5 Simple Ways To Improve Your Digestive Health
Digging into a delicious meal should be a moment that you can cherish during a jam-packed day. Whether shared with friends and family or enjoyed in the solace of your precious alone time, food energizes and fuels your body while also satisfying your taste buds. But for some, cramps and painful bloating follow almost every meal, and pesky digestive ailments disrupt the joys of eating. It can be so bad that the beloved daily activity becomes one you approach with hesitation or even dread.
Food allergies and sensitivities can most certainly play a substantial role in what foods make you feel less than satisfied (or just flat-out gross). But in addition to the food you eat, the way you eat can have a significant impact on your digestive (and overall) health. Below are five simple ways to conquer the pains that make eating feel like a burden instead of a pleasure.
1. Chew your food thoroughly.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but chewing food until it essentially liquifies is crucial to a healthy digestive system. Eating on the go or inhaling meals when you’re hungry can disturb your body’s breakdown of food and derail the rest of its digestion. Improper chewing can lead to even more severe consequences, including choking, aspiration, malnutrition and dehydration. To avoid these negative effects, exercise patience when chewing. Twenty to 30 chews per bite of food is usually a good rule of thumb to follow.
2. Take time for mindfulness.
The benefits of putting more time and thought into your everyday eating habits form the foundation of “mindful eating.” With roots in Buddhist mindfulness practices, mindful eating stresses the importance of taking careful time to consume and consider the food on your plate. The Center for Mindful Eating explains that this practice “helps us become aware of our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations related to eating, reconnecting us with our innate inner wisdom about hunger and satiety.” Eating slowly, delighting in the flavors and textures of food, can uplift your health and provide valuable time for reflection.
3. Adjust your eating schedule.
Setting time aside for meals at optimal intervals throughout the day can positively impact digestion, as well as weight loss. Late-night snacking usually takes an unhealthy turn as you unwind from the pressures of the day and mindlessly munch on sugary treats while watching “The Bachelor.” On the flipside, “intermittent fasting” — a new buzzword and trend in the health community — makesappropriate time for proper digestion to, in turn, promote a healthier lifestyle. Various methods exist, including Eat-Stop-Eat (fasting for one or two 24-hour periods a week) and 16:8 (fasting for 16 hours a day and eating throughout the remaining 8-hour period). No matter which structure you choose, giving your body time to let the digestive process run its course will foster a more productive and nourishing system.
4. Minimize your stress levels.
Stress can negatively impact a wide range of issues concerning your physical and mental health. And “stress eating” can further complicate the issue as your body struggles to break down large quantities of food. Even the way you sit or stand can impact digestion. Bad posture can cause acid reflux and heartburn — even irritable bowel-type symptoms. Using mealtimes to slowly and methodically refuel while embracing stress-relieving activities during the day can improve both your digestion and psychology.
5. Drink lots of water.
Water truly has refreshing and borderline magical qualities. Increasing your water intake can boost many of your body’s essential functions and enables a healthier, more effective digestive system. Between every bite of your meals, try to take a sip of water to hasten the breakdown of food and allow time for your body to process each morsel. Even more, break up a meal with frequent sips so you can better realize when you’re full and avoid overeating (which causes even more stomach cramps). Increasing the amount of water you drink alone can do wonders for your overall wellness.
Originally published on Swirled: