Digestive problems are probably the commonest problems I see in my practice. Many of the patients who present to me with other symptoms, from fatigue to allergies to arthritis, often the primary issue is faulty digestion. Most of these patients didn’t even realize that they had a faulty digestive system. They had become used to having mild indigestion or bloating or gas and thought it was a normal part of aging. I’m here to tell you — this is not normal!
Digestion is one of the most important functions for health. A well functioning digestive system will energize you, help your immune system and generally prevent all sorts of diseases. It will make you feel more vital.
So in almost all of my patients I always look to see if the digestive system is working well. It makes sense, because if you’re not digesting and or absorbing the food you eat, your nutritional needs will not be met. Incidentally, if you’re not absorbing nutrients, this could be a reason why you have food cravings — your body is on the hunt for nutrients.
I see many patients who are taking hundreds of dollars worth of supplements, which probably aren’t being absorbed properly because of a poorly functioning digestive system.
In Chinese medicine, the digestive function or the spleen function or earth element is at the center. When this is off balance, the whole system becomes imbalanced.
Here are 10 simple tips to help with digestion:
Chew your food well. Digestion begins in the mouth with the manual breakdown of food, and salivary amylase starts to break down carbohydrates. We teach our kids to chew but sometimes we forget to chew our food — it’s important!
Sit down and relax while you eat. Eating in a rush and under stress is not healthy and may lead to digestive problems. I recently saw a man walking down the street in New York City eating a salad as he walked – I would bet you that he has digestive problems!
Make eating a mindful experience. Give thanks for your food, and remember to set down your fork, breathe and enjoy the company of others between bites.
Eat natural, whole, unrefined, unprocessed, high quality foods. The closer to nature your food is, the easier it is for your body to digest. If it was made by a chemist in a lab (as most processed food is), it will be much more work for your body to break down.
Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you are 80% full. Overeating creates a burden for your whole digestive system to manage.
Eat organic and preferably local foods whenever possible.
Try resting your digestive system for at least 10 hours at night. For example, if you eat breakfast at 7:00 am, try not to eat anything after 9:00 PM. This means your body won’t have to do the hard work of digestion, and will have time for rest and repair.
Try doing an Elimination diet for 1-2 weeks from time to time, where you eliminate all refined sugar, processed foods, alcohol, gluten and dairy. Notice how your digestion improves.
If possible have something bitter such as arugula or dandelion root before your meal, it stimulates your body’s own digestive juices and therefore helps digestion. Another good option is to have some sauerkraut or kimchi before a meal — about a ¼ of a cup will be plenty.
Take a good probiotic formula. Probiotics are indispensable if you suffer from chronic indigestion, abdominal pain, bloating, lactose intolerance, diarrhea, constipation, and other digestive problems.
Last but not least, our bonus tip to improve your digestion: do a Cleanse! The Be Well Cleanse uses an elimination diet and supports your digestion with an herbal antimicrobial supplement to wipe out bad bacteria from the gut. This protocol has helped many of my patients resolve their digestive issues.