What does good digestion look like?
The process of digestion is probably more complicated than you know, but there are simple signs that your digestion system is working as it should. If your digestion system is working well, you should be going to the bathroom once or twice every day. Yes, every day! So many of my clients come to me thinking they are not constipated but then tell me they go to the bathroom every couple of days. While this pattern might be regular for them, it is not ideal. Pooping every day is critical in your body’s daily detox.
After you eat you should not regularly experience any digestive symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, bloating (although some is normal depending on what and how much you eat), and overall discomfort.
Your digestion has a large impact on your overall health. Good digestion allows for energy, focus, a strong immune system, and much more!
Signs your digestion may be off:
Some telltale signs your digestion is off include chronic constipation (3 + days), chronic diarrhea, acid-reflux (heartburn and/or burping after meals), chronic bloating, excessive burping, abdominal pain or cramping, nausea, and vomiting. Chances are if you feel any of these symptoms regularly something is off!
If you have a diagnosis of GERD or IBS, please reach out to a medical professional, like me, with an integrative approach. These conditions and their symptoms can often be resolved once their underlying causes are addressed.
Underlying causes of poor digestion:
Suffering from any of the symptoms above? Well, there’s a reason! Listed below are some common underlying causes of poor digestion:
- Lack of digestive enzymes
- SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) or dysbiosis (imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut)
- Low Stomach Acid
- Poor Gallbladder function
- Slow gut motility
- Food allergies/intolerances
- Undiagnosed GI conditions like Celiac Disease, Crohn’s, Colitis, etc.
Note that these conditions require diagnosis and treatment from a medical professional.
Tips to help your digestion:
Your digestion is impacted by SO many things. Have you ever noticed then when you are really stressed, don’t get enough sleep, or are chained to your desk all day that your digestion suffers as a result? Life can get crazy, and while sometimes these things do happen it is important to recognize what you can be doing to support healthy digestion!
Lifestyle changes you should make to optimize your digestion include:
- Getting movement in daily (even for just 20-30 min)
- Sleeping for a minimum of 7 hrs nightly
- Reducing your stress (this can be through exercise, mediation, journaling, a hobby, or whatever else works for you)
Diet related changes you should consider:
- Chew your food and slow down!
- Drink more water (aim for half your body weight in ounces)
- Avoid water around meals (don’t drink more than 8 oz before or after a meal to allow your digestive juices to function properly)
- Increase your fiber intake (hint: as you do this increase your water too)
- Avoid processed foods and aim for whole-foods
- Add prebiotics and probiotics into your diet
- Experiment with digestive enzymes
- Eat warm foods (they’re easier for your body to digest
- Figure out your food intolerances and allergies!
Foods that have natural digestive properties:
When you have a stomach ache or feel bloated, you may have been told to eat/drink ginger or have warm water with lemon. The fact is that some foods have natural digestive properties which can help resolve your symptoms leaving you feeling better. Below is a list of these foods you may want to try:
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Herbal teas (ginger, mint, turmeric, peppermint, fennel, and chamomile)
- Herbs (parsley, cilantro, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary)
Your digestion is an integral part of your health, and hard to ignore when not functioning properly. There are many symptoms of poor digestion, but with each symptom, there is an underlying cause that can be treated to optimize your digestion.