You are what you eat, right?
And to take this one step further, you are what you eat and absorb as fuel.
Without good, strong digestion, the healthiest diet won’t do you as much good as you think.
Gas and bloating are two very common symptoms my clients struggle with when they first start working with me. Digestive dysfunction indicates that my clients aren’t able to refuel their bodies appropriately with the nutrients they’re taking in.
When digestion if off, we feel fatigued, irritable, and frumpy too.
How Our Digestive Systems Become A Mess
Unfortunately, gas and bloating are considered almost “normal” signs of health because so many women struggle with both. Because of years of poor dietary habits and stress, our digestive systems have taken a beaten.
And now don’t do what they’re supposed to do with our food.
The Standard American Diet – rich in processed grains, unhealthy fats, poor quality protein, and junk foods – has ruined so many digestive systems.
Plus, a lot of us have treated our stomachs as trash compactors, just shoveling in more and more food even when we don’t really need (or want) it.
I mean, how many times have you piled on dessert after dinner simply because you craved something sweet despite being very full?
Ya, I’m guilty of that too.
Yo-yo dieting, life and work stress, and overeating have all led to a messed up digestive system, leading to gas and bloating.
Why Gas And Bloating?
Do you know why these happen?
Because your intestines, which house more bacteria than cells in your body and make up approximately 70% of your immune system, become inflamed and that delicate microbiome gets imbalanced.
It’s a combination of eating the wrong foods, not eating at the right time or in the right mind frame, and eating the wrong combination of foods.
Most of your food is digested in your small intestines. What’s left undigested, gets passed to your large intestines where your bacteria reside. Depending on how much is left undigested, food ferments with that bacteria, yeast and fungi and causes gas, followed by bloating (if the gas can’t expel).
Eating too quickly while simultaneously swallowing air is a big contributor to gas and bloating.
An imbalanced gut while eating certain high-fiber foods can create more gas than other foods.
And eating protein with complex carbohydrates when digestion is weak can lead to discomfort.
Tips to Help Improve Digestion
It’s not enough to treat the symptom – or just focus on reducing gas with OTC solutions or one-off gas and bloating reduction tips. It’s best for overall health and improved energy to work on creating a healthier, stronger digestive system.
Before You Eat
Always sit down at a table to eat, and avoid distractions like books, computers, TV or smartphones. Eating while distracted increases the speed at which you eat, making it so much easier to overeat and inhale air between bites.
Take 3-5 deep breaths while looking at your meal before you begin. This will stimulate saliva, your first digestive enzyme.
Chew each bite very, very thoroughly. Especially protein. Chew until it feels like there is nothing left of the food before swallowing. And put your utensils down between bites.
Take your time. Stretch out each meal to about 20 minutes. The slower and more mindfully you eat, the more your digestive system has time to do its thing. Plus, you’ll probably eat less food.
Drink a glass of water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (with ‘the mother’) 5 minutes before each meal to stimulate digestive juices.
Avoid drinking too much fluids with meals. A glass of water or tea 10-15 minutes beforehand is fine, as is a glass of wine. However, fluid with meals dilutes stomach acid, making your small and large intestines work harder.
If gas and bloating are seriously bad for you, avoid eating fruit with any other foods. Always eat it alone, at least 2 hours away from other foods.
Don’t combine animal protein with complex carbohydrates like bread, pasta, wraps, rice noodles or other grains. For extremely bad gas and bloating, avoid combining protein with starchy vegetables, like sweet potatoes, beets or carrots, too.
Only combine protein with low-carb vegetables, or complex carbs with low-carb vegetables. Healthy fats can be added to either combination without any digestive issues, for most women.
The rate at which each food breaks down is different, so it’s easier for undigested foods to enter the large intestines with the wrong food combinations.
Take 10 minutes to relax and allow your body to work on digesting your meals.
Your nervous system is complex and contains a parasympathetic and a sympathetic component as part the autonomic nervous system.
Often called the “rest and digest” nervous system, the parasympathetic division needs to be working in order for your body to properly digest your meals. In opposition, the sympathetic nervous system is triggered in times of stress, turning ‘off’ the parasympathetic end.
Avoid doing anything strenuous or rushing around after you eat. Take time to relax, go for a leisurely walk, or enjoy a good conversation with your family.
It’s important to support your digestive system even while not eating or thinking about food.
Take a daily probiotic and, if needed, a prebiotic supplement, and practice daily self-care and stress management.
Exercise each day, to whatever level feels good for you and your energy levels.
All good health begins with good digestion, and this is the same principle for all-day energy and reduced fatigue.
When your body gets the nutrients from foods you eat, your cells can produce more and more energy.
This is the first step in overall improved energy balance, and why all my clients have to get their digestive systems on par first before moving ahead with specific, strategic practices to improve energy and reduce fatigue.