Bloating, constipation, diarrhea, stinky farts. These are all signs of poor digestion and, oftentimes, they seem to be brought on by the foods we eat.
BUT did you know that, while some foods contribute to poor digestion, there are certain foods and ways of eating those foods that will actually improve your digestion?
Sharon’s Top 3 Tips:
How to Improve Your Digestion Naturally
Don't feel like reading? Watch the video instead!
1. Eat Probiotic Foods
This one may come as no surprise, as we’ve heard A LOT about probiotics recently.
HOW DO PROBIOTICS HELP DIGESTION?
Modern science is still working to understand the many ways that probiotics, or, "good bacteria," help facilitate digestion. One way we do understand is that probiotics – sauerkraut in particular – make lactic acid. Lactic acid helps break down our food so that we can absorb nutrients through the walls of our intestine into our bloodstream.
Some strains of probiotics support digestion by increasing the production of digestive enzymes, the Lactobacillus species, for example, can help increase the production of amylase, the key enzyme for carbohydrate digestion, while Lactobacillus casei produces the enzyme lactase which is necessary to digest lactose, the sugar in milk.
Probiotics may also affect digestion in other ways, such as by helping to bind cholesterol to bile acids which are then excreted and they also help produce beneficial nutrients, such as vitamin K2 - which the body can't produce on its own and is not readily found in food.
Probiotics are naturally found on the skins of fruits and vegetables and in dairy products. The process of fermentation allows the good bacteria to multiply.
So that means beer and wine are good for digestion?
Unfortunately no. Many food products that have been fermented, such as beer, wine, and sourdough bread undergo further processing – pasteurization, smoking, baking, or filtering – which kills the live good bacteria.
Some research shows that even dead bacteria can be beneficial, but if you're looking for the BEST foods to support digestion, you want your good bacteria live.
What fermented foods DO contain probiotics?
- Raw sauerkraut
- Pickled vegetables
The key is that the good bacteria has to be ALIVE. When shopping for these foods, make sure the label reads: “raw,” and/or “contains live active cultures”.
Your best bet for getting high-quality, probiotic foods filled with live bacteria is either to make them yourself (it’s actually pretty easy!) or head straight to the refrigerated section and read the labels!
Drink Bone broth
Not to toot our own horn, but, gut health is the reason why we started this company in the first place (you can read Sharon’s story here).
When our founder, Sharon was practicing as a Clinical Nutritionist, bone broth was the cornerstone of her nutritional protocol, which focused on optimizing gut health.
How does bone broth help support digestion?
Bone broth is one of the best whole-food sources of the amino acid L-glutamine, which literally acts like spackle, or, a sewing needle, to the lining of the intestine.
Why would you want to spackle your intestine? A condition called “leaky gut” – when the walls of the small intestine become too permeable and allow bacteria and toxins to pass, or, “leak” through into the bloodstream – has been shown to contribute to digestive disorders and overall inflammation.
Bone broth helps to strengthen the integrity of the gut lining, ultimately improving digestion and supporting healthy levels of inflammation.
Read our post here to find out the key signs of leaky gut and the most common causes:
Chew Your Food!
At one point in your life, you’ve probably heard a story about a grandparent or some other elderly person chewing their food until it was liquid, and they lived to some insane old age.
While we can’t prove that chewing increases longevity, we can prove that it dramatically improves digestion, and, as Hippocrates said: all disease (and thus, health) begins in the gut.
Digestion begins in the mouth, as chewing literally breaks down the food that you eat into smaller pieces. The act of opening and closing your jaw triggers your mouth to begin producing saliva. Saliva contains the digestive enzyme amylase, which starts breaking down carbohydrates into simpler sugars.
This mouth action also sends signals to the brain to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which relaxes the lower stomach – your lower stomach must be relaxed in order for food to pass into the intestines. At the same time, the brain sends a message to the gastrointestinal system that food is on its way. The stomach begins to produce hydrochloric acid, which helps break down protein, while the gall bladder prepares to release bile, which helps break down fats, and the pancreas makes more digestive enzymes.
This process is called the “digestive cascade,” and if you don’t chew, it can’t get started.