The most common digestive symptom that most people report is bloating. Most of us know the exact feeling when we hear the word “bloated”: that annoying feeling of trapped air in the stomach sometimes associated with abdominal cramps and discomfort that even lead to malabsorption of vitamins and nutrients in general.
You may already be aware of some of the triggers for bloating. Perhaps you have tried to eliminate various foods in an effort to discover what the problem is, without success. Sometimes it’s as simple as cutting out a food, but more often than not, there are a few factors that contribute to the discomfort you feel.
8 Steps to Healthy Digestion and Avoid Disease
In this article, we’ll cover 8 steps you can take (without cutting out any foods) to reduce bloating and the downstream consequences if bloating becomes chronic, which could be serious.
These are tips to achieve achieve healthy digestion what can you do at home They will help reduce bloating and improve digestion before visiting a doctor.
Do you identify yourself with constant swelling, with gas all the time, with irregularities when going to the bathroom in the color and consistency of your stools, with hair loss, brittle nails, bleeding gums? These and more symptoms you may be having, and it is almost certain that it is because you do not have a good digestionand with it you are malabsorbing the nutrients of what you eat.
Start with these 8 simple steps first, before you go to a doctor.
Sit back, relax, smell and taste your food
Avoid eating at your work desk; Ideally, go for a walk outside or find a quiet environment to give your mind and body a break. You are sitting down, rather than eating “on the go” or in the car.
Take a few minutes to interact with your food: the sight and smell of food trigger your gut-brain to start releasing digestive juices. Cook or prepare your food yourself whenever possible, or make it pleasing to the eye.
Take 5 deep, relaxing breaths before starting your meal. Take a moment to appreciate your food before you eat.
These little rituals help put your body into that critical “rest and digest” state to support healthy digestion, and it’s the first and most overlooked step in the digestive process.
Chew well and eat slowly for healthy digestion
Did you know that you should chew 20 to 30 times before swallowing? The mechanical breakdown of food by the teeth, tongue, and saliva is the second (most often overlooked) step of digestion. Don’t underestimate the impact of simply chewing food thoroughly on bloating symptoms.
Additional support for stomach acid and digestive enzymes
Gastric acid is produced in the stomach to break down proteins. The pancreas and small intestine produce enzymes to break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats before they are absorbed through the wall of the small intestine into the blood. The gallbladder stores and secretes bile, which helps emulsify (break down) dietary fats. The first two steps mentioned above help support digestive juices; here are some additional tips:
- Try taking 1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in 1-2 oz. water, 10 minutes or immediately before meals.
- Incorporate fruits that naturally contain digestive enzymes, such as papaya and pineapple.
- Talk to your naturopathic doctor about the right digestive enzyme for you and your particular symptoms.
Increase your intake of ‘bitter’ foods and herbs
Our culture tends to favor sweet foods. The ‘bitter’ taste response has some interesting impacts on our nervous system and digestion. Have you ever noticed that when you eat something bitter, like a lemon, you salivate more? Have you ever had snacks before dinner that are bitter?
When we find a ‘bitter’ taste in the mouth, it activates the brain and the intestine-brain (called the Enteric Nervous System) to stimulate the release of gastrin (hormone that stimulates the release of gastric acid), pancreatic enzymes and bile. These hormones and peptides stimulate the appetite, help establish the “rest and digest” state, improve digestion and thus reduce swelling.
Here are some simple ways to incorporate ‘bitters’ into your regular dietary routine:
Eat more bitter foods and herbs, such as arugula, apple cider vinegar, dandelion greens, coffee, dill, dark chocolate (80% or more), kale, radicchio, grapefruit, bitter melon, Brussels sprouts, and vegetables green leaf.
Try a few drops of a bitter herbal tincture directly on your tongue. A few drops of bitter herbs in liquid form help stimulate the aforementioned functions.
Consider taking a high-dose (20-50 billion CFU) multi-strain probiotic supplement (8+)
This helps maintain the balance of healthy bacteria in the intestine. If you buy one at a health food store, make sure it’s stored in the refrigerator and keep it chilled at home. Keep in mind that “one size does not fit all” when it comes to probiotics. If you’ve ever tried to buy one, you’ve probably quickly learned that there are a myriad of options. Start with a basic one or ask your doctor for guidance when you see him.
Increase your food sources rich in probiotics
These include fermented foods such as Greek (plain) yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, miso, natto, or tempeh. These fermented foods help build your own healthy and helpful gut bacteria.
Increase your intake of “prebiotic” foods that feed your healthy bacteria
Healthy bacteria feed on indigestible plant fibers. They act as energy sources to help build and maintain our good bacteria.
Examples of prebiotics include: raw chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, raw dandelion greens, raw garlic, leeks, onions, asparagus, wheat bran, or bananas.
Eat a variety of whole foods
This may seem obvious, but nutrient-depleted “foods” that come from highly processed foods aren’t doing you or your gut bacteria (or your bloating symptoms) any favors. Try to incorporate more whole grains, 6-8 servings of vegetables per day, wild fish like salmon, healthy oils (like olive oil), nuts, seeds, and legumes. Cut back on foods that come in packages with long lists of ingredients and additives. Cut out artificial sweeteners: These can be a bit of a culprit in bloating symptoms.
If your bloating symptoms persist despite taking the basic treatment measures listed above, you may need further testing to assess the root cause of your symptoms. Certain tests can be carried out by your GP, others are carried out exclusively by naturopathic doctors.