Do you eat all the healthy foods but still suffer with poor digestion? I’ve been there! Do you experience bloating, constipation, or diarrhea? Or do you have leaky gut, eczema, and/or another autoimmune disease? Poor digestion could very well be contributing to those issues. I shared in this post that eczema and other autoimmune diseases are usually a result of leaky gut. In this post I shared how to heal leaky gut. One thing that can help to heal your gut or help prevent you from getting leaky gut in the future, is to support good digestion. Keep reading for 10 tips for supporting good digestion and, therefore, help heal your eczema.
What Is Digestion?
Digestion is the process of breaking down food, so that the nutrients can be absorbed and used by the body. It’s also the process of excreting the waste – whatever our body doesn’t need. You may be eating really nutritious foods, but if your digestion is off, you’re probably not absorbing all those nutrients.
It is so important to make sure you are digesting your food thoroughly, to make sure you’re getting all those great nutrients. Also, non-digested food can irritate your gut more and contribute to leaky gut. So use the following tips to help fix your digestion.
10 Tips for Good Digestion
1. Lemon Water
You’ve probably heard this one before, but starting your day with a glass of lemon water if great for digestion. In the morning when you wake up, start by drinking a cup of warm water with the juice and zest of half a lemon, a pinch of sea salt, and a little honey (if you want to sweeten it). This will help hydrate you, energize you, get things moving, and support your digestion.
Fun fact – lemons are acidic, but they actually help to balance the pH in your body and make it more alkaline. Lemons are also a great source of Vitamin C and potassium. So, this drink will not only help your digestion, but it will also lead to healthier immune system, bones, brain, and heart.
A lot of us are living in a state of stress and rushing around here and there to get things done. Well, when we’re stressed, we’re using our sympathetic nervous system which is also knows as our “fight or flight mode.” It’s our survival mode. Our body is just focused on surviving, not performing optimally and digesting our food well.
When we are relaxed, we switch on our parasympathetic nervous system, also known as “rest and digest.” Because, literally, we are able to digest our food. We’re not worried about running for our lives. So, make sure you’re sitting down. Take a few deep breaths before you eat, pray, give thanks for your food, and eat slowly and calmly.
3. Eat Mindfully
This goes along with the last one. Not only should we eat slowly and relaxed, but we should also be mindful while we’re eating. This will help you feel relaxed also. Think about what you’re eating, how it tastes, and how it makes you feel. Savor the flavors.
Do your taste buds like it? Does it agree with your stomach? Does it flare up your eczema, cause you to feel sluggish, give you stomach aches? Listen to your body and stop eating when your stomach feels full.
I’m not in favor of the clean plate club. I make sure my kids eat some bites of each type of food they’re given. But if they say they’re full, I don’t make them keep eating to finish everything on their plate. They just won’t get any kind of dessert or snack later. The same thing goes for me. If I’m full, I stop eating and save what’s left for lunch the next day.
Prefer to watch video rather than reading? Check out my tips for good digestion on YouTube here. While you’re at it, feel free to subscribe to my channel so you stay up-to-date on videos like this one!
4. Chew Your Food Well
Digestion actually starts with our eyes, nose, and brain. When we see, smell, or even think about food, our brain signals our salivary glands to start making saliva. It starts to get ready to digest what you’re about to put in your mouth. Then the next step of digestion is chewing your food.
Chewing physically breaks down the food into smaller pieces and it also blends our food with saliva, turning it into more of a liquid, so that the stomach can break down the food more easily. So, to support your digestion from the start, chew your food well – until it is almost liquid.
5. Drink Water
Another way to support good digestion is to be sure to drink plenty of water during the day. Water helps keep things moving and keeps you from getting constipated. Drink about half your body weight in oz of water a day. So, if you weight 150 lbs., try to drink 75 oz of water. But, of course, adjust that based on your activity level and needs.
But, don’t drink all your water during meals. When you drown your food in water, it dilutes your digestive enzymes in your stomach. And that causes your stomach to not be able to digest food as well. So, don’t drink much water 30 minutes before you eat, while you’re eating, and after you eat. Your saliva should be good enough to help liquify the food, but drink a little bit of warm water if you need to help the food go down.
