The digestive process is foundational to optimal health and weight loss, but is often neglected or overlooked altogether. Without healthy digestion, you can’t properly absorb nutrients from your food or supplements, wastes accumulate in your body (some people have upwards of 15 pounds of waste trapped in their digestive systems), you become more and more tired and lethargic, weight gain increases, you get ill more often, and risk for nearly every degenerative disease goes up.
The good news is that taking care of your digestive well-being for optimal health (and weight loss!) is easier than you think. Before we show you how, let’s take a quick look at what our digestive system does for us.
You can think of your digestive system almost like a (complex, intricately designed and highly functioning) tube. Stuff goes in one end, is processed through, and comes out the other. We want our digestive system to:
In a perfect world, this process would flow smoothly and effectively without much thought. Unfortunately, however, the modern lifestyle is not conducive to healthy digestion. Elements of this lifestyle from stress, to lack of exercise—or even lack of enough simple movement throughout the day—to over the counter and prescription drugs, processed foods, toxins in the environment, and low (or inappropriate) water intake have all taken a toll on our digestive system. In fact, more than 95 million Americans report having digestive issues of some sort.
Fortunately, there are simple steps, easily incorporated into your active lifestyle, that can immediately begin to transform your digestive health.
1. Release stress. Ever wonder why you get ‘butterflies in your stomach’ when you are nervous? This is because the brain and the gut are strongly connected. This connection is why stress has such a huge impact on your digestive health. Simple activities like deep breathing, prayer, meditation and yoga can have a tremendous positive effect on your stress level. Incorporating these into your life can be as simple as setting aside a few minutes in the morning or at regular intervals throughout your day to pray, meditate, stretch or breathe. For example, at the top of every hour, take two minutes to say a prayer and do a deep breathing exercise.
2. Move your body. When you are sedentary, everything in your body stops moving. And the longer wastes sit in your digestive tract, the more toxins are reabsorbed into the body and the more damaged the digestive system becomes. Regular movement helps you stay, well, regular. Exercising and moving whenever possible impacts all areas of your health, including your digestive system.
3. Eat real foods. One of the very best things you can do for your health is eliminate ALL foods that have artificial anything in them. Many artificial ingredients are composed of chemicals that are known to be harmful to the body and there is absolutely no reason to have them in the diet. Also, choose to reduce processed and sugary foods in your diet. Not only can these foods coat your intestinal walls and block nutrient absorption, but they also actually weaken your digestive tract. You were designed to digest real foods—nutrient dense and unprocessed—which keep your digestive system working exactly as it was designed.
4. Provide additional support for your digestive system. In today’s world our digestive systems really take a beating, but there are many things you can do to support the digestive process. Digestive enzymes help your system break down foods so that your body can more effectively absorb the nutrients. The right types of fiber can help to absorb wastes and remove them from your body, resulting in many, some seemingly unrelated, health benefits. Another way to support your digestive system is to maintain a solid balance of healthy bacteria. This is not only great for your digestive system, but up to 80% of your immune system is found within your digestive tract and these bacteria play a major role in keeping you well. Finally, supporting healthy detox and maximum liver function is crucial for optimal health and a hale and hearty digestive system.
You can affect all areas of your health by choosing today to protect your digestive health.