I believe there are two major systems that we need to pay smart attention to when it comes to our health. First, your immune system – ensuring it is strong and clean will keep you away from sickness and disease longer. Second is your digestive system. After losing my mom in 2013 to cholangiocarcinoma, cancer of the bile duct, I made a mindful decision to really start to pay attention to my digestive health. When you think about it, everything comes in and out of our digestive system, and 80% of our immune system is IN our digestive system. So, having a clean and healthy one makes perfect sense if we want to live longer and healthier right?! If you’re still with me, keep reading.
Issues with your digestive system can come out in many forms, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), bloating, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, indigestion, gas, acid reflex and more. Basically, everything that is super uncomfortable and can be super painful. But digestive issues don’t stop there. They can cause problems throughout your entire body. Allergies, autoimmune disease, acne, chronic fatigue, mood disorders, brain fog and even cancer can all be results of digestive system issues.
Now that we know what we DO NOT want, what can we expect from having a clean and healthy digestive system? First, when your digestive system is healthy, you absorb nutrients much better and in turn feed your cells more vitamins, minerals, protein, carbs, water and (good) fats. In turn, it more efficiently gets rid of yeast, allergens, toxins and the like.
Secondly, when your digestive system is healthy, your immune system is stronger. Definitely a win-win. Third, a health digestive system reduces inflammation in your body. When your body is experiencing ‘bad inflammation’ you are putting yourself at risk for a host of issues and diseases including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression and cancer. Lastly, a healthy digestive is great for your brain health. For more on brain health and what foods are best to eat for that big ol brain, see here.
What can YOU do, starting today, to get your digestive system healthier? LOTS! Here are my top 14 tips:
- Eat foods that are high in fiber including whole grains, raw vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts and beans.
- Add a pre and/or probiotic to your day. I use Pearls Acidophilus Probiotic by Nature’s Way. This will increase the good bacteria in your stomach, which is what you definitely want.
- Incorporate digestive enzymes into your day. They help your digestivetract properly break down foods that contain difficult-to-digest proteins, fats and carbohydrates. I typically take one before a large meal, or a meal that my body isn’t used to – so basically when I eat out. If your system is in rough shape right now, I would suggest one before every meal to get started.
- Hydrate yourself! Are you drinking enough water? I am the worst for this. But it really is key to a healthy digestive system.
- Try to eat consistently at the same time every day. Whether you are intermittent fasting or eating morning, noon and night, make your times the same each day.
- Eat the same foods as often as possible. Your digestive system will get used to breaking down the same foods and make it easier on your system. It isn’t as boring as it sounds – same healthy ingredients, different ways.
- Workout! Another great reason to get moving is that it is great for your digestive health.
- De-stress! I know – easier said than done on this one for sure. But think about how crappy your stomach feels when you are stressed out. People over eat, under eat, get constipated, have diarrhea – a whole slew of digestive problems. Do your best to lower your stress levels.
- Do not overmedicate yourself. Whether we are talking antibiotics or over the counter medications, try to heal your system naturally before you run for a pill. Of course, sometimes these are needed, and you should listen to your doctor or health care professional, but running for an Advil for a dull headache or a Tums because you feel like you need to burp is wreaking havoc on your body.
- Eat real food! Especially nutrient dense foods like kale, spinach, salmon and more. For my list of best foods to add in, see here.
- Eat healthy fats! A scoop of raw organic coconut oil in the morning is great for this. Also, think of nuts, avocados, fatty fish and extra virgin olive oil.
- In the morning, add a one ounce shot of raw organic apple cider vinegar to your water. It’s not the best tasting thing, but don’t worry, you’ll get used to it. And what it does for your digestive system is exceptional, so worth the sour face in the beginning.
- Slurp down a spoon full of aloe vera in the morning. It’s a fairly refreshing taste, and can be purchased at your local health food store. This helps clean your system daily.
- Listen to what feels good in your body! After finishing a meal, if you have heartburn, indigestion, feel sluggish, have diarrhea – why are you going to eat this again? Food should not do this to you! For some reason, your body is not agreeing with what you just ate or drank. So, stop. And just the same, if after eating a meal you feel energetic, sharp in the mind, and your body feels good, do that more. Sounds simple right?! We think so too, but people reach for antacids instead of not eating what hurts them.
Like what you read? Feel free to comment below on your experience with digestive strength or issues. And be sure to sign up for our newsletter here for the best information on health for women!