…and other tips to help get your digestion running at its best!
How about some best practices for optimizing your digestion? You’re making better choices with your food, you’re feeling better, you have long lasting energy, your food cravings have subsided, and maybe you’ve even lost a food pounds…woo hoo! All these things are AMAZING! Great job friend!
Ever think about how you’re chewing your food? How about being mindful of eating? When you sit down to eat, are you watching tv, or scrolling on your phone? Do you ever finish your dinner and then realized that you ate it fast, and think, how did that even happen? Here’s a bad habit I have, I eat and do other things while I’m standing up! I do this in the kitchen, trying to multitask! I always think that I can eat fast while I just do this one thing. Ha ha, please tell me I’m not alone!
Chew your food until it’s mush in your mouth, this starts the digestion process! Digestion begins with chewing! As you chew, you secrete saliva, and that saliva coats your food with enzymes (amylase and lipase). These two enzymes begin to break down fat and starches, right in your mouth. As chewing also starts the digestion process, it signals the stomach to prepare to make stomach acid, (you need stomach acid!!), and signals the pancreas to prepare to secrete its contents into the small intestinal tract. When you chew your food until it’s basically mush, your stomach acid will be able to coat it better and do its job! By properly digesting and absorbing your food, you’re supporting your body to help it perform at its best!
For our satiety hormones (the feeling of fullness) to kick in, we need to be chewing for 20 minutes! So, instead of inhaling your dinner in 7 minutes, and going back for seconds, try slowing down, chew slowly, and aim for a 20 minute dinner time. Then check in with yourself. Are you still hungry? Are you thirsty? If you’re truly still hungry, get some more food.
So what happens when we eat fast and don’t chew our food properly? First, you don’t enjoy your food! Also these things can happen…increased risk of bacterial overgrowth and insufficient nutrient absorption for your body. So slow down! Slowing down can also reduce your chance of heartburn, GERD, indigestion AND OVEREATING!
Take the time to thoroughly chew and enjoy your meals. Do you notice a difference? Jot down some notes daily and let me know how you’re doing!
Another note on mindfulness. Food is nourishment for your body. I know that we are all busy and that this might seem crazy, but sit the heck down and eat your food with respect at a table. Check in with yourself before you eat. Are you stressed out? In a rush? Upset or worried about something? You ideally want to eat when your body is in a parasympathetic mode, called the rest and digest mode. If you’re eating when you’re stressed or in a hurry, in the fight or flight mode, you are creating more stress on your body to properly do its job of digesting your food.
Have family dinner together, put your phones away, put some relaxing music on, enjoy your meals! You took the time to prepare them, now enjoy it! The benefits will show up, try it! Also, try setting a timer to help you aim for 20 minutes at each meal. Another tip I have, is when I find that I need to slow down my chewing, I put my fork down on my plate. This seems to help me refocus on my chewing.
Have you heard of intermittent fasting (a defined time where you cycle the times you eat)? It’s pretty popular, there are a couple of different ways of doing this. First, if you have an autoimmune disease, or other concerns I would definitely consult your doctor first before implementing. I have numerous autoimmune diseases and I have found that fasting overnight works well for me. The most common form of IF (intermittent fasting) I see is 16 hours fasting, and only eating in a 8 hour time frame. With my overnight fast, I do 12 on, 12 off. I eat in a 12 hour window, then give my digestion a rest for 12. For me, this one is easy to maintain. Say you finish dinner at 6, you go to bed a few hours later at 9, wake up at 5. By the time your hungry in an hour or so, your 12 hours is up!
Why fast? Fasting has been around for a long time! Many people and cultures do it for various reasons. Besides giving your digestion time to rest, it’s also a chance to improve your microbiome and increase your metabolism. What, microbiome? That’s the ecosystem of bacteria that lives in your gut! Your microbiome contains more bacteria than cells in your body! Having a healthy gut microbiome is the key to great health. Your ideal ratio is considered to be at 85% good to 15% bad gut bacteria! The average adult eating the Standard American Diet, has their bacteria reversed, with their microbiome at 15% good bacteria to 85% bad bacteria. Your gut bacteria can make you stronger or weaker, if your gut is functioning well, you will be able to experience it in all aspects of your life. Have you heard the phrase yet, “your gut is the second brain”? There is new information being brought to light every day about our gut and the importance it plays in our overall health. I’m going to link a few articles here and here if you’re wanting to learn more! A few, easy quick tips for improving that glorious bacteria of yours… introduce fermented foods into your diet! Just as important as banning the bad stuff from your plate is adding in fermented foods that will help grow your good bacteria! Add in daily to your plates…raw sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, tempeh, natto, kombucha and raw pickles!
Digestion matters! Just like the food on your plate matters. Take the time each day to care for your digestion and you’ll soon be reaping the benefits of how improved digestion can help you live a healthier life! I’ve just scratched the surface here about gut health, there is so much more! Start with these few steps to help guide your digestion to a better place!
I hope this was helpful!