Whether you are aware of it or not, your lifestyle, habits and dietary choices affect your gut health. While there is not a one size fits all solution that works for everyone, knowing your body and following our recommended best practices will help improve and regulate your gut’s health.
Indigestion can be triggered by several factors. Eleni Ottalagana, the Director of Dietetics at Skyterra Wellness explains the prevalence of digestive issues in recent years, “Many individuals have digestive issues, mainly because of our modern-day food supply (eating a diet high in refined carbs, high sugar diet, the wrong fats and not enough fiber), constant use of prescription medications and other stressors, like a job, always being on the go, relationships, the list is really endless.” With so many personal and professional pressures vying for your attention, digestive health may be the last thing on your mind. But, it’s an area that undoubtedly affects total body wellness.
Eleni sums up our digestive struggles for us, “Essentially, any sort of stress on the body can affect our digestive systems. Our gut is our second brain, whatever can cause us mental stress can lead to physical imbalances in the gut and turn into digestive issues.”
At Skyterra, Eleni helps guests develop a practice of eating with intent. Becoming aware of how your body responds to food is a part of this process. From this awareness, Eleni helps her clients commit to healthier habits and set goals for total body wellness. For indigestion concerns, Eleni suggests these best practices:
Identify Your Trigger Foods
Listen to your body’s warning signals! Do you have sluggish energy and an uncomfortable feeling in your gut after consuming dairy or refined sugar?
Due to the structure of the food’s protein in cow’s milk dairy, it can be inflammatory and encourage irregular disruption. Gluten can also disrupt digestion regulation as GMO directly alters the gut microbiome. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) are often found in most corn, soy, and vegetable oils. Limit grain consumption to non-gluten grains. Choosing to omit GMO altogether is an easy way to cut out the negative effects of gluten on your diet and health. A gluten-free, anti-inflammatory diet will have other benefits, too. Think lower cholesterol, calories, and sugar. Breaking the addiction to inflammatory foods can be difficult to kick, but trust us - your gut will thank you in the long run.
Incorporate Bitter Foods
If you’re not including them already, bitter foods are the secret power ingredients that your diet is missing. According to Eleni, bitter foods like arugula, dandelion greens, garlic, leeks, cold sweet potatoes, greener bananas, and sunchokes (just to name a few!) are essential to your daily diet. A few drops of bitters or apple cider vinegar in a glass of water at mealtime can also assist the body in the production of enzymes that aid in restoring your stomach’s acid levels. Restoring this balance is essential for the breakdown of food and nutrients.
Eating raw, leafy greens isn’t palatable for everyone at the start. For beginners, learning how to prepare your greens to your taste buds is essential. Try sautéing your greens for a richer taste and sprinkling in some Tumeric (another anti-inflammatory super food) for good measure! Eleni also suggests creating a mini- fast, “Create a mini fast- try going 12 hours between dinner and breakfast without eating anything to give your digestive system a rest. Then break-the-fast with a digestive friendly meal and beverage.”
Mindful Meal Times
Slow down, chew slowly and enjoy your meal times. Can’t get away from your desk for lunch? Mindful mealtimes still apply! As you eat, turn off all digital distractions, clear your desk, and face a window or empty wall. Creating a relaxed environment will help your body feel relaxed, too. Regulating your digestive system will not happen overnight - but implementing these simple, conscious tips into your daily routine will jumpstart your journey.
After meal time, avoid rigorous activity and exercise to give your body time to digest. Gentle stretches like yoga inspired twists can aid the digestive process. Try this stretch: when sitting on the floor, place your right leg over your left knee. Now, place your left elbow over your right knee and let your right hand fall on the floor behind your right shoulder. Let your gaze fall behind. Sink deeper into your twists by breathing deeply within long breaths inhaled through the nose and exhaled through the mouth. This will help relax your muscle, eliminate stress, and encourage proper digestion.