Read this post for more reasons why you should drink plenty of water and tips for getting enough water in during the day.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar
Some people’s digestive issues are due to a lack of stomach acid. That’s probably you if you experience gas, bloating, burping, reflux, or heartburn. After you chew your food and swallow it, it goes from your esophagus into your stomach. And there, your stomach acid breaks it down further. This is called chemical digestion.
Many people think if you have acid reflux, that’s because you have too much stomach acid. They take antacids to help relieve the symptoms, and it DOES relieve symptoms. However, it’s important to actually get to the root cause, instead of just relieving symptoms. Most of the time, the problem is actually LOW stomach acid.
Low stomach acid actually causes an overgrowth of bacteria and undigested carbohydrates, which creates pressure or bloating. That pressure pushes some stomach contents, including acid, up into the esophagus. Even though it may be only a tiny bit of acid, the esophagus cannot handle acid like the stomach can.
Stomach acid decreases as we age. So older people and people with an autoimmune disease are likely to have low stomach acid. To aid digestion and increase your stomach acid, drink a cup of water with 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar added to it about 15 minutes before your meals.
This is my favorite apple cider vinegar. It contains “the mother,” which is full of beneficial bacteria. It has prebiotic and probiotic benefits – great for gut health!
Another way to increase your stomach acid is to use natural supplements. A great supplement to take is Betaine HCL with Pepsin. HCL stands for hydrochloric acid. This supplement increases the acid in your stomach, helps break down protein, and keeps the bacteria down in your small intestine.
Follow the directions on the bottle and consult your doctor before taking. Taking TOO much HCL can cause problems, like ulcers. But, it’s recommended to take 1 HCL pill before meals for the first few days. If you don’t notice any problems after that, gradually increase your HLC with pepsin to 2-3 before each meal. If you do experience any problem, like indigestion or a burning sensation, after taking it, back down on your dose.
Another great supplement to take is digestive enzymes, like these. These have a blend of enzymes to digest and absorb the nutrients in proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. So, if you have any signs of low stomach acid and trouble digesting food, it may be best to supplement with both HCL with pepsin and digestive enzymes before each meal.
8. Probiotic Rich Foods
You probably know that we have bacteria in our gut. The majority of it should be in our large intestine. When we have too much in our small intestine or when we have too much bad bacteria and not enough good bacteria it causes a condition called SIBO. SIBO Stands for Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth. To help keep the population of good bacteria up and keep our gut microbiome in balance, it’s important to eat foods that are rich in probiotics.
Probiotics, or good bacteria, help to digest food and increase certain digestive enzymes. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, and kimchi and fermented drinks like kombucha and kefir are full of beneficial bacteria. Like I said earlier, apple cider vinegar with the mother is also a source of probiotics. If you don’t think you’re eating enough fermented foods, you can also supplement with a good quality probiotic supplement.
The stomach is very acidic and many probiotics cannot survive that harsh condition and don’t actually ever make it to your large intestine. So, it’s important to take one that is soil or spore based and has a good variety of bacteria in it. This is a great band I’ve used love. The brand I recently started using is Viome. Viome tests your stool and can tell what good bacteria you need. And they send you personalized probiotic supplements to help boost your personal gut health. I love a good personalized supplement.
Good bacteria feeds off fiber. Fiber-rich foods are what are called prebiotic. So, in order to feed your good bacteria and push excess bad bacteria out, it’s important to eat plenty of food rich in fiber, like fruits and vegetables.
Eat foods like sweet potatoes, oats, chia seeds, apples, beans, broccoli, and carrots daily. Not only does it boost your good bacteria, but it also keeps things moving. We don’t actually digest fiber. Our good bacteria eats and ferments it. And then it moves on through the digestive tract and adds bulk to our waste. More fiber helps to keep things moving down the tract and out the other end. So, if you’re constipated, add more fiber to your diet.
Movement and exercise get our blood flowing and help our stomach muscles push the food along. Now, I talked about relaxing while eating. That’s still important. Don’t eat really quick and then go run in a race. Let your food start to digest before you do serious physical activity. But a nice evening walk after you eat dinner is great for aiding digestion. Read more tips for getting in movement and creating a more active lifestyle here.
I hope these tips help and you find some relief soon for your digestive issues. I’d love to know in the comments if you try any of these things or if you have any other tips that you’ve tried to fix your digestion.