Too many people suffer needlessly from digestive issues when there is often a simple, and amazingly enough, natural solution to their problems. Most often something is lacking in the diet that can be added either by changing the foods we eat, the combination in which we eat certain foods, and/or with natural supplements available in health food stores as well as from online distributors. Unfortunately, we tend to look for pharmaceutical treatments when questioning how to help digestion which can exacerbate the situation with chemical toxicity. If you are feeling bloated, sluggish and prone to irregularity, try these 10 natural remedies to improve digestion.
1) High Fiber Foods – This should be the very first step you take if you are trying to improve digestion. Fiber not only aids in digestion, but it also helps to lower serum cholesterol in the body which is a great preventative against cardiovascular diseases. Any of the whole grains such as oats, barley, flax, whole wheat and brown rice are amazing sources of fiber. Also, fresh vegetables, fruits and beans are loaded with fiber.
2) Digestive Enzymes – But this brings us to another problem and that is beans can also cause gas in some people which interferes with digestion. Instead of resorting to those OTC digestive enzymes such as Beano, try adding fresh papaya and pineapple to your diet! Both contain natural digestive enzymes that break down the sugars in beans that cause the problem. These fruits taste great, add additional fiber as well as vitamins and minerals you won’t get in Beano!
3) Aloe Vera – If you had to pick one natural ingredient to keep on your shelf, Aloe Vera would be the item to choose. This is one plant that you can eat, drink and use in topical solutions with equal safety and efficacy. Aloe soothes inflammation in the digestive tract, coats the inflamed lining of the intestines and helps foods move safely through for elimination. It is antimicrobial and is effective in treating a great number of intestinal problems that hinder proper digestion.
4) Herbs & Spices – So many people eliminate spicy foods because they erroneously believe that herbs and spices cause digestive issues. While it is true that cayenne pepper may burn during elimination, it also helps digestion by speeding up metabolism. Garlic is also one of nature’s wonder foods in that it is a natural antimicrobial and also has the ability to stimulate the lymphatic system which helps rid the body of toxins that interfere with the digestive process.
5) Food Combining – Once again we are back to pineapple! It is well known that red meats are among the foods hardest to digest and many people experience a great deal of discomfort after eating a meal high in proteins derived from beef. Pineapple has an enzyme, bromelain, that breaks down protein quite quickly which aids in digestion and eliminates much of that distress you feel. Eat fresh pineapple with beef and you will find that you don’t suffer from that bloated, sluggish feeling you usually are subjected to.
6) Probiotics – We are told that dairy causes digestive problems and to avoid dairy if we are lactose intolerant or have a history of digestive issues when eating cheese or drinking milk. There is another solution to adding probiotics to your diet without eating yogurt or drinking milk with acidophilus that is naturally rich in probiotic cultures. There are a great number of probiotic supplements on the market that provide this wonderful source of friendly bacteria that aid digestion. In fact, anyone suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, IBS, would benefit from supplementing daily with probiotics.
7) Antioxidants – There is a lot of press given in recent years to antioxidants in terms of their ability to fight the signs of premature aging by fighting free radicals that prevent the skin from producing collagen and elastin. Antioxidants, however, also flush free radicals from the digestive tract before they can attach to the mucous lining causing untold problems in the digestive tract, among which are certain cancers and IBS. Antioxidants can be obtained from any of the bright red, purple and orange fruits as well as in dark leafy vegetables. If your diet lacks those foods, there are a number of good organic supplements on the market as an alternative.
8) Green Tea – One of the most popular beverages at the moment is green tea for its amazing antioxidant properties. However, green tea also stimulates digestion and is a natural diuretic that has the ability to hydrate the body while helping to flush pathogenic toxins from the system. Green tea also gently promotes peristalsis (intestinal muscle contractions) that helps move foods through the system. On a side note, it is better to drink warm green tea because cold beverages hinder the digestive process.
9) Exercise – The worst thing you can do after eating is to sit there feeling bloated. Sure, you may feel as if you can’t move a muscle and that a quick nap would do you well, but don’t do it! Get up and move around a little. Take a walk around the block! You don’t have to subject yourself to aerobics, but any activity will stimulate the muscles in your abdominal area which will aid digestion. This also goes for eating out as well! Instead of going directly back to your vehicle, do a little window shopping or stop at the park on your way home. All it takes is a slow walk for ten or fifteen minutes to get those abdominal muscles working.
10) Abdominal Massage & Relaxation – And finally, relax! Stress is terribly hard on digestion because your body is tense which prevents peristalsis, those abdominal contractions mentioned earlier. We live in a fast paced society where we are often forced to ‘eat on the run.’ This is a major contributor to digestive complaints. Slow down and enjoy your meal. Take a few moments to massage your stomach which not only helps you relax, but also promotes peristalsis naturally.
If you are having problems with digestion the worst thing you can do is take a laxative or stool softener. Quite often those products are formulated with chemicals that can cause even greater problems such as dependence on them for regularity. Try these natural ways to improve digestion and you will be amazed at how quickly you experience relief.