1. Eat in a relaxed way in a pleasant setting and take your time. Chew your food well, ideally until it is liquid. If you are under emotional pressure or in a hurry, eat simple food with fresh juice such as yogurt, a few sunflower seeds, a protein bar or fruit.
2. Keep up your exercise regimen. Walking and yoga are both particularly good for digestion support. If you want to do any type of strenuous exercise, wait at least two hours after eating.
3. Drink enough water (6 to 8 cups a day), but not with meals (it dilutes digestive enzymes) unless you’re on a weight-loss diet trying to lower food intake. Minimize ice cold drinks and consume more soothing warm drinks such as hot lemon water or herbal teas.
4. Get enough fiber in your diet, whether from vegetables and fruits, bran, psyllium or chia seeds, and an adequate amount of whole grains and fresh sprouts (or cooked legumes if digested well).
For dealing with digestive problems, try these tips:
5. Remove food allergens from your diet. Learn which foods cause reactions and affect how you feel. See my book, The False Fat Diet. You may need a blood test to check your food sensitivities.
6. Minimize toxins and irritants; eat organic foods whenever possible and eat simply. People who have digestive disorders should avoid additives, such as fluoride (often added to toothpaste) and carageenan (found in cottage cheese and other foods), both of which can act as irritants.
7. If you have chronic indigestion, try supplementing your meals with enzymes and/or hydrochloric acid. If that doesn’t help, ask your doctor to test you for these factors. Then, supplement as needed with enzymes (to aid digestion), bicarbonate soda (for excess acid), or betaine hydrochloride capsules (for deficient stomach acid).
8. Learn your best personal remedies for digestive upsets. You can learn to minimize constipation and diarrhea by using foods, herbs and nutrients that help to prevent these common ailments, and cope with them when they do occur.
9. Occasional indigestion, heartburn, bloating after you eat and flatulence are normal, or at least quite common, and they can be remedied. Chewing well and following Food Combining guidelines can help with digestion, but if you have ongoing symptoms of digestive upset, get tested to see if you have food allergies (reactions), low or high stomach acid, yeast overgrowth, or other bad bugs. Your health care practitioner can order these tests from a specialty lab.
10. Support and repair the digestive tract with the right nutrients, such as glutamine and other vitamins and minerals (see The Detox Diet book). Remember: Eat a low allergenic diet, find the best foods that feel right to you and chew your food well.
© 2015 by Elson Haas, MD