Do you feel like you are walking a tight rope when it comes to your gut health? No room for error – gah! As much as I’d like it to be, digestion is never a ‘set it and forget it’ thing. Digestion is much like a garden that needs constant tending. You can’t abuse it and expect it to just continue to hum along peacefully. It barks back.
This summer, truth be told, my digestion went way off the rails. I mean way off. It sucked. Completely. It was humbling at best. I mean, digestion is what I do and yet, and yet, I found myself ignoring my own symptoms and trompling right on through anyway. (Anyone else do that?) And for me this means PAIN.
Here are a few tactics I used to bring it back in check.
- Follow 1 Major Food-Combining Rule.
No starches and proteins at the same meal. Starches slow down the breakdown of the protein and ultimately make it harder. When your digestion is off, you want to simplify digestion, not make it harder. This right here can make or break your meal. (Many people like to tell me they don’t do meat anymore – too hard to digest. The combination of starches and proteins is more likely the problem, not the protein itself.) The same rule goes for sugars (including fruit) and flesh proteins at the same meal. (Want an easy cheat-sheet for my top food combining rules? Download it here.)
- Put on a Band-Aid.
We put on band-aids if we scrape our knees to protect it and allow healing, right? We need to do the same for our insides. We need to supply our digestive system some healing herbs and foods that specifically support healing the digestive tract. Try drinking aloe before meals, kraut juice, chlorophyll or taking marshmallow root or slippery elm in capsule form. After a meal, try some soothing ginger tea.
- Slow DOWN.
Digestion is much like a series of dominoes and if the dominoes aren’t lined up at the beginning, no amount of fixing at the bottom is going to solve it. Digestion technically begins in the brain, then goes to the mouth then travels down to the stomach. These three places are the first places to begin supporting digestion. Slow down and take a moment of gratitude for the meal before you. Take a few deep breaths before that first bite. Then, remember to chew, chew, chew your food to make it more the consistency of baby food before swallowing.
- Stimulate Your Own Stomach Acid.
Whenever we are under stress of any kind (which could be just a never-ending to-do list, too much sugar for your body to handle or not enough sleep last night) our stomach’s ability to produce stomach acid decreases. It just can’t do it then. So, if your digestion is off, it’s a safe bet you aren’t producing enough stomach acid. You literally need to go in and hit ‘reset’. Before your next meal, try adding the juice of half a lemon or a tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar to your water or use bitters such as those from Urban Moonshine. All of these help trigger your own gastric juices to start flowing and ultimately better digest your food.
When gut health is off, many people think the first place to start is with a probiotic. And although probiotics can be highly therapeutic and beneficial it isn’t the first place to begin. Digestion is a top down system and you must start supporting it right from the beginning.
Blessedly, with the help of these tactics, my digestion came back on line and I’m feeling much better. But, it was a huge reminder that digestion is never something that just ‘happens’. We need to be gentle with our gut health and ultimately with ourselves.
If your digestion isn’t quite right, gives these tips a try. But if you find you are still stuck, check out my Digestion Reset. Sometimes a little outside perspective can make all the difference.