If you’re looking for ways to improve digestion, you’re certainly not alone.
Digestive problems are one of the number one health concerns that individuals suffer from today for various reasons.
And if you’ve ever had digestive problems yourself, you know how difficult they can be to overcome because the reasons that they occur are not always easy to figure out.
Plus, many doctors don’t always understand digestive disorders due to the varying causes that can lead people to suffer from them.
The Problem With Digestive Disorders and Standard Medical Care:
For instance, individuals who seek medical help often receive a generic diagnosis of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and are sent home to live with symptoms like gas, bloating, irregularity, pain, problems digesting certain food groups, or malabsorption issues of many kinds.
These symptoms may fall under the category of IBS, but they can also be a major sign of serious health problems such as ovarian cancer, bacterial infections, autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s, or SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth).
The common treatments for digestive orders can also lead to problems later on down the road.
For instance, many individuals who seek standard medical care for their digestive issues are usually given high doses of antibiotics which kill the good bacteria in the digestive tract.
And popping antacids and liquid stomach medications that are sold over the counter don’t treat the real issue at hand.
These treatments eventually end up killing off good bacteria in the digestive tract which is the most crucial part of healing any digestive problem.
What About Probiotics?
Probiotics are healthy forms of bacteria that you need in your digestive tract and they are found in both supplement and food form.
You may have heard that taking a probiotic can help solve digestive disorders, but there is more to the probiotic story than you think.
Probiotics are only beneficial if you take a high-quality brand with the right strains and in the right dosage for your body.
12 Steps to Improve Your Digestion Right at Home:
If you’re looking to improve your digestion, here are 12 tips you can do right at home that will give you some relief in less than 48 hours.
While they are not necessarily a proper substitution for medical care, they might help you get some relief from symptoms and help reset your digestive system to prevent you from having to take medications.
1. Rejuvenate with a REAL Food Reboot
Excess toxins can be a cause of digestive problems for many people, causing either diarrhea, constipation or in the case of many with IBS – both!
Eliminating the foods that create inflammation in your body while replacing them with whole, nourishing and nutrient-dense foods is one of the best ways to reset your digestive and help you troubleshoot what’s really going on in there.
- Ditch the artificial sweeteners. These have been shown to drastically alter gut bacteria which we already know is a very important part of healthy digestion and overall health.
- Eat fewer processed foods. These foods tend to be empty calories with little to no nutrient value and are often full of refined sugars, artificial flavors, colors and preservatives that cause harm to your kidneys and liver and are addictive.
- Eliminate gluten from your diet. Gluten is a common allergen and gut irritant (even for those without gluten allergies like celiac disease).
- Avoid processed soy. Soy interferes with the absorption of nutrients and causes a hormone imbalance in the body when consumed in large quantities (i.e. as soy protein isolates in processed foods and beverages).
- Try our 14-day Seasonal REAL Food Reboot. Our popular 2 week programs feature meals that are designed to help you improve your digestion, increase your energy levels and curb cravings.
2. Cut Out Food Allergens
For the next two days, you’ll want to cut out all major food allergens to eliminate any possible triggers of your digestive problems.
If your body is sensitive or allergic to a food, it can trigger a number of reactions in your digestive system and immune system that lead to the issues you may be suffering from.
The top food allergens are:
- Dairy (all milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, cream and anything else that comes from a cow)
- Gluten (wheat, barley, and rye)
- Tree Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans)
Some other foods that can cause cross-reactive symptoms in people are:
While many of these foods have multiple health benefits, it’s in your best interest to lay off them for the next few days.
This will give your body a break from the most potentially allergenic foods and help you digest the foods you will be eating much better.
3. Skip the Meat for Now
If you’re a meat lover, you’ll need to take 2 days away from the meat and focus on easier to digest foods.
Meat takes longer to digest than any other food and it can also lead to bacterial imbalances in the digestive tract you want to avoid.
This means avoiding all pork, red meat, and if you choose to, poultry.
However, poultry and white fish like cod, chunk light tuna, or halibut may be well tolerated by some people.
4. Focus on Lots of Vegetables at Meals
Vegetables heal the body more quickly than any other food.
They also provide enough fiber to feed the good bacteria in your digestive tract without overloading the system.
While you can’t live off vegetables, you will need to be sure to include more of them the next 48 hours and prepare them in a way that’s easy to digest.
Cooked vegetables like carrots, zucchini, sweet potatoes, gold potatoes, acorn squash and butternut squash are all great options.
These foods are especially healing and nourishing to the body and provide fiber to keep you full.
5. Eat Berries and an Apple Each Day
Green apples even have properties in them that have been shown to eliminate acidity in the body and even contain malic acid, a special nutrient linked to preventing cancer.
