Do you suffer from burning, bloating, nausea or feel uncomfortably full after a meal?
If indigestion is getting you down (and ruining mealtimes), these easy tweaks to your routine could make a massive difference.
1. Chew your food well.
Good digestion starts in the mouth. Eat in a relaxed environment, step away from your desk, turn off the TV and put away your phone.
Focus on what you are eating, chew carefully and enjoy every bite – this is known as being mindful.
Chewing well is the first step in the breakdown of food which allows your digestive enzymes in your stomach to begin the next step much more efficiently.
2. Eat until you are just satisfied.
Filling yourself to the brim with food puts excessive load on your stomach and it’s ability to digest your meal in a timely manner.
Putting this into practice is a good way of turning your “I’m satisfied” switch back on if you’ve been accustomed to overeating at meal times.
3. Increase your stomach acid.
Lemon juice or apple cider vinegar in water between meals is perfect for this! It might sound strange, but high levels of stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) is often NOT the cause of heartburn.
In fact, it’s too little stomach acid, along with longer periods of mechanical churning of the food in the stomach, that can cause a buildup of pressure. This can put pressure on your oesophageal sphincter, allowing what little stomach acid you have to come back up.
4. Stay hydrated.
Water is super important for digestion! It is needed to digest food and absorb nutrients effectively.
BUT you need to drink between meals rather than with, as it will dilute your stomach acid which is essential for optimal digestion.
5. Up the probiotics.
Your gut is full of many different types of bacteria. Unfortunately, if you get the wrong balance of beneficial and harmful bacteria, a lot of digestive disturbances can follow.
Beneficial bacteria help produce vitamins and short chain fatty acids which feed other beneficial bacteria. They are essential for aiding digestion, warding off infection and reducing inflammation in your body.
You can get them by taking a good quality probiotic supplement or through fermented foods such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir. Good quality bone broth also helps to nourish and grow beneficial bacteria.
6. Be good to your liver.
Keep your liver happy and your digestion will love you for it. Eat plenty of liver-loving vegetables such as leafy greens, broccoli, cabbage, beetroot and carrot.
Plus bitters including rocket, endive, dandelion greens. Dandelion root tea is a wonderful liver health tonic, and great for improving your digestion.
7. Manage your stress.
Stress can play havoc on your digestion. Do something every day that you enjoy to wind down and relieve stress – whether it be exercise, meditation, reading, yoga – whatever makes you feel great!
As a naturopath, I find that often it only takes a few minor changes to a patient’s lifestyle to improve their digestion. But if you can’t seem to get to the cause of your symptoms be sure to get in touch with a qualified practitioner who can investigate further.
We originally published this post in March 2017. We updated it in June 2017.