Daily Habits for Optimal Digestion
We all want optimal digestion. The fact that we have to even think about it is kind of a nuisance right? Worrying about bloat, going to the bathroom (or not being able to go to the bathroom), stomach pain, and so forth isn’t fun, but unfortunately has become a part of life for many. As a Holistic Nutritionist, I believe a healthy digestive system is the key to avoiding illness and improving one’s quality of life. Here are my favorite gut-friendly tools that can be implemented into your daily routine to help improve digestion:
Collagen powder – The amino acids found in collagen powder can help increase stomach acid, which in turns helps you to digest your food better. Additionally, this powder is great for healing and sealing the gut lining which helps to prevent (or heal) leaky gut syndrome and food allergies, both which can contribute to digestive problems. As an added bonus, collagen is also great for your skin health! When shopping for a collagen powder, look for one that is pasture raised + grass-fed. I love the one from Vital Proteins. The powder is tasteless, so it can be added to everything from your daily smoothie, oats, chia seed pudding, morning tea, and more.
Ghee (or clarified butter) – Unlike your typical butter, ghee doesn’t have lactose or casein in it, and actually stimulates your digestive system helping it to break down your food. Ghee is rich in butyric acid, a short chain fatty acid that nourishes the cells in your intestines and improves colon health. It also helps to balance your gut microbiome and eliminates toxins, helping to detox your body. Ghee has a high smoke point, so it can be used to cook eggs or vegetables, and gives your meals a nice, rich flavor. I love the Fourth and Heart California Garlic Ghee which is made from grass-fed cows.
Probiotic rich foods – Things like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir are all rich in probiotics, which help to feed your good gut bacteria, and in turn, keep your gut healthy. Probiotics help you to break down foods and can reduce inflammation, all contributing to a healthier, and happier gut. Try adding ¼ cup of sauerkraut into your daily routine- You can add it on top of your avocado toast, and in your salads. It adds great flavor! My favorite is the Lil’ Kim Chee flavor from Pickled Planet.
Flaxseeds – These super-seeds are a great source of soluble fiber and omega 3 fatty acids, both which are great for supporting healthy digestion. Soluble fiber found in other foods like apples, citrus, carrots, and oats helps clean your digestive tract and supports regular elimination. While omega 3 fatty acids help combat inflammation in the body, which can contribute to bloat and other digestive problems. Other foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids include wild salmon, walnuts, and chia seeds. When buying flaxseeds, make sure they are ground, and add 1-2 tbsp. to your smoothies and oats.
Bone broth – The gelatin found in this tasty and versatile broth restores your gut lining, which can be damaged from a diet high in sugar, dairy, and gluten. It soothes the gut, and also helps create good bacteria in it, and can decrease inflammation in the digestive tract. Additionally, it comes with a variety of minerals that are great for immune health. Have 1 cup daily as an afternoon snack or use it as a base for homemade soup. You can make your own bone broth at home or try one from the store, I love the Bonafide Provisions Beef Bone broth and usually add avocado and nutritional yeast to it.
Pineapple – Aside from being rich in fiber, which we already know helps digestion, this tropical fruit provides the unique digestive enzyme, bromelain. Bromelain helps to break down and absorb proteins from your food, giving your digestive system a break and helping to prevent allergies and inflammation from undigested protein. Add 1/4-1/2 cup of organic pineapple to your favorite morning green smoothie. I love making one with coconut milk, cucumber, spinach, collagen, lime, and ginger.
Mindful eating – When we eat in a hurry, while multitasking, or without chewing our food thoroughly we can create major digestive issues within our bodies. Allow yourself 20-30 minutes to sit down and enjoy your food without the TV, phone, or other distractions. Take some deep breaths, and give gratitude for your food before enjoying your meal. This will allow your body time to be in a relaxed state (known as parasympathetic mode), which improves your body’s ability to digest food. Eat slow and allow yourself time to chew (minimum of 20 bites) and savor each bite. This will help to activate digestive enzymes in your mouth and start the digestive process, letting your food be broken down properly and the nutrients to be adequately absorbed.
Try adding 1-2 of your favorites from this list into your daily routine to nurture your gut and improve digestion, and adding on from there. These are all simple ways to support digestion, decrease inflammation, and help to create a healthier gut microbiome, and therefore, a healthier YOU.
Britt Martin is the founder of Fitbrittnutrition, a Holistic Nutrition Consulting company based in LA. She is a Holistic Nutritionist and Certified Yoga Teacher who is passionate about teaching her clients and community how to nourish their bodies and live more holistic lifestyles. She considers herself a health-foodie who aside from holistic nutrition and yoga, loves hiking, cooking, her dog-child Logan, and traveling as much as possible. Follow her on Instagram: @fitbrittnutrition