5 Tips To Improving Your Digestion
I know. There’s a lot of information out there surrounding digestion and gut health. My name is Melissa and as a women’s health and fitness coach, I’m here to make it simple for you! (Spoiler alert: you shouldn’t be relying on coffee, supplements, or stimulants of any kind to trigger a bathroom break.)
Water: It’s not what you think.
While consuming adequate water throughout the day will keep things moving along in your digestive tract, we actually want to minimize water consumption during mealtimes. This allows your stomach acid to do its job and start breaking down the food you’re consuming. Sips here and there are fine of course; just keep it to a minimum.
Stress: Your meal environment matters.
When it’s time to eat, you want to make sure you’re in your least-stressed state. This means making sure you’re seated, chewing your food slowly, and ideally not distracted. (That includes scrolling or watching TV!) Additionally, you want to avoid tough conversations over a meal, as this can hinder digestion as well.
Bonus tip: Try taking 5 deep breaths before you begin your meal. This will stimulate your vagus nerve, an extremely important nerve that manages complex processes throughout your digestive system, including signaling stomach muscles to contract and push food into the small intestine.
Movement: A quick walk can do wonders.
Once you’re finished with a meal, try taking a quick 10-15 minute walk (ideally outside for the vitamin D and fresh air, but taking a few laps around the office is great too). This helps stimulate the digestion process and you’ll be surprised how much better you feel, as opposed to going straight back to your desk with a stomach full of food. This is also a great way to work on your step goal throughout the day!
Sleep: Yep, it matters.
Sleep is when our bodies clean up, rest, and recover; there are literally hundreds of processes happening overnight. When we don’t get adequate sleep (both quantity and quality matter), this puts our bodies further into a stressed state. And when the body is stressed, it’s chronically living in fight-or-flight mode. This means that digestion falls down the priority list. (Ever get super nervous before a presentation and immediately get stomach cramps? This is why!)
Fiber: Switch it up.
We all know fiber is important for digestion, but keep in mind that the type of fiber you’re consuming matters! There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber helps soak up extra water in the digestive tract and turns to a gel-like substance (slowing things down), while insoluble fiber helps add bulk (pushes things through). Make sure you’re getting a variety of both; and the general rule of thumb is 12-13g of fiber per 1000 calories you’re consuming.
Soluble fiber examples:
- Sweet potatoes
- Brussel sprouts
Insoluble fiber examples:
- Chia seeds
- Brown rice
BONUS: Don’t try to be perfect.
Just do your best to be mindful and listen to your body! The more you practice these habits, the more in-tune with your body you’ll become.