In Part I of Digestion Demystified, I covered how your digestive health powerfully influences your overall health.  Then, in Part II, the 3 key elements of healthy digestion: hydrochloric acid, enzymes and gut flora.  Today I’m sharing all the tips you’ve been waiting for to take action.  Enjoy!
Tips to Maintain The 3 Keys to Healthy Digestion:
1.  Healthy Hydrochloric Acid Levels

  • Apple cider vinegar – Add 1-2 tsp to a cup of water and drink it 5-15 minutes before your meal.  The apple cider vinegar increases stomach acidity, which sends signals to your body and kicks off the digestive process.
  • Sit down to eat – Your body has two modes: 1) “Go” or “fight or flight” and 2) “Rest, digest, heal and grow”.  It can’t do both at the same time, so take a break from the action, find a quiet place to relax, and help your body make the switch.

2.  Enzymes

  • See above!  An increase in stomach acid levels sends the message to your pancreas to release enzymes.  Their release is also blocked by stress, and increased by a relaxed state.
  • Chew your food – Your food moves along your digestive tract at the same pace no matter how big or small it is, so give your enzymes a head start by sending smaller bits through the corridor.  No need to count the number of times you chew, but consider chewing your food until it’s the consistency of paste.  It will take some concentration at first, but before you know it you’ll be chewing longer without thinking about it at all.

3.  Probiotics (gut flora)

  • Choose a probiotic that has at least 10 billion live organisms per dose, and contains a variety of species, including bifido bacterium and lactobacillis acicophilus. 
  • More is not always better!  Too high of a probiotic dose can cause cramps, bloating, gas or loose stools.  Talk to your naturopathic doctor to find the best strains and dose for you specifically.
  • Eat unpasteurized, organic unsweetened plain yogurt and/or unpasteurized sauerkraut as a natural source of healthy gut flora.
  • Make sure you get plenty of soluble fibre in your diet since it’s the main food source your healthy flora rely on.  

Take your time introducing and trying these tips.  Also, consider working with a naturopathic doctor who can take a detailed history and assess your individual needs.  An organized approach and plan can help simplify the process and help you stay on track.  Healthy digestion is THE foundation to your overall health, and is a great place for you to start no matter what your health concerns are.
More to come!  Now that we have the basics of digestion down, I want to take things up a notch and talk about the FOOD-HORMONE connection.  I’ll discuss how what you eat can directly affect your estrogen, progesterone, thyroid, insulin and stress hormone levels.  And as always, I’ll share simple tips you can use to get balanced.