Thursday, August 8, 2013

Ten Tips For A Happier Belly!


Digestion isn't a subject many of us feel comfortable talking about.  With it arises words like bloating, gas, constipation and diarrhea, which are words not many of us feel comfortable uttering.  The thing is, though, we need to talk about this stuff if we want to resolve our issues.

That is why I am here!

I've been working through some digestive issues of my own and am successfully resolving them!  From my own experience, including the wealth of digestion-related knowledge I've acquired, I would like to share with you some things you can do to improve your digestion.  They're simple and easy to integrate into your everyday lives.  Even if you don't currently experience any digestive issues, trying out some of these techniques might improve your already stellar gut!

Ten Tips For A Happier Belly:

1.  Eat your meal while seated.
This focuses your attention more on your food, signaling to your brain, "I'm going to have a meal now.  I have pulled up a chair and am seated, ready to eat."  Sitting down gives your meal greater importance by making the meal an event unto itself.  It also encourages you to eat slower (even if that still means you eat fast!).  Standing while eating, on the other hand, doesn't give the food the importance it deserves, which, in turn, interferes with the digestive process.  Your body is aware that food is entering it but you haven't sent the appropriate signals to your brain (ie. pulling up a chair, setting a place of some kind, sitting down) for it to be on the same page, and this is when digestion can go awry.

2.  Drink a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar ("ACV") before your meal.
This gets your digestive juices flowing, which aids with the overall digestion of your meal.

3.  Chew, chew, chew!
For all the macronutrients, except fat, the digestive process begins in the mouth.  So when you consume any type of carbohydrate or protein, you really want to chew it well.  Your saliva, which mixes with the food, actually begins the digestive process.  Additionally, chewing foods breaks down the cell walls of the food, which allows for greater nutrient absorption and assimilation.  Chewing food thoroughly will also decrease your potential to eat too fast, thereby decreasing your likelihood of "swallowing too much air," which can cause bloating.

4.  Experiment with supplements.
I try not to rely too heavily on supplements but I do have a couple staples in my diet that I swear by.  I also am a huge fan of herbs, which I've had a lot of success with as well, in terms of healing my gut.  The first supplement I would highly recommend is a probiotic.  Probiotics replenish the healthy flora in your small intestine, which is crucial for good digestion.  I also recommend peppermint oil capsules, which can soothe and coat the lining of your intestine, further aiding digestion.  L-glutamine is another supplement with which I've experienced tremendous results.  L-glutamine helps protect the lining of the GI tract and maintains gut-barrier function. 

5.  Avoid drinking large amounts of liquid with meals.
This dilutes the acid in our stomachs, which is what makes for efficient digestion.  Small sips of room-temperature water, on the other hand, has found to actually aid in digestion.  The key word here, though is "sip."  Over the course of your whole meal, you don't want to sip more than 1/4 cup's worth and each sip that you take should be a true "sip," or approximately a tablespoon.

6.  Think happy thoughts.
If you're upset, angry, stressed or just plain thinking bad thoughts, that same negative energy is going to enter your physical body through the food you eat.  So, think happy thoughts.  The more positive your mind is during a meal, the more positive the energy of the food you put into your body.

7.  BREATHE!
Though I have this listed as number seven, it is perhaps the most useful tip for aiding digestion.  Take big, bold, juicy breaths during the course of your meal.  Engage not only your upper chest but your diaphragm and lower belly.

8.  Take a walk.
Even if it's just for five minutes, taking a walk after a meal is tremendously beneficial for one's digestion.  

9.  Try Qigong. 
Qigong is a practice started in China centuries ago.  Somewhat similar to yoga, Qigong incorporates breath, movement, balance and energy.  The movements are very slow, and breath (again, I cannot emphasize the importance of breathing) is most important.  The video below demonstrates a quick exercise you can do following a meal to jumpstart your digestion.



10.  Rub some castor oil on your belly.
As weird as this sounds, I do this every night.  I rub the castor oil on my low abdomen in massage-like circles.  When externally applied, castor oil has been found to remove toxins, improve elimination, aid in digestion and relieve constipation.  I speak from experience--this works!

I could go on and on, offering at least 50 more tips for a happy belly, but I'm going to stop here.  I hope the ten I provided help you wherever you're at on your journey to digestive health.  If you're interested in learning about more ways you can improve your digestion and would like to work with me, please email me at healthcoachingwithlaura@gmail.com.

Wishing you all very happy tummies!