Through centuries, man has relied on his gut to make decisions. How many times have you, for instance, had a gut-wrenching experience or felt butterflies in your stomach? This connection between mind and gut is borne out by cutting-edge neuroscience. The human gut – dubbed the second brain – is home to more than a 100 million nerve cells, more than even the spinal cord. What does this mean? You may feel contented, irritable or downright queasy – depending on what’s going on in your gut.
The ancient practice of Ayurveda, states that our health and wellbeing depends on our ability to digest the food we eat. However, the reality is that more than 70 million people suffer from digestive issues such as gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. To relieve these symptoms, most people turn to proton pump inhibitors (PPI) such as Nexuim or Omeprazole. The result: the body loses its natural ability to produce stomach acid due to the frequent introduction of foreign substances, further worsening the condition. More importantly, medications such as PPI address the symptom rather than the root cause of the digestive issue. This is where Ayurvedic practices come in. They enable you to focus on simple lifestyle and dietary changes, bolstering your digestive strength.
Here are five natural ways to improve metabolism of food and minimize gastro intestinal discomfort.
#1 Cut out processed foods:
If a major part of your diet consists of processed foods, then the chances are your body is breaking down these foods into toxic molecules. Consuming fast food often also triggers the release of antibodies, irreparably damaging your cells.
It’s time to change what’s on your plate. Avoid foods such as unfermented soy, canned vegetables and fruits, savory snacks, breads and microwave ready meals. Instead, include highly nutritious home cooked food that is rich in vitamin B-12, fibers and magnesium. These minerals and vitamins relax your intestinal muscles, improving digestion. Some other things you can do: sip ginger tea to relives symptoms of gas and take regular doses of traditional Ayurvedic remedy Tripahala to help regulate your bowel movement.
#2 Meditate regularly:
Studies show that regular meditation brings about genetic changes that restore the digestive system. Meditating 20-30 minutes every day promotes a deep level of relaxation, and improves blood oxygen levels and circulation. This enhances digestion as well as reduces stress – which otherwise can adversely affect your gut, leading to inflammation, food allergies, acid reflux and ulcers. Meditation also promotes mindful eating. It lets you appreciate the color and texture of your food and allows you to fully engage in the eating process.
#3 Include probiotics:
Probiotics such as yogurt, kimchi, black garlic, miso, nato and kafir aids gut health by boosting good bacteria. They not only help enhance the ratio of good microorganisms in your gut but also create a more acidic condition in your small intestine. This, in turn, enhances digestion.
#4 Let go of negative emotions:
A growing body of research shows that stress contributes to functional gastrointestinal disorder. The reason: the close relationship between the gut and brain. Stress modifies nerve functions between the stomach and the esophagus, leading to heartburn. Get rid of negative emotions by exercising daily – include breathing exercises, yoga and biofeedback in your regimen.
#Eat light at night:
The earlier you eat your dinner, the better it is for your digestive system. Ensure at least a 2-3 hour gap between your dinner and bed time. It is also important to avoid high-fat and high-sugar foods as your body secretes low amounts of digestive juices in the evening and its ability to digest heavy meals diminishes. Eat foods that are rich in carbs, fiber and protein to reduce gastric issues and get a good night’s sleep.
Everyday we are presented with a myriad of tempting food choices that can cause us to go off-track with our eating habits. Following a regular eating schedule, eating less but right, and drinking plenty of fluids can restore your digestive system – helping you cut back on medication, and in some cases, even avoid it entirely.