By Lauren Denos: 3/31/2015 (Nutrition)

Those with impaired digestion understand how it can impact your life. Let's look at how you can improve it.

Digestion is an important topic. It’s how your body turns what you eat into something useful for your body in the form of energy. This food, in turn, is what rebuilds every part of your body as you read this. When they digestive system is not working correctly then our bodies do not absorb all the nutrients from our foods, which means we are not getting the best quality fuel for our body.

There is so much talk about the body needing to be as alkaline as possible that many people do not realize that your stomach and small intestines are meant to be acidic! It becomes less acidic the further into the large intestine you go. This acid is needed so that your body can process the food you eat.

Is your stomach acidic enough? Believe it or not, you can have too little stomach acid, and this can cause many issues. Some are linking low stomach acid to a variety of disorders, such as: Candida overgrowth, Chronic Fatigue, food allergies and bloating. Just to name a few.

There is a lot that goes into the digestive system and there are whole text books that cover this system. But I do not think, for the sake of this article, I have to elaborate further on how the digestion system works for you to understand that it’s very important for your system to function at its best. So what can you do to improve your digestive system? There are things you should be avoiding and things you should be adding in. Let's take a look at both categories.

Things to Avoid

#1 Drinking too much liquid with meals. When you drink a ton of liquid with a meal, it actually waters down the acid in the stomach. Sip small amounts of water instead. If you are someone who must have more liquids with your meals, then you may want to test out adding apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to a drink. This is because it is theorized to improve the acidic levels in the stomach.

#2 Chronic antacids use. Antacids can be helpful from time to time, but they are used as a way of reducing the stomach acid. The problem is that there are more people saying that stomach problems such as acid reflux are not from too much stomach acid, but actually not enough. If you are using antacids way too much, it is time to talk to your doctor about this.

#3 Eating too much at a time. Sometimes you are having trouble digesting simply because your stomach is not handling the amount you put in it. Other times, you may still feel hungry, but your stomach only really wants two cups of food at most at a time. You simply may be putting your stomach on over-time to keep up with how much food you are ingesting.

#4 Eating too much of a nutrient. You could be over-eating a specific nutrient that is making it hard for your body to cope. This is common with too much fats. When you are eating heavy meals all the time, the body is overwhelmed with processing all that fat. Yes, fat is an important vital nutrient, but you need to keep it in check and not overdo it.

#5 Don't let yourself get ravenous. It is so easy when you are working a full time career, taking care of a family and all your other daily chores or tasks to forget to eat a meal. The problem is then you become so hungry that you eat a large meal, which goes back to the first point of eating too much at a time. Generally speaking, you don't want your stomach to be too full or too empty, either extreme can cause issues for some people.

#6 Know your trouble foods. Many people have specific foods that their systems do not like. This is something that is very individual. Some people may not tolerate garlic, some grains, some dairy and other red meat. It can be anything, but it is up to you to figure out what that is. When you know what this food is, you can work with it.

#7 Reduced refined foods. For many people it is that they eat so much fast food and refined foods. Many peoples’ systems just don't digest this food well. It is one thing when you are eating some fast food every so often because a meeting ran late or because you are traveling, but it does not need to be a daily occurrence. Besides there are so many quick options for healthy food now days.

#8 Lower your stress. Stress is hard on everything in our bodies, including our digestive system. Think about times that you have been so upset you could not eat. Or the opposite. When you were so stressed that you ate way too much. Stress affects us in a lot of ways. When you’re stressed out and your stomach is upset, you are not going to be digesting food the way your body normally would. You can check out these techniques for reducing your stress.

Things to Add In

#1 Lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Both of these are said to improve acidity level within the stomach. You may want to have some 30 minutes before eating. For the lemon juice, you can always mix it with water and stevia or honey to make some lemonade. With the apple cider vinegar, you can mix it with a fruity type cold tea like Tazo passion tea, then mix some stevia or honey. When you mix them this way, it makes them very enjoyable as well as good for you.

#2 Digestive enzymes. When you are having issues with digestion, then give it a hand. Digestive enzymes do exactly what they sound like, they help you digest your food. Our body produces a variety of enzymes to help breakdown foods, but sometimes our bodies are not processing as much as we need. The digestive enzymes support your body adding in the enzymes it is lacking.

#3 Drink plenty of water. Water is what helps your body break-down particles, and also flushes unwanted stuff out of the body. It is extremely important for everything in our bodies to function correctly, but it is better that you drink the bulk of your water and liquids between meals not with it. As we said above, too much liquid during meals can water down the acids in your stomach and impair your digestion.

#4 Exercise. I know that most people only think of losing weight or building muscle when they workout, but it is about so much more than that. When you exercise, your whole system moves better, including your blood. As we know, blood flow is imperative for good digestion. Heavy exercising can be great for over all blood flow in the body, but when you just get done eating your blood flow is needed to digest your food. For this reason, do not do your heavy exercising after a meal. Although, light exercise that increases your heart rate and breathing after a meal can help digestion, since it stimulates the natural contractions of the intestinal muscles, which helps you food move through the intestines.



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