Tummy troubles? Join the club! According to a survey of 2,000 American adults, 72% of people have GI discomfort a few times or more a month (1)! Whether it's frequent bloating, going to the bathroom too much or not enough, or nagging acid reflux, nobody feels great with any of these symptoms popping up in life. While it's always important to bring up any health issues with your doctor to make sure these aren't signs of a more serious condition, let me give you a few pointers that could just be the simple fix you need :)
Your stomach doesn't have teeth! Digestion actually starts in the mouth by the physical mechanism of chewing and the chemical mechanism of the digestive enzymes.
Swallowing food chunks whole puts a lot of stress on your stomach and is a sure fire way to cause discomfort. Make sure you're taking your time to chew; some even find counting their chews (15-25x) helpful in the beginning to get them use to slowing down. Your food should be mostly smooth and liquid before swallowing if chewed properly. Remember, the more you chew, the less work for your stomach = happy tum! =)
Try not to eat in a rush or with an anxious/upset mindset. Eating fast often leads to overeating which will cause digestion issues. Additionally, eating in an unpleasant mood often tenses up our muscles and halts digestion. Make sure you take a nice 20 to 30 minutes for meals and do so in a relaxed manner, like sitting at a table by a window or with friends.
Taking 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice or raw apple cider vinegar with water 15 minutes before meals can help increase acid production in your stomach which aids in better digestion. Additionally, adding either of these to your food, like a squeeze of lemon on top of fish/chicken or ACV to your salad dressing, can be helpful too!
Having an imbalance of gut flora can cause all kinds of GI and none GI related symptoms. Including more foods that naturally have probiotics like yogurt, kefir, unpasteurized sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha can help replenish some of the good guys. If you're new to fermented foods, start out small ( 4 oz yogurt, 1 tbsp kimchi) and gradually increase your dose as you get more comfortable with them.
Seeds, nuts, and whole grains have a protective coating on them called phytic acid that can make them hard to digest. By soaking these foods and draining off the water, though, you can release some of the phytic acid therefore increasing digestibility.
For seed-like grains and beans, soak 8-24 hours, switching out the water every 8 hrs. When ready to cook, drain off soaking water, replace with fresh, and add apple cider vinegar to help further break down the phytic acid. For seeds and nuts, dissolve a little salt in warm water and then put seeds/nuts in making sure they're submerged. Soak for 2-12 hrs depending on the seed/nut used.
If you have GI issues as described above or see undigested food or fat in your stool, you may not be producing enough digestive enzymes or your enzymes may not be working as well as they should. More serious conditions such as Crohn's and Celiac disease can cause this, but so can having your gallbladder removed, chronic stress, inflammation from food sensitivities or poor diet, and aging. Digestive enzymes can be bought over the counter - just look for one that contains a complete range of enzymes including amylase, lipase, protease, and peptidase.
Disclaimer: The information shared on this website is for general purposes only and has not been reviewed by the FDA. The information is not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease or medical conditions and is not intended to take the place of advice from your medical professional. You should seek the care of your doctor before changing dietary or lifestyle habits. You are solely responsible for your health care and activity choices.