“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.” – Ayurvedic Proverb
For how true the above statement may be, diet is only part of the story. It is not only what you eat, but how your body absorbs and metabolizes your food. You could be eating healthily, but if your gut is out of balance and inflamed your cells may be deprived of the nutrients it needs for all the systems of your body to function optimally. A healthy digestive system is fundamental to all aspects of health. Before rushing to the doctor or drugstore for medicines to alleviate discomfort and don’t address the underlying cause (and may even exacerbate it), try making these lifestyle changes and see if anything changes.
1. EXERCISE to strengthen muscles that support the digestive system and reduce stress. While any form of exercise is beneficial, belly dance uniquely tones the abdominal muscles that help food move through the body and aids digestive health. Another benefit of belly dance is that is draws loving attention to a part of the body many women feel disconnected from, which can be healing.
2. DON’T OVEREAT, which taxes the digestive system. Eat until three-quarters full to give your body time to process nutrients. It takes 20-30 minutes for your gut to tell your brain you are full. Digestion is a very energy-consuming activity that puts stress on the system. Consider giving your system a break with intermittent fasting if that is appropriate for you.
3. Allowing time for GRATITUDE before eating helps the body prepare for digestion. Breathe in the smell and let your eyes delight in the colors of your food. Feed yourself nourishing thoughts. To support your digestive health in a loving way, check out Louise Hay’s post How You Digest Life.
4. Reduce or ELIMINATE PROCESSED FOODS that rob the body of nutrients. The body has to supply its own energy to process these so-called foods. Rather than contributing value to the body system, processed foods drain the body of precious nutrients.
5. SLOW down and CHEW your food thoroughly. Saliva contains enzymes that aid digestion, and the more we slow down and chew the more these enzymes are able to break down our food before we swallow it. Gulping down food or eating on the run inhibits this important process and puts unnecessary stress on the system. The more time you spend chewing, the easier it will be for your stomach to continue breaking down your food.
6. Eat more FIBER-rich foods such as legumes which dilute the effects of toxins and remove bad bacteria from the colon. Soluble fiber absorbs toxins and unneeded cholesterol, and insoluble fiber hastens elimination. Join the Eat More Plants Challenge to up your fiber intake.
7. BOOST STOMACH ACID by adding freshly squeezed lemon juice or raw fermented apple cider vinegar to your water each morning. Heartburn, gas, belching, fatigue and headaches could all be signs of low stomach acid. (For a potent immune-boosting elixir with apple cider vinegar, check out this Fire Cider recipe.)
8. DRINK more WATER and eat water-filled fruits and vegetables, such as lettuce, celery, cucumber and tomatoes. Water is necessary for the health of the mucosal lining and small intestine bacteria that support proper digestion and the absorption of nutrients. Too little water in the system can lead to ulcers, indigestion, heartburn, fatigue, brain fog, memory loss, and constipation.
9. Incorporate PROBIOTICS into your diet through fermented foods such as sauerkraut, tempeh or kefir. Good gut bacteria strengthens the immune system, reduces chronic inflammation, and helps protect against leaky gut.
10. Bring in DIGESTIVE ENZYMES found in live, raw, or sprouted foods. There are three kinds of enzymes needed for the breakdown of foods: lipase for fat, amylase for carbohydrates, and protease for protein. The best source of enzymes are live foods (raw or sprouted) but digestive enzyme supplements are also an option.
11. STIMULATE the vagus nerve through meditative breathing, yoga, foot massage, laughter, gargling, humming and singing to music. This will put your body in “rest and digest” mode. Learn to meditate
12. COOK AT HOME so you are in control of what is going in your body. Healthcare begins in the kitchen, and Saladmaster is a powerful tool to protect your health and that of your family.
13. Reduce heavy metal and chemical exposure by REMOVING TOXIC COOKWARE from your kitchen, especially anything with a non-stick surface.
14. REMOVE foods your body cannot tolerate. Consult with a skilled practitioner to uncover what those foods may be giving you trouble.