“Those who give themselves indigestion or get drunk, do not know how to eat or drink.”
While such blunt criticism might not be well received in today’s world, there is merit in what the great man said. The sad truth is, many people really do not know how to eat. No wonder indigestion is one of the biggest health problems in the world today.
If we know how to eat properly, know which foods cause indigestion and be aware of the foods that won’t cause indigestion, we would all be in a better place today. But rather than following good nutrition practices, we tend to be steered by all the advertising and marketing surrounding us. The result: We end up eating a whole lot of unhealthy junk that throws our digestion out of whack.
What’s more, we try and solve our digestion problems with drugs, pills, antacids and other chemicals which only make matters worse. The good news is, there are a lot of natural alternatives available to you, and if you rely more on these natural remedies for digestion problems, you can get your digestion back on track.
The most common symptoms of poor digestion are bad breath, burping, bloating, stomach pain. Irritable bowels, diarrhea, and constipation. So let’s start from the top.
Water: A dry mouth is a haven for the bacteria that cause bad breath. So regularly rinse your mouth with plain water. This simple act will temporarily dislodge the bacteria and make your breath a bit more palatable.
Parsley: At the end of a meal, munch a sprig of parsley. Parsley is rich in chlorophyll, a known breath deodorizer with germ-fighting qualities.
Orange: The citric acid in the orange will stimulate your salivary glands. The flow of saliva will help remove the unpleasant, odor-causing material on the back of your tongue.
Natural breath fresheners: Try spices like cloves, fennel, cardamom, anise seeds, and cinnamon. Cloves are rich in eugenol, a potent antibacterial. Anise, which tastes like black licorice, can kill the bacteria that grow on the tongue. And cinnamon is an effective antiseptic.
In addition to the above, it will help to avoid foods that cause bad breath like strong cheeses, garlic, onion…
Ginger: This is an age-old remedy for a whole bunch of stomach problems. Try chewing on a piece of ginger twice a day to minimize burping. If you don’t like the pungent taste, add a bit of honey to soften the blow. Or try ginger tea. Ginger tea is a proven antidote to embarrassment. And while on the subject of tea, our next digestion aid is…
Tea: This is a great way to start the day. Add a pinch of mint to your tea. It acts as an antioxidant and also prevents the gases from building up. You might have notice that most Chinese restaurants always serve herbal tea at every meal. This is an easy and healthy habit to introduce into your daily routine. Having a cup of herbal tea after your meals helps get rid of the burps.
Papaya: This delicious fruit is a digestive blessing that can help rid you of your burping problem. Papaya contains an enzyme called papain that helps in digestion and prevents the build-up of gases in the stomach.
Lemon: If you are a chronic burper, make lemons your best friend. Mix one tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon
juice with a quarter teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and drink it after every meal. It’s like a homemade Alka-Seltzer. This simple trick not only aids digestion, but also takes care of the burps.
Saliva helps neutralize stomach acid. So chew a piece of sugarless gum, suck on a candy. You could even daydream about juicy steaks or cheesecake or any of your favorite foods. Anything to get you to generate and swallow extra saliva.
Baking soda is alkaline, so it neutralizes stomach acid. Mix a half-teaspoon of baking soda and a few drops of lemon juice in a half-cup of warm water. Don’t drink the baking soda by itself. You need the lemon juice to dispel some of the gas baking soda creates in the stomach when it comes in contact with stomach acid.
Vegetable juices: The juices of vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, radishes or beets help to tame the acid in the stomach due to their alkaline nature. Feel free to add a pinch of salt and pepper for flavor. If juicing vegetables is inconvenient or strange to you, just eat some raw vegetables.
Also try these few simple tricks: Try sleeping on your left side. Eat smaller, more frequent meals, and eat meals at least two to three hours before you sleep.
Ginger: In addition to its anti-inflammatory and bad breath-reducing properties, ginger aids in digestion and can ease stomach pains. Fresh ginger is the best form of ginger and I recommend making a simple tea with it. I wouldn’t recommend drinking ginger ale since it is loaded with sugar, and most ginger sodas use artificial flavors (no actual ginger).
Peppermint: Like ginger, fresh mint tea works best to settle the stomach, and all you need is a cup of warm water and a few sprigs of mint to make a tea. Simply chewing on a mint leaf also works. Mint tea can also help with digestion and it stimulates the appetite too.
Chamomile: Not only does chamomile tea soothe an aching stomach, it can also calm the nerves. If you are having trouble sleeping in addition to a stomach ache, homemade chamomile tea will soothe you and your stomach.
Burnt toast: Charcoal helps neutralize the toxins in the system. If you’ve just had too much alcohol, the charcoal in the burnt toast may help absorb some of the alcohol and neutralize the toxin. Black tea or anything with tannins (not wine) also helps neutralize toxins and process the alcohol in your system. Toast is also part of the well-known acronym B.R.A.T. (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast), commonly used to treat children with stomach aches or diarrhea.
Apple cider vinegar: This common digestion aid is often used as an antiseptic, but it can also be used to treat stomach aches, assist with digestion, and also help absorb nutrients from the food you eat. Just put a few teaspoons in a glass of cold or warm water. To help absorb nutrients, drink it before the meal.
Fiber: Just like the three words for good real estate are location, location, location, the three words to avoid constipation are fiber, fiber, fiber. Fiber cannot be digested, and it acts like a sponge. It draws water from its surroundings, making it swell, which softens stool, adds bulk to it, and helps it pass. Some good, fiber-filled foods include beans, apricots, whole grains, berries, broccoli, plums, pears, apples, nuts and even potatoes (not fries though).
Olive oil: Pure olive oil is more than just a healthy and tasty fat, it can also help relieve constipation. It stimulates your digestive system, which helps get things moving through your colon. Try this: In the morning, consume one tablespoon of olive oil. It works best on an empty stomach. You can mix it with a little bit of lemon juice if you like to lighten the flavor (lemon juice also acts as a natural aid for constipation.)
Flaxseed oil: This is a pretty simple home remedy for constipation. It sort of coats the walls of the intestine, as well as the stool, and increases the number of bowel movements you are having. Flaxseed oil combined with orange juice makes for a great constipation-reliever as oranges have a good amount of fiber in them).
When it comes to diarrhea, the most important thing to do is to keep replacing your body’s supply of water and electrolytes. Mix up the perfect electrolyte drink by stirring a half-teaspoon of salt and four teaspoons of sugar into a liter of water. Add a little bit of orange juice, lemon juice or salt substitute for potassium. Drink this entire concoction over regular intervals
Avoid fruit juices. Especially apple juice.
Spoil yourself with the B.R.A.T. diet: Bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. All are bland and soothing, and the bananas and applesauce contain pectin, a type of soluble fiber that soaks up excess fluid in your intestine and slows down the passage of stool.
Avoid fiber: Foods that are rich in roughage can be hard to digest. That means no beans, cabbage or Brussels sprouts.
Probiotics: Eat yogurt containing probiotics. These help to restore healthy levels of helpful bacteria in your intestine.
Black tea: Drink black tea sweetened with sugar. The hot water helps with rehydration and tea contains astringent tannins that help reduce intestinal inflammation. Tannin rich blackberries have long been used as folk treatments.
In addition to all the above symptoms, there is another huge problem that can addressed by cleansing the digestive system – obesity. This is the biggest problem facing Americans. Not just because of the obvious cosmetic reasons. But also because of the secondary complications of obesity: Insulin resistance due to obesity, breathing problems due to obesity, cardiac problems linked to obesity… the list goes on and on.
And one of the best way to address this is to be aware of what goes into your digestive system. After all, as the saying goes, you are what you eat.