There is a famous saying that “ It is not what we eat but what we digest that makes us strong.
That means how healthy we are does not depend upon what we eat, it depends upon whether that food is completely digested or not.
And do you know that more than 80% of the problems arise from our gut?
A major number of people are facing some of the other issues related to their gut health
Having said that, the good part is that solution to this problem is fairly easy and practical.
Let’s see what are the ways to improve digestion naturally.
HOW DOES POOR DIGESTION AFFECT US?
A study proves that our gut health and our mind are connected.
Have you heard of the proverb ‘shitting in your pants’?
So this proverb is used when we are fearful of any situation and it has been connected to our gut.
You must have noticed how refreshed and happy you feel after clearing your stomach in the morning and during the days of constipation we feel irritated and grumpy.
Effects of the poor digestive system
- Makes us less effective at the workplace
- Make us feel irritated and grumpy
- Can cause lots of other problems
- Can result in low immunity
So you now understand how important it is to have good gut health.
5 BAD HABITS AND 5 GOOD HABITS THAT AFFECTS YOUR DIGESTION
- Bathing just after meals/Drinking water with the meals
Do you take shower just after any of your meals?
If yes you should better stop doing that because by doing so you are messing up with your digestion process.
After eating, the temperature of the body rises to digest the food but when we take bath after eating the body temperature cools down making it difficult for the body to digest the food.
Similarly, many people have this bad habit of drinking water while eating or gulping water just after finishing the food.
This water dampens the digestive fire and makes digestion difficult.
This food then instead of providing nutrition and strength, produces toxins in the body.
In Ayurveda drinking water just after meals is referred to as poison.
Even I had this habit of drinking water with and just after the meal and believe me this habit alone increased my tummy fat and overall weight from 55kgs to 59kgs.
Initially, it seems tough but with practice, you’ll be able to leave this habit just like I did.
- Eating the wrong combination of food
Many people unknowingly eat the wrong combination of food which affects their gut health adversely.
- Consuming milk with fruits
- Consuming tea with after meals
- Milk or tea with salty foods
- Cucumber raita
All these combinations of food slow down the digestive processes and produce toxins in the body.
If you are someone who is already suffering from digestion issues you should avoid
- Milk daliya
- Vegetable salads post-sunset
- Too many dry fruits at once
All these foods are hard to digest and post-sunset we should eat light food because the capacity of the body to digest decreases as the sun goes down.
Have you noticed that when you get extremely anxious your stomach tends to get loose?
This is because your state of mind is directly linked to the functioning of your digestive system.
In today’s world stress has become part and parcel of everyone’s life, be it peer pressure, work pressure, work-life balance, or anything for that matter, stress comes complementary.
Relax, give yourself a break, manage your stress, sweat it out.
All of this helps.
- Preparing meals in advance
I’ll share a personal story here, one day when I was returning from my walk I met this lady who was also on her walk so for some time we did chit chat, and since it was evening time I told her that I have to leave because it’s cooking time. So she laughed out loud and asked me do you cook every day?
And I was just thinking in my head
then what am I supposed to do?
And then she told me that she cooks her main meals in advance and not just for one day, for 3-4 days straight.
I couldn’t believe my ears and thought about how people are so casual about their health.
And I believe many people are practicing the same culture.
See we have to understand that every food has a shelf life after which it starts losing its nutrients and other values.
According to Ayurveda
“The fresher the food
The easier it will get digested
The more nutrients it will provide”
It is advised to eat the meal within 3 hours or utmost 5 hours of its preparation.
- Irregular eating timings
Most people have erratic timing of eating in this modern time.
Skipping breakfast because you are late for work, munching snacks at midnight while watching a movie. All these are common affairs.
What happens is when you eat food at different timings your body gets confused and fails to secrete digestive enzymes.
So to have good gut health eat at a fixed time.
GOOD HABITS TO IMPROVE DIGESTION
- Adding multi-grains to diet
It is seen that people in north India generally prefer wheat in all their 3 main meals whereas people of south India prefer rice in all their 3 main meals.
Well, this is not the right way.
Your diet should have a balance of grains.
For example, you can have besan(gram flour) cheela, oats in breakfast rice for lunch, and chapati at night.
You can also eat multigrain chapati.
- Having your daily dose of probiotics
Probiotics are good bacterias that are good for your gut health.
You don’t even need supplements to have probiotics in your diet.
Just have curd with or without jaggery powder before your breakfast and you are done.
Other probiotics include vinegar, idli, paneer, etc.
- Adding ghee to your diet
There is a big myth that ghee/clarified butter tends to make us fat, but that’s not true at all.
India’s top celebrity dietician and nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar emphasizes the importance of adding ghee to our diet.
Ghee is rich in Butyric acid which serves as a major source of energy for both the colon and the large intestine. Both these organs play a vital role in the absorption of nutrients and the elimination of waste.
