Were you hoping I meant you should drink more alcohol to improve digestion issues? If only! Alas, no, that is not what I meant. Several natural remedies are helpful for stomach upsets and to improve digestion. However, it can be hard to troubleshoot where your symptoms are coming from. If you are at a loss, I recommend talking with a Master Herbalist (Master Herbalist, Jennifer Vollbrecht), a Licensed Acupuncturist, or a Naturopathic Physician for a thorough workup to determine suitable remedies for you. If you want to try a few natural remedies first, let your intuition guide you.
First, let’s talk about when not to drink
It is best practice to consume liquids up to ten minutes before mealtimes and 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 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 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.
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 want 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.
Hot Lemon Water
Drinking hot lemon water first thing in the morning is supposed to boost your metabolism, improve digestion, and increase energy levels. Some sources claim it has to be hot to have the full effects. However, if you prefer it at room temperature or cold, experiment with that. Some suggest drinking cold water with lemon helps weight loss because the body has to work harder to process it. Ayurvedic medicine recommends hot and room temperature drinks to mimic the body’s temperature, giving the digestive system a break.
Lemon juice has a lot of benefits, including:
- It is high in vitamin c, which is an antioxidant and flavonoid.
- Flavonoids from citrus fruits can reduce inflammation in the body.
- Helpful in the treatment of kidney stones.
- It is low in calories and sugar, with a surprisingly sweet taste, despite lemon juice’s puckering power.
“Antioxidants are compounds that help protect the body’s cells from damage. By reducing cell damage, antioxidants reduce the risk of many health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer.” Medical News Today
Directions for making lemon water
- Consume first thing in the morning, before eating.
- Fill a glass or mug of boiling, room temperature, or cold water.
- Add the juice of ½ lemon
Apple Cider Vinegar in water
ACV is well known for its health benefits for many various ailments.
- Improving digestion
- Reducing cholesterol
- Improves the symptoms of diabetes
- Full of antioxidants
- Helps with weight loss
- Helpful for skin conditions such as eczema
How to drink ACV in water
Add 1-2 teaspoons to a tall glass of water. Start with a small amount first to see how you tolerate it. Some add 1-2 tablespoons, but I find this intolerable. Drink before or after meals to help with digestion and to provide relief from stomach upset.
Organic, unfiltered ACV is the purest and healthy option on the market. I recommend Bragg’s apple cider vinegar with the mother. Keep it refrigerated after you open it and shake well before each use.
For more information on digestion health, read 6 Ways to Improve digestion: tips on food allergies, herbs, and teas that are beneficial. 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. For more information on the healing effects of dandelion on digestion, read this article from You, Me, and Uni.
Anastacia Elizabeth Walden is a writer, editor, and owner of Walden Writes For Women.