Berries are also fantastic for fighting bad bacteria due to the antioxidant content. So enjoy some berries or apples in a smoothie, bowl of gluten-free oatmeal, or have them as a snack or dessert.
6. Eat Pineapple 30 minutes Before Each Meal
Pineapple is high in bromelain, a type of digestive enzyme that breaks down protein in the body, relieves bloating, and it’s high in Vitamin C which will help keep you regular and improve your immune system. It’s also rich in nutrients that lower stress and improve your mood, such as manganese.
Have some frozen or fresh pineapple before each of your meals.
It will help you digest the meal much better and can even relieve some tummy pain if that’s something you suffer from.
One cup is a great place to start which also provides 100% of your daily Vitamin C needs.
7. Eat Especially Safe Foods for the Next 48 Hours
Along with vegetables and some fruits, there are certain safe foods you should stick with the next two days to provide your body enough calories without having to work too hard to digest them.
Great options include:
- Gluten-free oatmeal (plain rolled or quick oats)
- Unsweetened non-dairy milk
- Wild rice ( which is a grass, not a grain and is easier to digest and not allergenic like other types of rice)
- Vegetable broth or chicken stock
- Baked, boiled and skinned poultry (if you choose to eat meat, but please do choose organic and antibiotic free options to avoid bacteria in conventional poultry products)
- Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, coconut kefir, and coconut yogurt (make sure these have no dairy in them)
- White, very lean (low-fat) fish such as halibut and cod – choose wild-caught and only if you tolerate fish
Add these foods to your vegetables and fruits to improve your digestion during meals. They’re all low in fat and very easy on the system.
If you tolerate rice, you may also include brown or black rice during your meals since these two types of rice are very nutrient-dense foods.
8. Take Flax Daily
To improve digestion and relieve constipation and diarrhea since it’s a great source of easy-to-digest fiber, just be sure to consume it ground and not whole.
Take one tablespoon of ground flaxseed daily.
You can add it to oatmeal or make a smoothie with it.
It will provide your body with omega-3 fatty acids that you need for overall health and give you just enough fiber to keep things moving if the foods above aren’t doing it for you.
Flax is also a great way to take in your essential fatty acids each day, so purchase some and make it a regular part of your routine.
9. Stick to Water and Herbal Tea
For the next few days, make it your goal to only consume water and herbal tea in place of harsh stimulants such as coffee, sugary drinks, and energy drinks which all upset the digestive tract.
While coffee does have some benefits for your health, the goal for the next 48 hours is to give your system some rest.
Other options include fennel, dandelion, and pau d’arco tea which improve elimination and help detoxify the liver.
Try to drink at least 8 cups of water a day if you can. It will flush out the toxins from your body, keep you hydrated, and also prevent you from wanting to snack when you’re really just thirsty.
10. Boost your stomach acid
That’s right. Boost it.
The truth is that high levels of hydrochloric acid, or ‘stomach acid’, are often not the cause of heartburn as we’ve been lead to believe.
In fact, it’s often too little stomach acid that’s to blame.
In order for food to be released from the stomach into the small intestine where most of the digestion and absorption of nutrients occurs, food needs to be in a liquid state.
So if you don’t chew each mouthful thoroughly and you have low stomach acid that means your stomach needs to do more ‘mechanical’ digesting – or more churning and squeezing, to break the food down.
This mechanical digestion takes more time which means food is left in the stomach longer where it can start to ferment, causing pressure to build (read: gas and bloating).
What you now have is the perfect storm with regards to heartburn because the increased pressure exerts force on the esophageal sphincter (the muscle that closes the esophagus off from the stomach) making the acid you do have more likely to splash back up into the esophagus.
Here are three simple ways to boost stomach acid naturally:
- Add freshly squeezed lemon juice to the water you drink between meals.
- Drink 1-2 teaspoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a small amount of water before each meal.
- Chew your food. Chew each mouthful until it is nearly impossible to discern what was in the bite you took. This may mean upwards of 15-20 chews per bite.
11. Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is an amazing fermented drink that is high in prebiotics.
Prebiotics are types of foods that feed good bacteria (probiotics) in the digestive tract.
Apple cider vinegar that is raw and organic also contains good bacteria cultures that provide you with some probiotics.
It can help relieve indigestion, pain, nausea, bloating, constipation, and improve the digestion of protein.
Some studies show that it can also improve blood sugar regulation before and after meals.
Take 1 tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar in a glass of water with some lemon (and stevia if you need some sweetness) with a dash of ginger.
Do this again in the afternoon and again before dinner.
It’s a great way to nourish your body and improve your digestion before and between meals.
12. Take a High-Quality Probiotic and Digestive Enzyme
These supplements do not cure all types of digestive disorders.
