These days, we all know someone who has some kind of digestive issue. Unfortunately, the modern world is not friendly to your tummy. But there are some simple ways that you can support poor digestion and optimise the nutrients you get out of your food.
Tips To Support Poor Digestion
A lot of poor digestion comes back to low stomach acid – the acid needed to break down proteins in the stomach. Stress, nutrient deficiencies, gut flora imbalances and even genetics can leave you at risk of low stomach acid. While you can’t fix these overnight, you can introduce acids into your diet to support the digestive process.
Use lemon juice, vinegar or orange juice in your salad dressings and other condiments.
Manage your stress around meals
Seems strange – but stress can make a huge difference to how you digest a meal. Ever noticed how your appetite can drop when you’re super-stressed? That’s because your nervous system shuts down the digestive process so you can deal with the problem. Unfortunately, that means that the food you eat when stressed is poorly digested.
If you are having a very stressful day, take a few minutes to just breathe before you eat your meal. This will help switch the nervous system into digestion mode.
Marinate your proteins
Protein is often hard for people to digest for a variety of reasons. But there’s one very simple step to address poor digestion of protein: marinating them before cooking. By using either acids (as discussed above) or enzyme-containing foods like papaya and kiwifruit, you pre-digest the proteins, making them easier to absorb into the body.
Marinate red meat, chicken and even fish for at least an hour before cooking. You can even marinate it overnight in the fridge and cook the next day.
Cook slow and low
It might be more of a technique for the cooler months. But slow-cooking foods can be a great way to prepare foods for optimal digestion. In fact, that’s why soups and stews are often suggested for older people – it’s easier to break down and absorb. The protein, in particular, is much easier for the body to process when it’s cooked slow and low. That’s why it’s so tender and tasty after a day in the slow cooker!
Soak and sprout
As we discussed last week, a great way to prepare plant foods with anti-nutrients is to soak, sprout and/or activate them. This reduces anti-nutrients that block your absorption and can irritate the gut. So you get more of the goodness out of every mouthful!
So try soaking your nuts, seeds and legumes to reduce digestive symptoms and boost your nutrient intake. You can even do it with some cereals, such as oats!
We don’t just eat with our bodies – our minds need to be engaged, too. When you focus on your food, you will digest it better. You’ll notice the aroma, the texture and the flavour, which your body responds to by producing more digestive enzymes. So turn off the TV, put down your smartphone, and take 15 minutes to just eat your food. Savour it!
Chew your food
While we’re at it – slow down and chew your food! The first step of digestion happens in your mouth. The more broken down the food is when it reaches the gut, the more nutrition that can be extracted from it. If you’re eating carbohydrates, some enzymes are produced in the mouth that help to break them down. So take your time and chew your food – don’t just inhale it!
If you find you have poor digestion, you might want to speak to a health practitioner to help optimise your nutrition. I offer a limited number of online consultations – to learn more and book in, head over here.