I suggest taking an Activated Charcoal Pill.
3. Do Not Eat More Food Than You Can Properly Digest At Any Given Time
Eating more food than you can digest can lead to ill health, stomach pains and weight-gain; none of which is particularly healthful. Eating smaller portions that have been properly chewed will do wonders to improve your digestive health – without the need of any medications. This is because too much food can place an added burden on our digestive tract, especially our pancreas – which must produce adequate amounts of enzymes necessary to digest our food. Eating too much can lead to obesity, increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, depression, dementia, and cancer as well.
To eat nutritionally dense food, to chew our food properly, to not over-fill our plates, is the foundation of good digestion.
4. Enjoy Your Meal
The last thing that I would suggest to anyone struggling with poor digestion is to take the time to enjoy your meal. Eating when we are stressed, or upset, can wreak havoc on our digestion. And remember, if we cannot digest it, we will likely have trouble absorbing the nutrition as well. If we are at a table where there is strife or tension, it is likely that we will not enjoy good digestive health. To truly enjoy the food we eat. to enjoy a meal with people whose company brings us joy, is one of the best things we can do to experience good health.
If you would like to find out more about my work as a medical minimalist, be sure and check out my webpages at DoctorWhimsy.com. And if you would like to schedule your appointment either at my offices or via telemedicine, please check out my services page at http://www.doctorwhimsy.com/myservices/
I look forward to helping you on your journey to health.