Let’s face it, indigestion and digestive problems are one of the most common complaints everyone has. Be it indigestion, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating or some other symptom that you’re not going to talk about around the dinner table!
I have become very well educated on the subject of improving your digestion because of my own struggles with, well, ALL of the above. My declining health as a pre teen ended up in a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease, which is inflammation and ulcers in your intestines. I was always tired with a belly ache, would only go poo once a week and had the most foul smelling gas!
As you can imagine, I was the popular kid in class…NOT! I found it so difficult to get better and the medications I was put on came with loads of side effects and only temporarily helped me. It seemed the doctors I saw were only concerned about the inflammation going on and not my digestion, so for a while I too didn’t give it much thought and just considered my symptoms to be ‘my normal’.
Boy was I wrong.
After a long struggle, I got so sick that instead of graduating high school with my classmates, I had surgery to remove a bleeding section of my intestines. It was a dreadful and life changing event that motivated me to take my health in my own hands. This lead me down the rabbit hole of natural health and Naturopathic Medicine.
Now as an ND (Naturopathic Doctor) I have a wealth of knowledge about the body, the digestive system and healing. I can let you in on some of what I’ve discovered so that you can begin discovering how you can improve your digestion.
1. Decrease your stress.
The way we’re designed is clever. If you need to run away from a lion you don’t need to worry about digesting those berries you just ate. So goes for our modern day stressors. The digestive system shuts down in times of stress (traffic, deadlines, lack of sleep, relationship problems) and so if you can slow down, take a few deep breaths before you eat you can really improve your digestion.
2. Use apple cider vinegar or lemon water before a meal.
This ties into how chronic stress affects our digestion. Living a high stress, busy life turns off many digestive functions like producing stomach acid and digestive enzymes. A little apple cider vinegar or lemon water before a meal will help to get those stomach juices flowing!
3. Avoid drinking with your meals.
But I just told you to drink before a meal!? What I mean by this is drinking more that about ¼ cup before or during your meal can dilute the stomach acid and digestive enzymes, making it harder to fully digest your meal. So save the water for between meals to keep yourself hydrated.
4. Cut out Gluten.
Maybe even dairy foods, eggs, corn or soy. Experiment with this and find out what foods are giving you funky gas, crazy bloating and erratic bowel movements. Going to see a Naturopathic Doctor is a good place to start to discover what foods you’re reacting to. Cutting out gluten is a great place to start as there are many people who not only have indigestion issues clear up, but find other issues like chronic headaches, low mood, fatigue, skin problems and much more clear up as well.
5. Eat a high fibre diet.
No this doesn’t mean eat more whole grains like wheat as the media seems to always tell us to do. Eat more veggies! Really, minimum of 5 servings of non-starchy veggies a day will do wonders to correct your indigestion and overall health!