A sluggish digestive system can leave you feeling lethargic, bloated, in discomfort and generally lack luster. Rekindling your digestive juices can get your digestive flame burning with full force again – improving your energy, outlook and getting you back on that dance floor in full swing.
1. Zesty Times. Sour foods help to stimulate the production of gastric acid in the stomach. This gives your digestive system a gentle jump start and prepares it for the food that you will start your day off with. Squeeze 1/2 lemon into 250mLs of hot or tepid water and drink 1/2 hour before breakfast daily to help stimulate the production of digestive juices. You can also zest things up at dinner time with the beautiful spice sumac, a Middle Eastern spice used in the spice blend zatar. It has wonderful digestive properties and tastes delicious.
2. Feisty Fennel. In India, fennel seeds are often served as a post-meal digestif and breath freshener. When you crush them between your teeth, these anise-flavored seeds release a compound called terpenoid anethole that may increase gut motility and inhibit gastrointestinal spasms. The theory is that the seeds act as anti-spasmodics, relieving gas, cramps, bloating and stomach upset. Buy fennel seeds from the spice section of your grocer, roast briefly or just sprinkle on your dishes raw.
3. Heat It UP. The main active constituent of chillis, capsaicin, has been shown to aid in the human body’s process of digestion by stimulating gastric juices and increasing blood flow to the stomach mucosal lining. It also helps to improve your metabolism… So do not fear spicing things up a little with cayenne pepper in your food or try your own sweet chilli sauce by blending 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar), 1/2 teaspoon stevia powder, 1/4 cup water, 1 clove of garlic, 1/2 to 1 tablespoon dried crushed chilli (1 tablespoon makes a VERY HOT sauce), pinch of Himalayan salt and 1 tablespoon guar gum or corn starch (dissolved in 3 tablespoons cool water). Pop all ingredients into a saucepan, simmer for ten minutes until reduced by half, add the corn starch/guar gum and simmer for another two minutes. Store in the fridge. AVOID Chilli if you suffer from ulcers or gastro-esophageal reflux disease.
4. Gorgeous Ginger. Ginger already has a strong reputation for being able to reduce nausea. It also relaxes the digestive tract, allowing food to pass through comfortably without getting caught up. For full potency, make a tea from an inch of raw ginger root boiled in 300 mLs of water for 30 minutes (try it with a pinch of stevia or honey).
5. Pick at Pickles. For a dairy-free digestive aid, try pickles or fermented veggies such as sauerkraut. Like yogurt, they are loaded with probiotics that displace bad bacteria in the gut, so they, too, can help ease bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation and other digestive issues. Start by incorporating just a tablespoon of fermented veggies daily or an organic miso soup before meals and build to 1/4 cup over a month. Remember to start slowly with these if they are new to your diet.
6. Try the Waltz. We often eat while talking, driving, or not being fully conscious of what we are putting in our mouths. In those moments, much of our food is swallowed before it has been completely macerated by our teeth. If we rush this step the digestive process is compromised from the start, since the enzymes in our saliva help break down carbohydrates. Try to chew your food at least 15 to 20 times per mouthful so that it is a smooth paste before you swallow it.
7. A Helping Hand. For those really struggling with poor digestive health, this one is for you. Most people with digestive/gut issues have insufficient stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) to break down foods, and most of us do not eat enough live enzymes through raw or fermented/cultured foods to help that process along. Taking hydrochloric acid or digestive enzyme may provide your stomach with a helping hand to at least begin the process of breaking down the foods that you eat. Please ask me about how best to incorporate these supplements into your diet.