Photo by Travis Yewell on Unsplash
Over the holidays, did you notice that your digestion was thrown off by travel, stress, and unhealthy eating? This is to be expected, as our gut health is tightly tied to our emotional and mental state and the food that we eat.
Or, like many people, you may have had poor digestion to begin with! No matter the time of year, you may experience issues like gas, bloating, constipation, nausea, or loose stools.
But this doesn’t have to be your fate (and it really shouldn’t be).
How To Tell If You Need a Reset
Let’s break down what good digestion looks like (and what bad digestion looks like), WHY it’s so important, and HOW you can improve your digestive health for better overall health. Don’t worry, I’ll leave you with some easy action steps from my “Healthy Digestion” checklist to refer to at the end of this post!
First up, what does it mean to have healthy digestive function? We need to talk about poop!
Healthy digestion means…
- You’re going to the bathroom 1-3 times a day, and you aren’t dependent on coffee or supplements for a bowel movement.
- Your stools are in the 3-5 range on the Bristol Stool Chart, with 4 being the best
- You are not straining/experiencing pain OR experiencing stools coming out with force. In other words, you should not have to rush to the bathroom, but you shouldn’t have time to play a game on your iPhone, either!
- No excessive gas, belching, nausea, or feeling of indigestion after eating
- No undigested food, blood, or mucus present
- No feelings of acid reflux
You get the point! If your bathroom habits don’t resemble this, you probably have some work to do. But why does it even matter?
Why Digestive Health Matters
Good digestion and gut health are critically important for overall health. Healthy digestion is how we obtain nutrients for our food – the “building blocks” needed for healthy, functioning organs and energy. It is how we are protected from harmful pathogens. A healthy gut means that we have plenty of beneficial bacteria doing good work for us: helping us keep our weight in check, interacting with our immune systems, aiding in balancing our hormones, and even communicating with our brains (friends with depression and anxiety – listen up)!
There is definitely truth to the saying, “All disease begins in the gut.”
When we encounter digestive issues, they should be taken as a sign that our guts need a little help. For example, constipation (hard stools, less than 1 bowel movement a day) means that waste is sitting in your system, unable to be moved out of your body appropriately. This can be a sign of low beneficial bacteria in the colon, stress, an infection or overgrowth in the gut, a food intolerance, poor thyroid function, or some other body imbalance.
Tips for Improving Gut Health ASAP
Yep – if you suffer from digestive issues like constipation, excessive gas, or loose stools, it IS possible that you need to do some deep digging to find the root cause (by the way – I can help with that! It’s what I do). However, there are also many simple steps you can take to improve your gut health this week! Here are just a few:
- Remove remaining inflammatory ingredients. Are there still refined sugar and gluten products left in the house? Get that stuff out of your fridge and pantry, because they’re not doing your gut health any favors. Don’t feel guilty about throwing them away and creating a fresh start.
- Soothe and nourish your gut lining by sipping warm beverages like bone broth and marshmallow root tea. Bone broth contains proline and glycine to repair cell walls, and marshmallow root is wonderful for lubricating and moisturizing inflamed tissue.
- Improve food breakdown. Drinking warm water with fresh ginger, lemon juice, and a small drizzle of raw honey 15 minutes before a meal can help “jumpstart” digestion. I find it especially helpful in the morning. Make sure not to brush your teeth directly after drinking to protect tooth enamel. You can also try eating pineapple or papaya (both contain natural enzymes for digestion – actually used in many digestive enzyme supplements) or taking a small amount of apple cider vinegar or some digestive bitters in water before a meal.
- Get things moving. The root cause of constipation can be relatively simple (such as not taking time to enter “rest and digest mode”), or it can be more complex (like an overgrowth of “bad” bacteria or yeast). In my Healthy Digestion Checklist, you’ll find some easy steps to incorporate first. If you are still dealing with constipation after implementing those tips, deeper digging is needed (for example, getting a comprehensive gut test done like the GI-MAP).
If you’re ready to improve your digestion this year, download my “Healthy Digestion Checklist”! It will take you through a method to improve your digestion from the top down. Get started by choosing ONE action step from the checklist to incorporate today.
And if you like the checklist, join me for the full 7 Day Fresh Start Challenge on January 29th (it’s free)! I want to help you make easy, sustainable changes this year.
Wishing you happy, healthy digestion in 2018!