14. Remove food allergens.
Food allergens cause irritation in your digestive tract and prevent you from absorbing the nutrients in your food or breaking down food properly. Undigested food particles can enter your circulatory system through leaks in your intestines, causing an immune system response. This causes unpleasant reactions. Identifying which foods are problematic for you can be challenging, but doing so will go a long way towards improving your health. Carrageenan is an important additive to avoid because not only is it a known allergen, it also causes gastrointestinal upset and inflammation.
15. Improve your posture when sitting during the day.
Maintaining good posture is beneficial for your musculoskeletal system but did you also know that it can also help your digestive processes? The goal here is to strengthen the abdominal musculature and enhance your breathing, which provides better circulation and improves message signaling to and from the central nervous system. Don’t slouch in your chair, compressing your digestive organs. You should also not lie down for two to three hours after eating.
16. Avoid constant snacking.
Having many small meals throughout the day was once encouraged but this is not actually great for your digestion (or weight loss). Your digestion process is weakened and foods actually hang around longer. So stick to three meals a day.
17. Watch your tap water.
We’ve recently gone on a vendetta against chlorine, eliminating it from our showers and the water we use for drinking and cooking. Chlorine kills not only bad bacteria, but the good ones as well. So if you’re taking probiotics and drinking chlorinated water, the two are cancelling each other out. But don’t forget to take care of the water you bathe in because your body actually takes in more chlorine through the skin than it does when you drink it. This goes for other toxins as well. You really have to watch what you put on your skin.
18. Set the mood for your digestive system.
Eat slowly and in a peaceful environment. Be sure to chew your food thoroughly as this is the first and one of the most important steps in the digestive process.
19. Keep your weight in check.
Being overweight puts stress on all of your body’s organs and processes, including your digestive system. When fat accumulates around your liver and pancreas, these two vital organs will not function properly. In more extreme cases, cirrhosis can occur. Excess fat around the abdomen puts pressure on the digestive organs and can cause heartburn.
20. Eat prebiotics.
Just as essential as the ingestion of probiotics is the ingestion of prebiotics, which you can find in artichokes, asparagus, bananas, burdock, cherries, dandelion root, honey, garlic, kale, leeks, onions and whole grains. These foods are not completely digestible, but they encourage the growth of good gut flora (probiotics).
21. Get more sleep.
Your digestive system needs rest too. Not getting adequate rest stresses all of your body’s systems, not just your digestion. This is crucial to your detox and nutrition plan.
22. Don’t eat late at night.
Unless you’re about to go out and dance into the wee hours of the morning, eating late is not great. Not only will it disrupt your sleep cycle and put unnecessary stress on your body, your digestive system moves more slowly at night. In many European countries, lunch is the main meal of the day. This is very wise because it provides your body with its largest amount of food in the middle of the day, when you are still up and active. Nighttime calories are more likely to be stored as fat as well.
23. Combine foods in beneficial ways.
I first learned about this practice from reading the Body Ecology Diet, which is dedicated to reducing digestive stress and improving your internal ecosystem. There is a lot of research and material out there on this subject and I don’t have room to get into it all here. What’s important to know is that certain foods and nutrients absorb better when combined while others compete during the digestive process. Find some great tips to get you started here, here and here.
24. Avoid antibiotics.
Like chlorine, antibiotics kill the good gut bacteria along with the bad. They can also cause a host of other health problems so you should only take them when absolutely necessary. If you have to take antibiotics, take the least powerful ones that will work for your ailment and be sure to consume probiotics and prebiotics during and for at least a couple of weeks after you’ve finished your course.
25. Eat bone broth.
26. Try herbs.
There’s an herb for every affliction and digestion is no different. Ginger, fennel seeds and peppermint are all beneficial herbs for digestion but there are many more that are worth investigating, depending on what you’re having trouble with.
27. Increase Omega 3 while reducing Omega 6.
I’m sure I don’t need to tout the virtues of Omega 3 oils. These lubricate the digestive tract and help reduce inflammation. Find them in walnuts, wild rice, flax, beans, wild salmon and high-quality supplements. Most of us get too much Omega 6 and the imbalance can lead to inflammation. Cook with olive or coconut oil, eliminate processed foods and avoid deep-fried foods and be mindful of your consumption of these oils.
28. Do the spinal twist.
This is just one of the many simple yoga movements that can help improve your digestion. This video shows you how to do the spinal twist. You can do this in your chair in five minutes during the workday.
29. Eat fermented foods.
Fermented foods like sauerkraut are beneficial for improving digestion, healthy gut flora, nutrient absorption and even flavor. These are inexpensive to make at home or you can purchase them (but be sure to check the labels for ingredients you don’t want). This list of fermented foods can help you get started. Have them a few times a week for optimal health and be careful not to overdo it.
30. Don’t take antacids, especially if you have MTHFR.
Antacids, especially if taken too often, can wreak havoc on your digestive health. They can interfere with the absorption of nutrients and medications, weaken your digestive system and contain harmful fillers. People with MTHFR should especially not consume antacids because they interfere with your detoxification process.