5 TIPS TO IMPROVE DIGESTION NATURALLY | Dr. T , ND
Do you find that your poor digestion is impacting your QUALITY OF LIFE?
Do you experience frequent GASTROINTESTINAL SYMPTOMS such as stomach upsets, heart burn, bloating, belching, gas, diarrhea, or constipation despite taking medications, over-the-counter drugs, and nutraceuticals?
Have you ever thought the very MEDICATIONS which are intended to help you may actually be contributing to your symptoms? These common medications are known for exacerbating constipation: Anti-acids, Anti-depressants, Anti-cholinergics, Bismuth, Calcium channel blockers, Iron, Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), Opioids, and Sympathomimetics.
Did you also know that long-term and over-reliant use of LAXATIVES can lead you into a vicious cycle of constipation and cause dilated atonic colon? For example, you have constipation, you take laxatives to relieve that constipation, the laxatives then cause your intestines to enlarge and relax resulting in further constipation, and subsequently, you require even more laxatives to fix the laxative-induced constipation, and the cycle repeats.
If you have tried every conventional and natural health product on the market but have not found relief, it may be time to re-assess your daily habits and how they may be playing a role in your ability to digest and absorb nutrients. In a world where everyone wants a quick fix, it may be tempting to want a pill for every ill. The problems with this method are that (1) It assumes everyone’s root cause is the same, (2) It only treats the symptoms superficially and temporarily, and (3) It is not sustainable (think time and money). It makes much more sense to establish life-long HEALTHY HABITS and engage in PREVENTATIVE MEASURES in order optimize digestion and prevent disease. WHY? Poor digestion has been linked to many conditions such as acne, allergies, autism, cancer, chronic fatigue, dementia, and mood disorders to name a few.
If you have tried every conventional and natural health product on the market but have not found relief, it may be time to re-assess your daily habits and how they may be playing a role in your ability to digest and absorb nutrients
*Note: A good bowel movement is a good indicator of your gut health. If you are concerned about your stool, I am able to offer consultation around this issue. (The Bristol Stool Chart is a helpful guide to determine if you have a healthy bowel movement).
The following are my top 5 tips for improving digestion and preventing gastrointestinal-associated symptoms, naturally.
- INCREASE FIBRE INTAKE: Half a plate of colourful vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds at every meal. Eating a variety is key. Soluble fibres stimulate a healthy digestive process.
- INCREASE WATER INTAKE: Water is called the universal solvent for a reason. The human body is made of 50-75% water and it is vital for every cell, tissue, organ, and organ system. Water carries along valuable vitamins, minerals, and chemicals and has great influence on our health.
- INCREASE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: Whether it is walking, running, or swimming, any movement is better than being sedentary. Mild-to-moderate exercise has been shown to increase gastric emptying, improve intestinal motility, enhance blood flow, alleviate symptoms of digestive diseases, and prevent many types of cancers. Physical activity, in my opinion, is the best medicine as I don’t know any other treatment modality that can positively influence multiple organ systems simultaneously!
- PRACTICE MINDFUL EATING: It is important to take time to sit down and appreciate our food (think presentation, smell, and taste) as well as the people we share our meals with. Build an appetite by only eating when hungry and avoid snacking all day long. Chew food very well before swallowing to avoid taking in big gulps of air and to prevent belching. Avoid laying down after eating to prevent acid reflux. Watch portion sizes (think ½ plate of vegetables, ¼ plate of protein, ¼ plate of healthy grains) to prevent over-eating.
- PRACTICE TIMING AND POSITION: Train your body to have a bowel movement at the same time every day (e.g., in the comfort of your home, after breakfast every morning). Use a squatty potty or elevate your knees above the toilet seat to create a 35-degree angled squat. This is the best position to have a bowel movement.
Other things to consider if symptoms persist:
- PREBIOTICS & PROBIOTICS to re-populate the intestinal microflora.
- DIGESTIVE ENZYMES (narrow or broad-spectrum) to aid in the breakdown and absorption of nutrients.
- OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS to reduce inflammation in the intestines.
- GLUTAMINE and ZINC to repair the intestinal lining.
- FOOD SENSITIVITY TESTS to determine food allergens that may be irritating the gastrointestinal tract.
Naturopathic doctors are experts in natural medicine. They are trained to diagnose, perform physical examinations, requisition laboratory tests (conventional and special tests), recognize interactions between drugs-herbs-supplements, and can help you determine the best course of action.
SUMMARY AND TAKE HOME MESSAGE:
- Eat colourful vegetables at every meal of every day
- Drink lots of water everyday
- Move your body everyday
- Practice mindfulness everyday
- Designate a bowel movement time and check your position on the toilet
Do you have any other questions or concerns? I offer free 15-minute consultations to see if I am a good fit for you.
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