Four Easy Ways to Help Digestion
The role of the digestive system is to break down our food and deliver nutrients to our cells through the bloodstream. It's a 25 to 35 foot long hose that starts at the mouth and ends at the anus. When things go wrong in your digestive system it can lead to weight gain, hair loss, vomiting, stomach ulcers, gall stones, Celiac disease, appendicitis, and diarrhea. That's why it's so important to care for digestive system.
I recently experienced some of these symptoms and I couldn't figure out what was wrong. Every time I ate my stomach grew uncomfortably distended. After I would finish exercising I would be hungrier and more tired than I ever thought possible. Given the timing of these symptoms I actually thought it was something else until I visited the doctor and did my own research. After going through the exam, the doctor asked me about my diet, asked me to keep a food diary, and put me on a probiotic. I followed up a month later 100% better. No more stomach distention and exhaustion. As it turns out my problem was a combination of two things: a food intolerance, dairy, and lack of good bacteria in my gut.
Listed below are the things I did to get my digestion back on track and get to feeling better. You may find all or only one of these things help you but I hope it gives you some insight if you suspect a problem with your digestion.
There are three substances to avoid while your digestion gets back on track: dairy, gluten, and sugar.
Most people have some degree of a lactose intolerance. Symptoms can often manifest as soon as 30 minutes after consuming dairy products and can include headaches, bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
Gluten intolerance can cause the same symptoms as a dairy intolerance. Gluten intolerance should not be mistaken for Celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the small intestine and is a reaction to the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Symptoms include pain, discomfort, constipation, anemia, weight loss, and fatigue.
Sugar can feed bad bacteria and cause an overgrowth of yeast in your gut. If left unchecked the sugar will continue to feed the bad bacteria and yeast and will cause you long term distress.
By keeping a food diary and eliminating these three foods, along with anything else you suspect may be causing you discomfort, you can narrow down what foods are problematic. Eliminate these foods for about 2 weeks and then slowly add them back into your diet.
It may seem contradictory to take glutamine while staying away from gluten since glumatine peptides can be derived from wheat. Glutamine is an amino acid that is found naturally in the body. Food intolerances irritate the lining of your intestines and makes it harder to absorb nutrients from other foods. Glutamine works to repair the damage to your intestines and stomach lining. Take 500 mg to 1,000 mg a day to help heal your stomach and prevent any more damage.
Probiotics have been getting a lot of hype lately and for good reason. Probiotics deliver a dose of good bacteria that helps get rid of the bad bacteria and optimize gut flora. It also makes it easier to digest food resulting in less digestive distress. Starting probiotics you may experience more gas and bloating but depending on the severity of your problems the symptoms will disappear in 1 to 3 weeks. Probiotics can range from 1 billion to 100 billion of bacteria so if you're still experiencing discomfort after waiting try a lower quantity.
Coconut oil is great for so many things but in this case it's good for helping to kill off yeast. Coconut oil is antibacterial and anti-fungal so it's great for helping to restore your digestive health. While coconut oil can be healthy for you keep in mind that it's still a fat. Start off slow with 1 or 2 teaspoons of coconut oil a day and gradually work up to a tablespoon. Taking too much coconut oil at once will not only cause some weight gain but you may also experience die off symptoms. Die off is the result of dying bacteria and yeast releasing toxins and overwhelming your body.
- Exercise: can help relieve constipation. Exercise will help by decreasing the time it takes food to move through your intestine.
- Water: will help with bloating. Part of bloating can be too much salt and water will help flush it out.
- Insoluble Fiber: it stays together more than soluble fiber as it passes through your system. That makes it better at easing constipation. Insoluble fiber foods include: brown rice, celery, carrots, broccoli, and cabbage.
- Digestive Enzymes: help break down the food into smaller components so they can be absorb better. An example of a digestive enzyme would be lactaid. Lactaid helps with the digestion of lactose food in milk products.
- Peppermint Tea: helps to relieve gas and bloating.
**If you suspect a food intolerance/allergy please consult your doctor first before making any dietary changes or adding supplements.**
- Keep a food diary and eliminate offending foods
- Take glutamine to heal your stomach and intestines
- Probiotics to restore healthy bacteria
- Coconut oil to kill off yeast overgrowth in your gut