We've all heard the saying "You are what you eat," but it's more accurate to say "You are what you absorb." Absorbing nutrients from the foods we eat is critical for obtaining the quantities of vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and fiber we need for optimal health. Good nutrient absorption starts with good digestion.
Bloating, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation are all signs of poor digestive function, which leads to reduced nutrient absorption. The result is often low energy, swings in blood sugar, and the urge to overeat.
Good digestion starts in the mouth. Eat slowly, and chew your food; each bite should be "soupy" before you swallow. A simple step you can take to improve digestion is to practice mindful eating. It can not only reduce stress but also calm an upset stomach. Mindfulness includes noticing the colors, smells, flavors, and textures of your food; chewing slowly; and eliminating distractions while you eat, like television and the computer.
According to Harvard Medical School, digestion involves a complex series of hormonal signals between the gut and the nervous system, and it takes around 20 minutes for the brain to register fullness. Eating too quickly causes us to overeat, and eating while we're distracted may slow or even stop digestion in a manner similar to the "fight or flight" response. And if we're not digesting well, we're missing out on the full nutritive value of the foods we eat.
In addition to practicing mindful eating, limit the amount of fluid you drink with meals to just a few ounces of water -- drinking too much may dilute digestive enzymes. Try drinking water and other beverages 30 minutes before meals and then wait two hours after a meal.
If you're still experiencing signs of poor digestion, consider supplementing with digestive enzymes. Enzymes are essential for breaking down the foods we eat, and they're necessary for circulating and absorbing nutrients. We need a good balance of enzymes for our digestive systems to function normally. Most people will benefit from a multi-enzyme formula, and a quality supplement will list the strength/potency of each enzyme. Be sure to take digestive enzymes with a meal.
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