There is so much information and many opinions available about what foods are best to eat for a “healthy” lifestyle. Even if you’re eating high quality, organic “superfoods”, it may not benefit you in the most efficient way if you are not absorbing the nutrients properly due to poor digestion.
Here are some simple tips for better digestion:
The majority of digestion occurs in your mouth before it even reaches your stomach. Our digestive system is a two-part process, mechanical and chemical. In order to help the stomach work most efficiently, there are a few important steps to ensure this happens. When digestion does not work optimally, you may experience bloating, gas, sleepiness or abdominal pain, not to mention loose stools and/or constipation.
Limit water intake 15 minutes before and after meals.
If you need a little drink during a meal, aim to keep it less than a half of a cup. Too much liquid during meals dilutes the digestive acids and enzymes and your stomach has to work longer and harder to process the food.
Make sure the liquid is at least room temperature or better yet, have some hot tea. Iced or cold liquids slow down the process significantly.
Smell your food before taking the first bite.
This gets the salivary glands activated in your mouth and sends a signal to your stomach that it should get ready to receive food. The stomach will then prepare the proper mix of acids and enzymes to break down that exact variety of foods.
Chew, chew and then chew some more.
Take small bites, chew thoroughly (25-100 chews per bite) and put your fork down in between bites.
Before swallowing, the food should be broken down to a soupy consistency. Once food hits the stomach, it only has chemicals to process it. Sending whole chunks of food down requires much more time and effort to digest, with some things not being digested at all, rather just rotting and being passed to the intestines that way.
Concentrate on eating only.
Avoid TV, phone/computer or upsetting conversations while eating. Ben Harper has a song called, “Please don’t talk about murder while I’m eating”, which is terrific advice. Distractions, violence or upset while eating severely impair digestion. TV, phone or computer use are distracting and don’t allow us to be aware of how much we are eating, which can lead to overeating and poor chewing. Violence or upset engages our fight or flight sensation which leads to digestion being slowed considerably to make sure we are safe first, even though it’s not necessarily a direct threat.
Enjoy the flavors of your food. Appreciate where your food came from and the hands that prepared it.
Happy Eating = Happy Stomach!