Ghee keeps the food pipe lubricated and intestines soft.
Add 2-3 spoons of ghee into your daily diet.
- Inculcating physical activities
Physical activities help a lot in improving our digestive health.
If not workout, 10-20 minutes of a walk after meals will also help.
- Good quality sleep
A good night’s sleep is the most underrated yet one of the most important factors to keep your gut health good.
When your body sleeps, the digestive system works faster.
You may have noticed that after waking from a good night’s sleep you may have this instant urge to empty your bowel.
It is advised to sleep on the left side for proper digestion.
HOW CAN WE IMPROVE DIGESTION INSTANTLY?
- Eat mindfully
Sometimes it happens that we eat more than what is required.
Mindful eating can reduce overeating and hence makes the digestion process easier.
How can I eat mindfully?
- Eat without distraction
- Eat slowly, chew the food
- Stop when you feel full
- Engage your senses by observing the colors, types of food on your plate
- Appreciate the food
- Aloevera juice
Aloevera juice helps to increase the water content in the intestines and it helps to pass the stool easily.
Add 20 ml of aloe vera juice in warm water and have it empty stomach in the morning.
- Asafoetida (hing) water
Asafoetida water is a strong spice that is very beneficial in soothing gas problems.
How to make asafoetida water?
- Take a glass of warm water
- Just mix two pinches of asafoetida and drink it.
However, some of you may find the smell of asafoetida water strong and unbearable. So you can add asafoetida while cooking your vegetables
- Cumin/Jeera water
Jeera water proves to be one of the best remedies for digestive problems.
How to make Cumin/jeera water?
- In a pan add 1 glass of water
- Add one spoon of cumin/jeera to the water
- Let it boil until the water reduces to half the quantity
- Strain and drink this water
It is recommended to chew the leftover cumin for better results
This water increases the activity of digestive enzymes speeding the digestion.
- Psyllium husk/isabgol
It is one of the best ways of clearing your digestive tract
If you are suffering from constipation
Mix one spoon of isabgol in one glass of warm milk 30 minutes before going to bed.
If you are suffering from diarrhea
Add one spoon of isabgol to one bowl of curd and have it in the morning empty stomach
- Chew carom and fennel seeds
You must have seen in restaurants, they offer fennel seeds (Sauf) after having the meal.
Have you wondered why?
It is because it boosts the digestion process.
Carom seeds (ajwain) are a little difficult to chew because of their strong taste so you can add them to your dough or curd.
LIFESTYLE CHANGES TO IMPROVE DIGESTION
- Hydrate well
Waterworks like magic in clearing the toxins and solid wastes from the body naturally.
Eat lots of fruit that has high water content.
Drink at least 8-9 glasses of water every day.
Experiment with your water to make it more exciting like adding a slice of lime or cucumber for flavor.
- Chew the food properly
How many times do you chew one bite of food?
In today’s busy lifestyle people hardly chew the food that they eat
The human body is designed in such a way that 50% of the digestion process should be completed in the mouth itself.
This is the place where saliva which consists of special digestive enzymes gets mixed with the food.
It is advised to chew every bite at least 32 times before swallowing.
No, I am not joking
I know that in today’s hard and fast life where we have to rush for every little thing, this practice can be tough to follow but at least we can try and it is also worth trying so why not?
- Practice vajrasana after meals
Vajrasana is the most effective pose for a stronger digestive system.
Sitting in vajrasana stimulates vajranadi which facilitates digestion.
When you sit in this asana more blood flows to your stomach area hence improving digestion.
It is recommended to sit in vajrasana for 3-5 minutes after a meal to help in digestion in a big way.
Exercises increase blood circulation in the digestive system.
Any form of exercise or physical activity helps the food to travel through the digestive tract faster.
A study shows that even light exercises like walking post meals, jogging, or cycling may also help to get desired results.
Regular eating of
- Junk food
- Processed food
- Refined food
- Deep-fried foods
- Food with artificial flavor, colors
- A study shows that food with artificial sweeteners
may hamper your digestive system in the long run because they tend to stick on the inner walls of the intestines and thus make the process difficult
Once in a while, it is acceptable but does not make it a habit.
WHAT TO EAT?
Fiber-rich whole grains like
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat
Probiotics such as
Fruits to eat
These fruits are very high in digestive enzymes and antioxidants.
Though digestion problems are very common these days the good is that it is easily curable.
Small changes in food habits and lifestyle changes are enough to keep the digestion process smooth.
However if you feel that the symptoms are severe like feeling uncomfortable and nauseous after meals, bloating, etc you must see a doctor.
Promise yourself today that you are going to take care of your gut health more than before.
And when your gut will be healthy then only it will give you the much needed ‘gut feeling’(pun intended)
Have you ever wondered why we say gut feeling?
If you know, do let me know and if not, that’s your homework.