It's not only what you eat.. but also HOW you eat that affects your digestion...
Digestive issues are one of the most common reasons why women come to see me for support with their health. Many of us regularly experience uncomfortable digestive symptoms such as bloating,reflux, indigestion and stomach pain. We might experience them with such frequency that it begins to seem normal for us- but it's not! Your body is telling you that something is not quite right!
It is not uncommon for digestive symptoms to be happening as a result of eating foods that don't agree with your body. The other really common contributor to digestive symptoms is stress- stress has a huge impact on the gut and your body simply will NOT digest properly when you're stressed!
Other causes of digestive issues can be of a functional nature such as lack of digestive acids and enzymes to properly digest your food and delayed transit time ( slow transit of food through the gut leading to bloating and pain most often)
-SIBO or other bacterial issues, (bacterial issues in the stomach and upper intestines)
-stomach inflammation, leaky gut, ulcers, hernia
But sometimes, what is causing the symptoms relates to the way that you are eating and even if you're not actually having any noticeable digestive issues, we can all benefit from being mindful of our habits when it comes to not just what we're eating but HOW we're eating!
Here are 5 simple things that you can start doing to improve your digestion:
- Slow down: Many of us eat in a rush, often not really slowing down to taste our food and experience the process of eating. This can mean that we are more likely to overeat because it can take some time for the brain to catch up to know that you're had enough..by this stage you may have over eaten and have a groaning stomach as a result!
- Sit down and don't multitask: Too many of us are still on the go while we are eating. We might be eating lunch whilst checking emails, watching TV, tidying the house. To digest properly we need to slow down and focus on the process of eating. While you're walking around or standing up, blood is diverted from your gut and your digestion won't be optimal
-Breathe: Before eating, take a few slow conscious breaths to allow you to slow down. The 6:2 Calm Breathing is a great breath technique to use prior to eating ( breathe in to the count of 6, hold to the count of 2, breathe out to the count of 6, hold to the count of 2 before breathing in again to the count of 6 and so on..) what this does is helps to release stress hormones (which switch off digestion!) and allows your nervous system to change from active and on-the-go sympathetic function to parasympathetic function which is all about digestion and rest..
-Chew your food properly: Most of us don't chew out food enough! We should actually chew each mouthful at least 20 times! Try this next time and see how much slower you end up eating. This helps to not only break down your food more so that it is easier on your stomach, but there are enzymes in your saliva that also begin breaking down your food, taking the load off your stomach..
-Avoid drinking too much at meal times: Too much water or other drinks (especially really cold drinks) can interfere with digestion, causing bloating and reflux and also making the stomach acids and enzymes required to digest your food less effective. Ofcourse if you're thirsty, you need to drink water, but make it room temperature and just have sips rather than larged gulps. Create the habit of drinking water regularly away from meal times to stay hydrated and avoid compromising your digestion by over doing your water intake when you're eating a meal.