Our digestive system is like a fine-tuned machine. All of the parts – from the mouth down to the colon – are perfectly designed to work together in harmony to break down our food and extract energy and nutrition from each morsel. But just like a computer or a car, it just takes one of the parts to malfunction and the whole system suffers. Fortunately, just as there are many ways to damage the digestive system, there are also many ways to keep it fine-tuned. Here are some tried and true ways to naturally strengthen and balance your digestion.
1. STOKE THE FIRE
Improve your digestive “fire” by drinking 1 tsp of raw apple cider vinegar or herbal “bitters” in warm water before meals. This sends a signal to initiate the process of digestion so your body can start breaking down foods.
2. DIGESTIVE ENZYMES
Digestive enzymes help our body to digest the food we eat so we can access the nutrients and energy it provides. An outstanding way to activate your digestive health is with Enzyme Power™. The full spectrum and potency of plant-based digestive enzymes in Enzyme Power™ enriches the digestion, absorption, and utilization of nutrients across all food groups. It supports a healthy balance in the gut microbiome and optimizes your overall digestive foundation.
3. PROBIOTICS A'PLENTY
The options for introducing healthy probiotic bacteria into your gut are plentiful. Cultured foods like kombucha, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, and kimchi are all possibilities. Not a fan of ferments? Reach for a reputable probiotic supplement that contains a diversity of strains including lactobacillus and bifidobacterium.
4. FEED YOUR BUGS
Your healthy gut bacteria (aka your microbiota) need food too. Boost your beneficial bacteria with foods such as onions, garlic, legumes, artichokes, asparagus and bananas — or take a “PREbiotic” supplement. Prebiotics contain compounds such as inulin and oligosaccharides that feed your healthy microbes.
5. CHOCOLATE, ANYONE?
It’s true, cacao IS good for you! It contains healthy polyphenols, which are potent antioxidants, and fiber that have been shown to improve the health of the gut and are anti-inflammatory. Green tea and red wine also contain polyphenols that have a similar effect.
6. FIND YOUR TRIGGERS
An inflamed or leaky gut won’t improve no matter how many supplements or healthy foods you throw at it. The key is to identify your triggers and remove them. Are you sensitive to gluten, dairy, or eggs? Are you swallowing antacids on a daily basis? Everyone is different — it’s essential to find YOUR gut enemies.
7. MARVELOUS MAGNESIUM
Magnesium is a mineral involved in over 300 reactions in our bodies — and many of us are woefully deficient. If you struggle with constipation, you may benefit from upping your dietary magnesium (beans, nuts, whole grains, dark leafy greens) or by taking a magnesium supplement.
8. CHILL OUT
When it’s time for a meal, take a deep breath and relax. Your digestion is activated by your parasympathetic nervous system — also known as your “rest and digest” system. If you are stressed or rushing when you eat, your body has trouble breaking down your food to access the nutrition it needs. Breathe, chew slowly, relax. Your gut will thank you.