You know that old saying “you are what you eat”? Well, it’s right, but it’s only 1/3 of the story.We are what we eat, but only if we digest it properly. So I prefer this way of saying it; "We are what we eat, absorb, and assimilate”. The food we eat goes into our mouth and then we chew it…hopefully, unless you’re a super speed eater. Then it goes into our stomach and small intestine where it’s broken down further and absorbed. Then these nutrients go to our liver to be made into whatever our body needs (this is the “assimilate” part). If all goes well we get the nutrients our bodies needs to function properly…but for most of us this process doesn’t quite go perfectly. Bloating, gas, burping, cramping, irregularity, and possibly chronic inflammation are all signs and symptoms of indigestion…which means your body didn’t fully break down your food. Indigestion means you’re not absorbing and assimilating properly. We usually get indigestion symptoms due to our lifestyle. Our high stress and highly stimulated life is really hard on our tummy. Eating too quickly and not chewing enough is the #1 cause of indigestion I see with my clients. Drinking liquids with meals, over-eating, and mindless eating are a close second. Digestive aids to the rescue! Once we have indigestion symptoms, we can bring our digestion back into balance with a few key digestive aids.
1. Better digestive habits What seems simple and easy is actually one of the hardest things I give my clients.Be relaxed while eating (turn off the news), chew well, and no liquids with meals is all you have to do…but this can take weeks of constant practice to achieve. Start with 1 meal per day and slowly work up to every meal. The good news is—you should start to feel your symptoms lessen with each meal you eat slowly.
2. Digestive Enzymes Do you deal with gas, bloating, or burping? Or do you have many food sensitivities?Eating too quickly and/or eating the same foods over and over again (wheat, dairy, etc.) can lead to enzyme deficiencies. In a nutshell, your pancreas is tired of making the same enzymes over and over again. Flora’s Enzyme line (US/CA) works like a charm to solve an overly gassy belly quickly. They start to work in your stomach, so they can help your overly-taxed pancreas take a bit of a break and recharge. Take them for at least 3 months, and then use them anytime you’re eating an extra large meal or enjoying foods you don’t digest very well.
3. Probiotics A side effect of indigestion can be an imbalance in your microbiome…the bacteria that lives in your gut. This can cause even more bloating and very smelly gas (yikes).Our lifestyle is also much cleaner than it was a few generations ago, and re-seeding our gut regularly is important. Our gut bacteria does a lot in our body, it even makes enzymes like lactase to help us digest our food better. I regularly take Flora’s Adult Blend Probiotic (US/CA). It keeps my gut bacteria happily in balance.
4. Variety We tend to get into food ruts. We buy the same groceries week after week…I definitely struggle with this.A little trick I do is for 1 – 2 months every year I buy 1 new fruit or veggie each week and try it out. This usually leads to 1 or 2 new foods into my diet each year. This may not seem like a lot, but it really adds up!! Your gut REALLY likes fermented foods, and adding 1 serving of fermented foods per day can really help your digestion. Unpasteurized sauerkraut, kefir, or even just a good-quality yogurt will feed your good bacteria and help to rebalance your gut quickly.
If you’re dealing with any digestive symptoms right now, never fear! Your gut can be happy and gas-free faster than you can imagine.
About the author: Lisa Kilgour
Lisa Kilgour is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN), Founder ofLisaKilgour.com, and a faculty member at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.