This may not be a sexy topic however, most people have had issues with indigestion, constipation, and bloating from time to time. Whether you are eating clean and healthy or consuming whatever you want, your gut can get upset with you. Finding out which foods agree with you and which ones cause you problems is something I recommend taking the time to do. Knowing which remedies to use when you anticipate digestion problems and after they occur is excellent information for everyone to have.
1 Avoid Food Allergies
Have you noticed a correlation between certain foods and your digestion symptoms? Eliminating foods, one at a time, can help you discover which ones are causing you problems. Some people take a more extreme approach and bring their diet down to approximately 10 items only for a week to see how they feel. They then slowly add foods back in, one at a time to give their body a chance to show their approval.
Sometimes we know which foods bother us but don’t want to admit it. When we regularly eat foods we are allergic to or intolerant to, our bodies create inflammation. This inflammation can lead to arthritis pain, diarrhea, bloating, abdominal cramps, and headaches.
Common food intolerances
Soy (tofu, soymilk, soy sauce)
Sulfites (tea, wine, beer, baked goods, and dried fruit)
Fructose (high-fructose corn syrup, agave, apples, honey, soda)
Additives that cause inflammatory responses when added to food and beverages
2 Don’t Drink Liquid with Meals
It is best practice to consume liquids up to ten minutes before mealtimes and to wait an hour after meals. However, research has not given us conclusive evidence of this fact. The jury is still out on this hot topic. The theory is that when we drink with meals, liquids can wash away our naturally-occurring digestive enzymes. When you smell food cooking, your digestive system starts to create digestive juices that are ready to break down your food. While we are eating, if we flood our bodies with water, alcohol, tea, and juice, we disrupt our body’s natural ability to process the food we eat. This can lead to bloating, heartburn, and stomach cramps. If you do not notice these symptoms, then continue to drink and eat with abandon.
Most of us are in the habit of gulping down drinks while we eat and talk and laugh. If you notice ill-effects from this eating and drinking combination, give it a rest for a week. See how you feel and notice improvements. You may not always want to follow this advice but knowing what causes our symptoms can help us during times when it’s important to feel our best (think first date, a wedding, or an important lunch meeting.) You can get used to this and your belly will thank you.
3 Drink Tea after Meals
Hot tea after meals is soothing to your digestive system. Ginger, comfrey, fennel, and mint are excellent teas to have when you are wanting some extra support for your belly. Sipping tea slowly on the couch or sitting outside can be a lovely ritual after dinner. Know Your Gut, Trust Your Gut contains soothing herbs and flowers that will rebalance your digestive tract. Prepare this tea while cooking dinner and let it steep for about an hour to gain the most medicinal qualities. From the moment you open your bag, the delightful scent will draw you in. I add local honey to my tea and drink it hot. However, my daughter enjoys this cold between meals on hot days. Order Know Your Gut, Trust Your Gut on Amazon.
4 Eat Fermented Foods
Fermented foods contain probiotics, which are essentially beneficial bacteria, found in your gut. Fermented foods are well known to improve digestion, boost immunity, and help with weight loss.
Kombucha– bubbly, fermented tea made from black, green, or white tea
Kimchi- a popular Korean side dish made from fermented cabbage or other veggies
Sauerkraut- another side made from cabbage, which is full of lactic acid bacteria
Yogurt- creamy delicious cultured dairy
Kefir- this is a grain that is made up of yeast and bacteria and added to milk
Tempeh- fermented soybeans, high in protein, made into a meat substitute
Miso – fermented soybeans which are salted and koji is added to make a broth
5 Add Digestive Enzymes
As a Licensed Midwife, I frequently discussed digestion with my clients. Indigestion is a common complaint of pregnant women and I wanted to help. There are several types of digestive enzymes on the market for you to try. However, let’s first discuss helpful foods.
Foods that are helpful for digestion:
Dried and fresh papaya
Ginger- candied ginger and ginger tea
Digestive enzyme blends containing amylase, papain, and lipase
6 Reduce Stress
Doesn’t reducing stress help with all bodily functions? Yes. Yes, it does. When we are stressed, especially while we are eating, our stomach muscles may be engaged as we hold our bodies in a stiff posture. Having stressful discussions while eating will undoubtedly cause excessive gas build-up and abdominal pains. Watching the news or a scary movie while eating, can cause digestive upset. Even laughing while eating can cause stomach cramping and extra gas. Creating a peaceful environment during mealtimes will help your body do the job it’s meant to do. You will enjoy your food in a whole new way when you set limits to mealtime discussions and enjoy the people you are sharing food with.
Know Your Gut, Trust Your Gut is a digestive tea blend created by Master Herbalist, Jennifer Vollbrecht of You, Me, and Uni. This blend contains comfrey, dandelion, cornflower petals, and red clover. Each 3 oz bag costs $18. Read for more information on the healing effects of dandelion on digestion.
Anastacia Elizabeth Walden
Writer and Editor in Gainesville, FL
Owner of Walden Writes For Women