How To Improve Your Digestion: 7 Easy Ways To Feel Better Today #healthyeating #digestion

How To Improve Your Digestion: 7 Easy Ways To Feel Better Today

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Have you ever felt “off” but couldn’t quite put your finger on why? Maybe you’re tired and irritable, or you just don’t feel 100 percent. If you aren’t sure what’s causing your symptoms, there might be one place you haven’t thought to look yet: your gut. That’s right, many health issues and symptoms are tied to the status of your digestive system.

Digestion is a complex and intricate system, and trouble starts when nutrients aren’t digested properly. While this often results in more well-known stomach symptoms like gas and bloating, research is now looking into how problems in the gut might also lead to other more serious health issues — like depression, stress, anxiety, fatigue and allergies.

In other words, focusing on your digestive health may be the missing link to finding overall health. To improve your digestion and feel better, here are seven strategies you can start using today.

1. Enjoy more probiotics.

Probiotics are health rockstars. Their job is to balance your gut with good bacteria and kill off the “bad guys,” thus improving your digestive system. Yogurt is one of the best-known ways to add more probiotics to your diet, but you should also consider fermented foods. Kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha are great examples you can enjoy every day. Not only will they add a dose of probiotics, but they’re also nutrient-dense and researchshows they aid in digestion.

2. Take smaller bites.

Chewing your food more thoroughly promotes digestion success. And when food particles are reduced in size during the chewing process, your body better absorbs some vitamins and minerals. Plus, recent studies show that thorough chewing not only aids in digestion, but might also help with some brain functions, like alertness and attention.

3. Swap coffee for tea.

While most of us like to enjoy a cup (or two) of Joe in the morning, coffee is very acidic, dehydrating, and can irritate the lining of your stomach. I recommend switching out coffee for green tea. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, green tea has been recommended for thousands of years to help with digestive problems. Plus, it’s high in antioxidants and studies suggest it can help protect against diabetes and obesity.

4. Stay hydrated.

Drink up! Water helps your body digest food and also aids in the removal of toxins. Aim to down at least eight glasses of H2O per day.

But try to steer clear of overly chilled beverages. According to Ayurvedic Medicine, avoiding ice and drinking warm or room-temperature water instead can strengthen your digestive power and promote the elimination of waste.

5. Add lemon to drinks and meals.

If you find water boring to drink, try adding a wedge of lemon. Not only will it increase the flavor, but research shows that lemon — and other citrus fruits — can help reduce inflammation in the body. Some studies also suggest that lemon helps the body absorb more antioxidants from other foods.

6. Follow the 80/20 food rule.

Fill your plate according to the “80/20” ratio, where at least 80% of your diet is plants. Doing so will help you naturally get more fiber, which moves waste and toxins through your digestive system and keeps you regular. Vegetables, especially artichokes and asparagus, are also full of prebiotics, which help with healthy digestion.

7. Keep stress under control.

It may seem surprising, but studies suggest that stress and other psychological factors can also play a role in our digestion and gut health. So it’s important to find smart ways to manage your stress. Learning how to deep breath is one great tool to start with. You might also consider entering into a yoga or meditation practice, which can help you ensure that stressful situations don’t start to wreck your gut health.

Ready to Start Eating Again?

Smart Shopping by Dr. Sears LEAN

You can afford to buy and eat healthy foods during tough times. Our desire to feed our family healthy foods is sometimes challenged by budgetary concerns over the cost of healthier foods.  Here are some great tips on how you can streeeeeetch your dollar:

Click here to download a Traffic Light Eating Shopping list of suggested foods!

Portion Control: Yes, portion control, not only can proper portions help you minimize overeating, it can save you money on uneaten food.  One recent recent report said that we can waste up to 30% of our food because we cook too much and many times throw away what is left on our plates.  But for those who tend to clear their over portioned plates…the savings may also include your health.

Fruits & Vegetables: Of course fresh is preferable, however, when not in season or on sale, many times fresh can be expensive.  So consider frozen which has some good benefits.  Flash-frozen fruits and vegetables retain many of their nutrients that are many times lost with fresh produce when it spends too much time on the shelf or in the truck on the way to your store.  The other benefit is that frozen will not spoil.

Private Label or Store Brands:These are not you mother’s private label products of the past, in many cases store brands are equal or better in quality than many of the national brands; in many cases, the national brands produce the store brands.  And, for those who prefer organics, you’ll now find many organic store brands.

Buy Local:  There is a resurgence of farmers markets around the country, and most carry locally grown produce that is in season.  Check around for a farmers market or produce stand in your area, you might find some great produce and prices.

