Nutrition news -By Dr. Ashley Weber
DIGESTION – How’s your digestion?
As a Naturopathic Doctor, this is a question I ask every patient. .” But when I dig a bit deeper, most people have some digestive complaints—constipation, bloating, gas, acid reflux, or nausea, just to name a few—and are embarrassed to talk about it. These symptoms are not healthy (although very common), and are a signal that your digestive system isn’t functioning at its best. Poor digestion contributes to suboptimal vitamin and mineral absorption, which can interfere with weight loss. On top of that, I think we’d all agree that these symptoms can be pretty uncomfortable.
The sympathetic nervous system is our fight-or-flight setting, the one that evolved from our need to run away from a saber-toothed tiger hundreds of years ago. As you can imagine, this system sends blood flow to your extremities, but shuts off digestion. (If you’re running from a tiger, your body’s more concerned about super-charging you to safety than processing what you had for lunch.)
These days, our sympathetic nervous system is also what dominates when we’re busy or stressed, which is why digestion so often takes a backseat.
The parasympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, is our “rest and digest” system. It’s the mode you want to be in before, during and after eating, to allow for optimal digestion. With today’s on-the-go lifestyle, our sympathetic nervous system tends to rule the day. Many of us eat on the run or while doing work, so we’re not even giving our parasympathetic system a chance to work its magic. Here are a few easy tips to help bring your parasympathetic system into balance and optimize the entire digestive process:
*Breathe through your nose.
*Add apple cider vinegar. For acid reflux, bloating, and constipation, try taking 1 tablespoon of organicapple cider vinegar, in a small amount of water, 15 minutes before each meal. This gives your body a heads up that its time to eat, and your stomach will start producing all those enzymes and juices you need to break down your food. It’s not all that tasty, but it’s totally worth it.
*Only eat when you’re sitting down.
*Chew your food at least 20 times for each bite.
*Don’t jump up for a second helping. It takes 10 minutes for your stomach to send your brain the message that you’re full, so wait at least 10 minutes before going for seconds. This will prevent you from overeating, a common cause of indigestion, and may even help you shed a few pounds, too.
*Try tea. After all of this, if your digestion is still off, try some tea, but be choosy. Peppermint tea can help calm cramping and bloating, but may aggravate reflux. For reflux, try chamomile. Feeling nauseous? Try ginger tea, and add a few slices of fresh ginger for good measure. w your food at least 20 times for each bite.
*Exercise. Still feeling a bit sluggish after a meal? Go for a short walk. This gets blood moving, and helps with peristalsis, the wave-like motions of the stomach and intestine that move food along. It also helps to balance your blood sugar.