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LEARN: Smooth Moves: 10 Tips for Good Digestion

Research is showing that good digestion can be the pathway to good health. If things are moving along with ease downstairs, it’s likely that you will feel well, and more—you’ll actually be well.

But, what gets things moving well for one person, may not work for someone else. We are all individuals, which means we each have our own unique nutritional needs. There is no “one size fits all” food plan; however, science shows that a balanced diet, rich in whole foods supports good health. Uncovering the foods that work for you may take some trial and error, but it’s important to determine which foods make you feel energized and nourished, and which give you indigestion or make you feel sluggish.

  • Tip 1: Hydrate
  • Many digestive woes begin with dehydration. If your body isn’t hydrated, it will absorb the water from you’re your food, making your stools (poop) hard and difficult to pass. Start your day off right by drinking water as soon as you wake up each morning. Throughout your day, be sure to drink eight glasses of water. And, if you add some exercise to your day (of course you do!), make it 10!

  • Tip 2: Sleep Well
  • By keeping a regular sleep routine, your body gets the time it needs to process what you ate during the day so you can eliminate it the next day. When your sleep schedule varies and you don’t get eight hours of quality sleep, you may experience irregular bowel movements because your body is out of its natural rhythm.

  • Tip 3: Eat at the same times each day
  • Eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner within the same hour each day, if possible. When you keep a consistent schedule, your body eases into a natural rhythm with your food and knows when to digest and when to rest.

  • Tip 4: Portion properly
  • Your stomach is not a bottomless pit. It has its limits. Eating too much in one sitting can cause gas, bloating, and indigestion. A typical meal should consist of the following portions:

    • - Two handfuls of vegetables
    • - One handful of whole grains
    • - One portion of quality, lean meat the size of your palm
    • - One serving of healthy fat the size of your index finger
  • Tip 5: Eat raw food daily
  • Make a green smoothie, choose fruit as a snack, order a side salad to go with your meal, or cut up veggies for a snack on the go. Raw foods have digestive enzymes that support food breakdown and healthy bowel movements.

  • Tip 6: Eat “wet” foods with dry foods
  • Dry foods like crackers, chips, breads, and grain are challenging for the body to digest on their own. Adding a food that is “wet” to the touch will allow the food to move through your digestive tract with more ease. Think of it as adding a little lubrication to get that food moving smoothly through your system. “Wet” food and “dry” food pairings include fresh salsa with tortilla chips, steamed veggies with meat, and chopped greens with your grains.

  • Tip 7: Ensure you have healthy fats in your diet
  • Eating healthy fats like avocado, coconut or olive oil, and fish and nuts with omega-3 fatty acids keeps inflammation low in the body and acts as a lubricant along your digestive tract, helping your body absorb nutrients.

  • Tip 8: Reduce processed foods, refined sugar, and excessive caffeine
  • All of these items cause inflammation in the body and are linked to digestive stress, which causes bloating, gas, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome.

  • Tip 9: Add probiotics
  • Consuming these beneficial microorganisms on a daily basis can keep the bacteria in your gut balanced, letting the “good” bacteria keep the “bad” in check, and treat gastrointestinal issues. Choose a product with at least eight strains of probiotics that requires refrigeration for the best quality.

  • Tip 10: Sweat everyday
  • Regular exercise like walking, running, or yoga will help support your digestive system. Aerobic exercise, or activities that cause you to break a sweat, will stimulate the contraction of your intestinal muscles, which helps to move food waste through your digestive system.