The food has to be right first, but after you’ve taken the above steps and have a proper diet in order, probiotics and digestive enzymes can really take things up a notch in terms of improving your digestion.
Probiotics can improve irregularity, overall digestion, and can relieve bloating and gas while helping you absorb more nutrients from your food.
When you purchase a probiotic, be sure you buy one that is refrigerated and is free from dairy, gluten, corn, and soy to be sure you’re not consuming any potential allergens.
Buy a recommended brand, preferably one that is non-GMO.
If you’re not sure what strength of probiotics you should be taking, start with 10 billion and work your way up.
Severe digestive disorders may require you to take more, such as up to 50 – 90 billion.
Also, try to purchase a probiotic that contains at least 10 different strains of bacteria or more. The more strains of good bacteria you have in your digestive system, the better off your gut will be able to fight off bad bacteria.
Probiotics should be taken on an empty stomach 30 minutes or 15 minutes before each meal.
Digestive enzymes are also helpful and stronger than some foods, such as pineapple, at breaking down different food groups in the body.
Since we’ve simplified your eating routine, you may not need a digestive enzyme, but if you find you’re still struggling with bloating during and after meal time with the approved foods above, try taking 2 digestive enzymes with your meals.
They can improve digestion and break down food more quickly, but be sure to look for non-GMO brands free from all major allergens when you go to purchase them.
Top 5 Superfoods that Help Digestion
Too much stress, poor dietary habits, harmful environmental toxins, viral infections, certain medications and frequent use of antibiotics are not good for your digestive system.
Digestion, one the vital processes of the body, needs extra care.
Proper intake of water coupled with a balanced diet can go a long way to promote healthy digestion.
It is highly advisable to choose your food properly to reduce bloating, belching, abdominal discomfort, or any other symptoms of an overburdened digestive system.
There are many foods that aid digestion and will keep your stomach happy.
Ginger can effectively treat various gastrointestinal (GI) discomforts.
The anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties in ginger can curb digestive spasms, gas, indigestion, nausea and bloating.
- Simmer a few slices of ginger in boiling water to make ginger tea. Drink it regularly. This strong tea helps stimulate saliva, bile and gastric juice production to aid digestion.
- You can also extract the juice of a small piece of ginger and take it with a spoon of honey before meals to improve your digestion.
This popular herb is known to work wonders in aiding digestive processes due to its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.
The cooling properties that peppermint possesses can calm an upset digestive system and accelerate healing.
- Sprinkle some fresh peppermint leaves over your dishes or add it to your salads.
- You can also add a drop or two of peppermint oil to a glass of water and drink it once or twice daily. This essential oil works as a cleanser, purifier, and detoxifier.
Yogurt is one of the best foods for improving digestive health.
It is a probiotic food, meaning that it contains a high amount of ‘good’ bacteria (lactobacilli) that plays a key role in the digestion process and reduces problems like indigestion, diarrhea, and constipation.
When buying yogurt, make sure the label lists “live” or “active” cultures. Yogurts with added fiber are even better.
Try to eat plain, unsweetened yogurt and, if you like you can add some fiber-rich berries or honey to sweeten it.
4. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes eaten with the skins on will have an immense effect on your digestive health.
They also contain good amounts of dietary fiber, complex carbohydrates, vitamins B6 and C, and manganese that help in digestion.
Sweet potatoes can be used to treat peptic ulcers, duodenal ulcers and some other serious and inflammatory bowel problems.
Sweet potatoes are also easy to digest because they are mainly starch.
According to recent research, as the cyanidins and peonidins and other color-related phytonutrients present in sweet potatoes pass through the digestive tract, they help lower the potential health risk posed by heavy metals and oxygen radicals.
This tasty fruit is loaded with fiber, and contains healthy monounsaturated fats that make it easy to digest, even by toddlers.
Avocados also help maintain a healthy digestive tract and proper functioning of the pancreas, liver and gall bladder.
It also helps convert beta-carotene into vitamin A, which in turn helps in developing a healthy mucosal lining throughout the GI tract.
Also, the good amount of nutrients and high water content in avocados make it one of the best fruits for weight loss.
You’ll also want to be sure you get enough sleep and eat smaller meals versus larger meals.
Sleep improves your digestion by regulating hormones that affect the gut and smaller meals are easier on your system than larger meals are.
Aim to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night and have 3 meals a day to start.
When it comes to high-fat foods like chocolate, chips, butter, oil and nuts, avoid those for now since we’re giving your body a break.
Remember, clean and simple is a great way to improve your digestion in less than 48 hours, and you can do anything for two days!
These tips can be used anytime you have a flair with your digestive issues or want to weed out potential allergens in your diet.