With millions of people suffering from digestion issues-digestion is a wide topic and with different opinions out there, it can get confusing. Sometimes, I think we need to bring it back to the basics. I like to highlight the simple tips that may be unsexy, but very necessary. Below, I highlight 4 simple tips you can start utilizing right now to help improve digestion and decrease stress- double win!
Tip #1- Stress Managment
Stress and anxiety can do a number on the digestive system. Our autonomic nervous system regulates certain processes such as digestion, heart rate, blood pressure, ect. In the autonomic nervous system- it contains three different divisions. One division- our sympathetic nervous system activates the fight or flight response during any potential threat or danger. When this is activated, one of the bodily processes it affects is digestion. It does this by inhibiting activity of the stomach and intestines- in other words- your digestion slows way down. The body is more concerned about fleeing or fighting the perceived threat than digestion of the food in your stomach. Due to how our modern world is set up, people can be in this state constantly. One way to improve digestion is by improving your response to stress in your life. Some tips to manage stress include
- Deep breathing- in through the nose, out through the mouth for a count of 4-5
- Taking breaks- from work, electronics, noise
- Have fun! Laugh, hang with people you love
- Set aside time each to day for self-care
Tip #2- Slow Down
As simple as this sounds- slowing down when eating and taking time to chew your food will help aid digestion. Our saliva contains amylase- which begins the breakdown of starch in food. The longer the amylase has to break down the food, the better digested it may be. Other benefits include; activating the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) by being present and slowing down.
Double Tip: Combine mindfulness with eating: take deep breaths, see, smell, and taste your food- notice the texture and how you feel when eating it.
Tip #3- Don’t Multi-task
In our modern world, we all try to do too many things at once and shove too many to-do’s on our plate each day. This causes us to cram things together. Like working from your desk and eating lunch while simultaneously checking e-mails. But in reality, multi-tasking while eating can lead to weight gain, digestive and stress issues. We eat way more when we are multi-tasking and it can cause us to be in a stressful state of being.
Instead of watching a movie or checking e-mails while reading- make eating a special occasion and time for rest, relaxation, connection, or ritual. Some ideas include
- Blocking lunch off on your work calendar- this way no one can schedule a call with you
- Challenge yourself to eat without any electronics
- Eat a meal with loved ones- use this as a time for enjoyment and connection
- Put all distractions away
Tip #4- Practice Gratitude
Feeling stressed before dinner? Practicing gratitude can shift your mindset and decrease your stress levels. I like to do this prior to eating a meal as it can also increase self-love. Some examples include
- If eating with family/friends- go around the table and say one thing you are grateful for.
- Be mindful with your body; thank if for processing the food you are about to eat.
- Practice gratitude for the food you are about to eat- think of all the things that had to happen for it to arrive at your plate.
Now more than ever, it is important to take care of ourselves through these challenging times. Utilizing these four simple tips will help improve digestion while decreasing stress levels.
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