Bulk Up:  That’s right, Costco, Sams & BJ’s offer some great values…provided you don’t get carried away.  For fresh meat, poultry, and fish buying in bulk, individually wrapping portions, and placing them in your freezer is a great way to save.  Also, many natural food stores offer some products such as oatmeal in bulk that are a better value than the same thing in a package.

Play the Game: First off, it always make sense to shop the ads and clip those coupons; but, that sometimes can be a time-consuming process.  One way to make this easier and get the best of both worlds is the Grocery Game (www.grocerygame.com) where for a few dollars you can save a ton.  They do the work for you by matching up a stores weekly specials with the coupons available in your Sunday newspaper, and the savings can be remarkable.  Don’t veer away from healthy just for the savings, if what you know is right to eat is not on sale, take the savings from non-food items and apply the difference to healthier foods.  Here are some more sites that can help save you money:

Shop Online:  But wait a minute, doesn’t that cost money?  Well yes, generally around $10, however, you may come out ahead by skipping the impulse purchases and by being able to shop the specials online when you may miss them in-store.  In most cases you may also use your coupons without having to shuffle through them while you are shopping and you’ll save on gas.

Value Protein:  Protein does not always take the shape of meat, poultry or fish.  Less costly alternatives are available in nuts, beans, tofu, peanut butter (watch out for peanut butters with hydrogenated oils in most national brands) and eggs.  The old reliable PB&J sandwich is a great way for kids to get protein, just substitute the “J” for the pure fruit alternative.

Become a Savvy Shopper

Smart Shopping by Dr. Sears LEAN

Have you ever wondered what some of those words on the nutrition facts label and the ingredients lists really mean?  Manufacturers are getting more and more clever in choosing words to put on their labels and the confused shopper is left to “trust” the manufacturer.  We have decided that it is time you know what you are putting into you and your child’s body.  Here are some definitions to help you make better choices in the supermarket:

Ascorbic acid: This is just another name for vitamin C.  It is a citrus fruit derivative and acts as a preservative, helping prevent oxidation.  When you add lemon or lime to avocado to prevent it from turning brown, you are adding ascorbic acid.

Acacia and guar gum: These are binding agents and help thicken food and are harvested from the tree or shrub with the same name.

Food additives/colors: Chemically created substances that are added to foods to enhance flavor or appearance.

  • These “excitotoxins” are known to alter the chemistry of the brain and include artificial sweeteners like aspartame, MSG, food colorings and preservatives.
  • Have no nutritional value.?Linked to neurological diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.?A child’s growing brain if four times more sensitive to excitotoxins.?Can cause severe headaches and mood swings in both children and adults

GRAS: Generally recommended as safe. This means that the product is generally recognized by the scientific community as safe to add to foods but that it might not have been specifically tested for adverse effects.

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS): An inexpensive sweetener added to many processed food items, especially “low-fat” foods.  Because of it is not a “natural” product it does not break down quickly, therefore extending the shelf life for a multitude of products.  A chemical process developed in the 1970’s that converts the semi-sweet cornstarch (corn) sugars to much-sweeter fructose.

  • Unlike natural sugars, HFCS does not trigger the release of the hormone leptin, part of the body’s natural system that creates the feeling of fullness and satisfaction.  Those who have HFCS regularly in their diet are more likely to overeat.
  • HFCS is believed to increase blood fats more than the same amount of table sugar, causing a rise in bad cholesterol which has been linked to heart disease

Hydrogenated oils (or partially hydrogenated oils): An unhealthy fat that results from food manufacturers pumping hydrogen gas into vegetable oil, a process called “hydrogenation.” This process chemically changes these unsaturated fats and provides some economical advantages for food manufacturers.  First, hydrogenation helps oil withstand higher heat (like deep-frying in many fast food restaurants) and second, it gives products a longer shelf-life because these chemically altered fats don’t spoil as fast as natural oils.

  • Our bodies do not recognize these chemically altered fats like natural fats, so when these unnatural fats are absorbed into our body’s cell ?membranes, they become more rigid and they interfere with the cell membranes’ growth and function.
  • Hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils are known to raise cholesterol, decrease immunity, increase heart disease, increase many cancers, increase the chance of developing diabetes, and increase abdominal fat, which in turn increases the risk of many other diseases.

L. bulgaricus, S. thermophilus, L. acidophilus, Bifidus, L. casei, and L. reuteri: These are all beneficial bacteria and are often added to yogurt.  Beneficial bacteria help the body in the digestion process.

