’Tis the season of delicious feasting. That also means that it may be the most trying season for your overloaded digestive system. If your digestion is imbalanced, you may be experiencing increased indigestion, heart burn, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, flatulence and more. Luckily, there are a few easy things you can do at home to support and enhance your digestion this winter.
SIP APPLE CIDER VINEGAR.
Apparently, as many as 90 percent of Americans produce too little stomach acid. This acid, known as hydrochloric acid, is responsible for unlocking digestive enzymes, promoting digestion and improving nutrient absorption. Low acid means the body isn’t properly absorbing nutrients from food, so you may be more prone to deficiencies even if you have a balanced diet. Even syndromes such as acid reflux are the result of producing too little stomach acid. By consuming 1 to 3 teaspoons of raw, organic apple cider vinegar (with the mother) diluted in water about 20 minutes before eating, ACV can help to increase stomach acid and increase nutrient absorption. Just be sure to swish water in your mouth after drinking the tonic in order to protect your tooth enamel from erosion.
TRY DIGESTIVE ENZYMES.
Taking supplemental digestive enzymes at mealtimes can significantly improve your digestion. These enzymes assist the body by breaking down hard-to-digest foods and freeing up the immune system to do more important housekeeping functions. High quality, store-bought digestive enzymes are derived from powerful plant foods (like papaya and its powerful digestive enzyme, papain). Look for one with a balanced pH and a diverse range of enzymes. In conjunction, probiotics are also a good addition to your digestive arsenal to keep those ever-important gut bacteria in check.
IMPROVE YOUR POSTURE.
Proper posture is so important, especially for digestion. Keeping your organs in alignment makes the task of processing food a lot easier for your body. But having the strength to maintain proper posture is also important. Strength of abdominal muscles, including the important diaphragm, becomes compromised when we slouch at desks all day. This can compress the stomach and intestines and encourage discomfort and bloating after meals. Practice yoga postures like spinal twists to enhance digestion, stretch ab muscles, encourage deep relaxation and realign the organs. And, of course, sit up straight at your desk and take walking breaks often.
DRINK HERBAL TEAS.
Herbals teas like fennel, ginger, peppermint, dandelion and cinnamon can help to improve digestion after a heavy meal. Try an herbal chai or a moroccan mint daily to reap the rewards of these beneficial herbs. And if you fancy the zesty flavor, kombucha can combine the probiotic benefits of fermentation along with the digestive benefits of tea.
Aside from the aforementioned tips, increasing your mindfulness around food can make a huge difference in your digestion. Eat slowly, chew thoroughly and do not sit down to a meal when you are stressed. By priming your mind and body, you can promote digestive health throughout the season with relatively little active effort. Stomachaches be gone—all it takes is a little mindfulness.