My naturopathic doc once said to me regarding digestive issues, “It’s not only what you eat but it’s also how you eat it.” (Actually, a study done on the matter provided evidence this is true!) Here’s a practical tips post by guest blogger, Alison Cullen, to help you literally stop bellyaching.
Most people have experienced it at some point or another – the gut twinges that gradually become cramping pains; the bloating that leaves you feeling like a balloon that needs popping; the creeping unease as nausea beckons…
Digestive malaise gets you literally in the guts. You can’t ignore it and sometimes neither can the people around you, as alarming gurglings and gluggings proceed from your nether regions. The trouble is that you can’t avoid eating either, at least not as a long-term strategy!
However, there are a few other things you can do to improve digestion:
Practical Ways to Avoid Digestive Harassment
Chew, chew and chew
It costs you nothing to chew and has a hugely beneficial effect on digestion. Enjoy each mouthful and savour the taste. Chewing starts the process of breaking down food and lets the stomach know that food is on its way. The stomach in turn produces stomach acid and digestive juices.
Sit down to eat
And don’t slump because doing so squashes your digestive organs. Due to our increasingly busy lifestyles, many of us no longer take the time to enjoy our food, either grabbing something to eat at our desks or rushing around doing other things at the same time.
It is all too easy to eat our meals in front of the television and not pay attention to what we are putting into our mouths. As a result our digestive system puts all its resources into keeping us going. Try to sit down at the dinner table at least once a day. Use the time to catch up with events of the day.
When you have finished your meal, don’t get up immediately. Sit for another five minutes at least to allow your digestive processes to begin.
Don’t drink before eating
If you drink more than half a glassful of any liquid within 20 minutes of meals, you dilute your digestive enzymes and thereby reduce your digestive power.
Eat lightly, if at all, when stressed. Stress can turn off the digestive process and exacerbate inflammatory reactions. If you are always chasing deadlines and trying to do too many things at the same time the resulting stress can seriously impair your digestive processes.
Avoid getting constipated
Most digestive problems such as wind and bloating are caused by a sluggish bowel. Your bowel should move at least once a day if you are eating once or twice a day. If this is not the case, the faecal matter that accumulates provides an ideal breeding environment for unfriendly bacteria. Drink plenty of water to help keep things moving.
Herbal Approach to Recurrent Stomach Aches
Think about herbs such as Dandelion and Cynara (Artichoke), which are beautifully bitter and trigger proper digestion. Take them in liquid form (as tinctures) so that you can get the full flavour – they won’t work if they’re not bitter on your tongue. Take them before food and feel the benefit as your liver processes fats more effectively and your gut relaxes instead of going into spasm.
Cynara scolymus is probably best known for its edible ‘heart’ – the mass of immature florets in the centre of the bud that is called the choke or beard. If you are prone to high cholesterol then take comfort from the fact that Cynara is also excellent at keeping cholesterol under control, improving the way it’s processed by your liver.
Dandelion has its additional benefits too, relieving any tendency you might have to fluid retention, and bringing nutrients to your poor beleaguered liver to help it work more efficiently. When you think of all the things your liver has to do, from storing iron for you, providing you with energy, metabolising your fats to keep your brain working well and your weight balanced, not to mention keeping your hormones balanced, you’ll realize that it’s really worth giving it a boost occasionally!
So put bellyaches behind you with a helping herbal hand for your liver.
About the Author
Alison Cullen has worked in the health industry since 1987. Alison lectures & trains on health issues, and is often to be found quoted in health magazines.
I’ve found it very challenging to slow down enough to even eat these days, let alone slow down the actual process of eating to really enjoy it… Anyone have tips in how they’ve accomplished this feat?