Sluggish digestion might not be regular conversation around the dinner table, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t annoying, uncomfortable and downright troublesome.
I hear it all too often. Digestive complaints are very common and there are so many ways poor digestion can present itself. Symptoms like bloating, constipation, diarrhea, nausea and hives could all indicate your system isn’t working as well as it should.
However, treating only the symptoms could leave you with a cabinet full of different medications that can become overwhelming. And you don’t want to suffer in silence. Those over-the-counter digestion aids like Tums and Pepto Bismol can help provide relief from the symptoms, but you are better off looking at natural ways to move your digestion along, before the discomfort begins.
What chewing gum and stress have to do with digestion
With the help of these simple tips, you could be a lot happier in the bathroom. Let me help you get back the joy that once came from a good meal, without the worry of feeling awful afterward!
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1. Slow down
If you eat too fast you have a higher chance of eating too much and not chewing your food properly. Alongside eating regular frequent meals, keep in mind it is better for your digestion if your portions are small, and you slow down and savor your food. Taste every bite! Not chewing properly makes digesting quickly and fully much more difficult.
That simple act of chewing your food is something you shouldn’t overlook. Chewing breaks down food into smaller particles so you can digest them properly, with your saliva lubricating the food so it passes more easily through your system.
So slow and steady…and make sure you stop eating when you are feeling full, no matter how much you enjoy the meal and could go for seconds (or thirds!). When you’re eating out at a restaurant with those larger, often richer portions, don’t feel as though you need to clean your plate – ask your server to package the rest to take home for a second meal.
2. Chew sugarless gum
Chewing gum could be beneficial if you suffer from heartburn or acid reflux. Researchers from Kings College London conducted a study that appeared in the Journal of Dental Research. The 31 participants saw a reduction in their reflux symptoms when they chewed a piece of sugarless gum half an hour after a spicy meal. Worth a try!
3. Drink up
You may have been told that drinking water dilutes the digestive juices which can cause you to digest food slower. Not true; according to the Mayo Clinic, drinking water while you eat helps to break down your food so it is easier to absorb nutrients. So drink up! Whether you are feeling thirsty during or after a meal, water can do no wrong when it comes to healthy digestion. Studies also show that having water before you eat will help fill you up, so you won’t be tempted to overeat.
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4. Don’t stress
If you have ever “choked” under stress, you will know there is a strong connection between stress and digestion. Being stressed out can increase the amount of acid in your stomach leading to indigestion, reflux and nausea.
Stress can activate the “fight or flight” response in your central nervous system which, in turn, shuts down the blood flow to your digestive tract, which may cause problems. The best way to lower stress is to get a bit of moderate exercise every day. Something as easy as taking a walk before a stressful event can keep your nerves, and your digestion, in order.
Some people swear by an early morning walk to get the blood flowing, but I’m also an advocate for a walk in the evening after dinner. Since dinner is typically your largest meal of the day, a walk helps boost digestion before you turn in for the night (which can help you to sleep better and fall asleep faster, too!) So try 15 to 20 minutes of walking in the evening to relax and unwind.
5. Peppermint tea
Adding in a cup of peppermint tea should be an easy one! It brings quick relief and tastes delicious and refreshing. The medicinal use of peppermint leaves for digestion dates back as far as ancient Egypt. Historical anecdotes aside, one thing is for certain, a few sips after a big meal can get sluggish digestion on its way.
A study that appeared in Phytotherapy Research Journal in 2006 reported peppermint tea (or Mentha piperita L) showed calming effects on the entire gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and the central and peripheral nervous system, in a number of human trials. The journal also noted the tea works as a pain-reliever and soothes the respiratory tract. That’s pretty powerful for a simple tea!
Good digestion can be a simple fix
Digestion tends to be overlooked until it is causing you pain or discomfort. It’s never too late to start making some small changes. Try these easy, natural tips to leave you feeling a lot more confident and comfortable. Relief can be this easy.