Lecithin: Made from a component of soybeans or egg yolks and is used to help foods stay moist.

Minimally processed: Raw material is not fundamentally altered.
Natural:

  • Meat, poultry, and eggs: legally can contain no artificial ingredients or added colors.  They can only be minimally processed.

All other foods: “Natural” has no legal meaning. The FDA has no definition of the term “natural.” This means that companies can put a “natural” label on almost any product.

Organic: Organic production is based on a system of farming that maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers. Organically produced foods also must be produced without the use of antibiotics, synthetic hormones, genetic engineering and other excluded practices, sewage sludge, or irradiation. Cloning animals or using their products would be considered inconsistent with organic practices.  Organic foods are minimally processed without artificial ingredients, preservatives, or irradiation to maintain the integrity of the food. (Source: http://www.ota.com/definition/quickoverview.html)

Trans-fats: The fat that results from a vegetable oil that has gone through the process of “hydrogenation.”  These fats are called “trans-fats” because the process of hydrogenation transports atoms from one side of the fat molecule to the other.

  • If an ingredients label has the words “hydrogenated oils” or “partially hydrogenated oils” listed the product contains trans-fats.
  • If trans-fats are less than .5% of a serving, the food manufacturer can legally say “No trans fats” on the packaging.

US Department of Health & Human Services: Eat Healthy

Excerpted from US Department of Health & Human Services Office of Women’s Health

Following a healthy eating plan doesn’t mean that you can’t indulge every now and then. If what you eat is generally low in fat (especially saturated and trans fat) and sugars and you are getting enough vitamins and minerals, you may indulge in a rich dessert or serving of fried food every once in a while. If, on the other hand, you eat a lot of high-calorie foods, you are likely to get all the calories you need quickly without getting enough vital nutrients.

To help prevent heart disease, stroke, and perhaps other diseases, you should eat mainly:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Grains (at least half of your grains should be whole grains, such as whole wheat, oatmeal, and brown rice)
  • Fat-free or low-fat versions of milk, cheese, yogurt, and other milk products
  • Fish, skinless poultry, lean red meats, dry beans, eggs, and nuts
  • Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats

Also, you should limit the amount of foods you eat that contain:

  • Saturated fat
  • Trans fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium
  • Added sugars

Mission #22: Develop Good Eating Habits

What’s considered healthy these days in terms of nutrition seems to be a matter of opinion. You have the Traditionalists who believe you can eat anything in moderation; Naturalists who believe foods should be consumed in their original, organic, unprocessed state; Vegetarians who eat no meat; Vegans who consume and use only non-animal-based food products; and Raw Foodists who believe foods should be uncooked for optimal nutrition. Unless you have developed extremely good eating habits from the start, you will probably have to make some adjustments in your diet over the course of your lifetime.

What works for you when you are twenty, might not work for you when you’re forty. So, regardless of the school of thought you subscribe to, there is something you can learn from each group. For example, if you are fairly active and want to stay in general good health and prevent most physical problems caused by poor nutrition, you may find that the Traditionalist approach to eating works for you. If you are inactive or genetically inclined to develop diabetes or heart disease, you may want to draw from the Naturalists and avoid fast food and heavily processed foods and sugars; reduce or eliminate meats like the Vegetarians and Vegans; and introduce more of the uncooked fruits and vegetables of the Raw Foodist.

The point is to adapt your eating habits to meet your nutritional needs. Being completely unaware or unwilling to change what you consume can have devastating results on your health. In addition, if you are unable to control cravings, buy the healthiest junk foods possible and start exercising. Exercise gives you the serotonin boost you need to help stop food cravings.


This post relates to Life Strategy: Balance: Eating Habits

Mission #4: Save Ourselves From Roller Coaster Diets

from www.beyonddieting.com/

Keep Eating!

Starving yourself for weight loss is not the answer. It slows your metabolism and deprives your body of much needed nutrients. To lose weight you must eat the right foods, manage your stress, and exercise.

How?

  • See your weight loss as a goal instead of something to overcome.
  • Start slow. Do not be tempted to make drastic changes too quickly.
  • Eat freshly prepared food.  Include lots of lots veggies, brown rice (not white rice), sweet potatoes (not white potatoes), poultry, fish, and fresh fruit (not canned). Avoid fast food and sugary snacks.
  • Take breaks throughout your day so you can rest your eyes, stretch, and breathe deeply.
  • Ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to go out for brisk walks, and build from there.

Additional Resource

Inspired by the book, The Magic of Succeeding: Baby-Stepping Your Thoughts, Goals, and Life