Unfortunately, when we are stressed, our digestive system is the first thing to be compromised.
While good food is important, it doesn't matter what we are putting in our body if we aren't absorbing it. Here are 5 ways you can improve your digestion.
1) Avoid drinking water during a meal
I used to do this allllll the time until I learned that drinking water during a meal actually dilutes my stomach acid.
Becoming aware of this turned out the be a good thing because it encouraged me to drink a lot of water before each meal (because aren't hunger pains majority of the time really just dehydration?).
Drinking a few glasses of water before I eat, helps fill me up, (so I eat less), and it helps hydrate my body. Water is life, right?
2) The stomach is weakened by cold food and drinks
I learned this from a post from Organic Olivia and her love for Traditional Chinese Medicine (which I find fascinating - the stomach is weakened by worry and cold foods, the kidneys are weakened by fear (many times why kids wet the bed), the liver is affected by anger and frustration -- why everyone needs to do a liver cleanse! :).
The stomach is the pot (the digestive fire actually comes from the spleen), so imagine adding cold food to a warm pot - it takes a lot more energy to warm up the food first and then begin to break it down.
Items don't have to be hot, but room temperature drinks are better than cold.
And just heating up leftovers up briefly will help (I'm guilty of just eating out of the container:)
3) Avoid eating while watching TV, texting, checking email, or scrolling through social media
While multi-tasking seems necessary in the 21st century, it actually inhibits our body's ability to produce enough stomach acid (stress, worry, or having an argument while eating will do this too).
So yes, we've heard it before, but put down the phone, turn off the TV, and focus on what you're putting in your body.
Smell it - really taste it.
It doesn't take long to eat, but eating in a positive atmosphere (with positive conversations), or without a cell phone, TV, or social media pulling at your attention, will do your body good.
4) Take digestive enzymes
Digestive enzymes are just that - enzymes that work in the stomach to help you break down your food. They are a God-send for helping you to digest!
I carry digestive enzymes in my purse and will take one before a meal at a restaurant.
I do this because 99% of the time, the food I'm eating at a restaurant hasn't been soaked.
Items that should be soaked (in order to remove the phytic acid) are seeds, grains (quinoa, rice), beans, and nuts.
While the salad may be healthy with some fresh, organic greens and veggies, the nuts sprinkled on top are just going to pass right through me (phytic acid is one of the ways a plant protects itself), complete with fertilizer (my poop!).
Without digestive enzymes, I'm forcing my body to pull nutrients out of my bones and tissues to try and break down the unsoaked nuts, sushi rice, quinoa, almond butter, power bar with nuts, sunflower seeds and more.
I learned this from the Yum Universe cookbook. She said she stopped having cavities after not eating soaked ingredients, because her body wasn't forced to pull nutrients out of her bones/teeth to break down unsoaked ingredients.
Soaking ingredients removes the phytic acid and makes them cook in 1/3 of the time - hello 4 minute lentils!
Soaking is an ancient technique that used to be done alllll the time, but we moved away from it because of our "fast", "quick grab", "need it now" culture.
I soak some of my own ingredients while others (like organic sprouted almond butter or organic sprouted quinoa) I buy at the store.
Even if I'm not at a restaurant or consuming properly soaked ingredients, digestive enzymes are still extremely beneficial.
5) "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper."
Since we are nature, living in harmony means we are in tune with nature. We do as nature does.
No surprise, but our stomach acid and digestive juices are the strongest when the sun is highest in the sky - about 1-2pm.
Eating a big breakfast and or lunch is the easiest time for your body to assimilate and break everything down.
This also means that when the sun is setting, it's best not to eat a large meal (I know, this is hard in Europe as many restaurants don't open till 8pm), but digestion-wise, it's not the ideal (digestive enzymes to the rescue!).
Awareness is key.... with anything - breaking up a bad relationship, realizing you have limiting beliefs around money (I had this!), or simply being aware of turning off the TV, heating up leftovers, and taking digestive enzymes.
It doesn't happen all at once, but small changes are all that's need to get back to harmony and health.