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Prep Your Digestion for Big Meals: Simple Steps for Everyday Wellness

Are you gearing up for hearty feasts but wish to avoid that post meal slump? Fear not! Incorporating simple practices into your routine can significantly aid your digestion, ensuring you enjoy those delightful meals without discomfort. Let's explore four easy and effective methods to support your digestion and boost overall wellness, applicable not just for special occasions but for everyday vitality.




1. Apple Cider & Bitter Beginnings

Starting your day or meal with a shot of apple cider vinegar diluted in water sets a fantastic tone for digestion. The acidity of apple cider vinegar primes your system, aiding in the breakdown of food.


Apple cider vinegar has been researched extensively for its digestive benefits. Studies suggest its potential in promoting healthy blood sugar levels and aiding in weight management. Incorporating this into your routine not only aids digestion but may have broader health benefits as well.


Here's a simple way to consume it:

Mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a glass of water. It's generally suggested to drink it around 15-30 minutes before your meal.


Remember, it's essential to dilute apple cider vinegar with water as its acidity can be harsh on the teeth and throat when consumed directly.


While apple cider vinegar can assist with digestion for some people, there are instances when it's not advisable. Avoid consuming apple cider vinegar if you have a history of acid reflux, stomach ulcers, or gastrointestinal issues. Additionally, if you're taking medications like diuretics or insulin, it's best to consult a healthcare professional before using apple cider vinegar as it may interact with certain medications.


Bitter foods, such as certain types of salad greens like arugula, kale, or radicchio, can stimulate digestion. When consumed before or at the start of a meal, bitter foods can help prime the digestive system, preparing it for the intake of other foods by enhancing the secretion of digestive enzymes. This can contribute to better digestion overall, potentially reducing the chances of bloating or discomfort after eating.

 

2. Post Meal Strolls and Gentle Yoga

Walking after a meal can have several beneficial effects on digestion and overall health:

  • Aids Digestion: Physical activity, even a short walk, helps to stimulate the muscles in your abdomen. This movement can speed up the digestion process by encouraging food to move through your digestive system more efficiently.

  • Reduces Bloating: Walking after eating may reduce feelings of bloating or discomfort by preventing food from sitting in your stomach for too long. It can assist in preventing gas buildup and indigestion.

  • Regulates Blood Sugar: Taking a post meal walk can aid in managing blood sugar levels. Physical activity helps your body utilise glucose more effectively, potentially reducing blood sugar spikes after a meal.

  • Boosts Metabolism: While it won't drastically impact metabolism, regular post meal walks can contribute to a healthy metabolism over time.

  • Enhances Mood: Walking releases endorphins, which can positively affect your mood and reduce stress. This relaxed state may also aid in digestion, as stress can negatively impact the digestive process.


Incorporating a short walk after meals, especially heavier or larger meals, can be a simple and effective way to promote better digestion and overall wellness.


Yoga twists can be beneficial for digestion, but doing them immediately after a meal might not be ideal. After eating, blood flow tends to increase in your digestive system to aid in the digestion process. Strenuous physical activity, including deep twists, might divert blood away from the digestive organs, potentially interfering with digestion.


However, gentle yoga poses that involve twists and stretches could potentially aid digestion if done around an hour or so after a meal. These gentler postures can stimulate digestion by promoting movement and easing tension in the abdomen without disrupting the ongoing digestion process. Always listen to your body and adjust your yoga practice accordingly based on how you feel after eating.

 

3. The Art of Chewing

I am sure you have heard this before when you were a child: 'Chew your food properly!' In Barcelona, my mum was telling me: 'Do not eat like a duck!' (without chewing). I even used to choke while eating oranges! I know better now.

Chewing food properly is crucial for several reasons:

  • Digestion: The digestive process begins in the mouth. Chewing breaks down food into smaller particles, allowing digestive enzymes in saliva to start breaking down carbohydrates and some fats. This makes it easier for the stomach and intestines to further digest and absorb nutrients.

  • Nutrient Absorption: Properly chewed food provides better nutrient absorption. Smaller food particles have a larger surface area, allowing digestive enzymes to work more effectively, ensuring you get more nutrients from the food you eat.

  • Satiety: Chewing food thoroughly gives your brain time to register that you're eating, leading to better appetite regulation and a reduced tendency to overeat.

  • Prevention of Digestive Issues: Poorly chewed food can lead to digestive discomfort, including bloating, gas, and indigestion. Larger food particles can also be more challenging for your digestive system to break down, leading to potential digestive issues.

  • Supports Overall Health: Good chewing habits promote better digestion, which can positively impact overall health. It aids in maintaining a healthy gut, which is linked to various aspects of wellbeing, from immunity to mental health.

 

Taking the time to chew your food thoroughly allows for better digestion, nutrient absorption, and overall health benefits. Aim for about 20–30 chews per bite to ensure your food is properly broken down before swallowing.

 

4. Hydrate Mindfully

Hydration is essential, but timing matters. Consuming excessive water during meals can dilute essential digestive juices, hindering the breakdown of food. Opt for sipping water between meals to stay hydrated without impacting digestion. Being mindful of your water intake ensures optimal hydration levels without compromising digestion.


Here's why smart hydration matters:

  • Optimal Digestion: Digestive enzymes and stomach acids play a crucial role in breaking down food. When you consume too much water during meals, it can dilute these essential digestive juices, hindering their effectiveness. This dilution may compromise the breakdown of food, leading to less efficient digestion and potential discomfort.

  • Aid in Nutrient Absorption: Adequate hydration supports the absorption of nutrients from the food you eat. However, consuming excessive water during meals can impact this process, as it might interfere with the body's ability to extract essential nutrients from food.

  • Balanced Hydration: Sipping water between meals allows you to stay adequately hydrated without disrupting the digestive process. This practice ensures that you maintain hydration levels without impacting the concentration of digestive enzymes during mealtime.

  • Mindful Consumption: Being mindful of your water intake around meals enables you to focus on enjoying your food and eating mindfully. It encourages you to pay attention to your body's hunger and satiety signals without the potential distraction of excessive fluids during meals.

  • Prevent Discomfort: Avoiding large quantities of water during meals can reduce the likelihood of feeling bloated or overly full. It allows your digestive system to function optimally and may decrease the chances of experiencing discomfort such as indigestion or reflux.


Understanding the impact of water consumption on digestion helps in making informed

choices. By being conscious of when and how much you drink, you support your body's digestive processes and overall wellness.


In Conclusion

Incorporating these simple yet impactful practices into your routine can make a substantial difference in how you digest your meals. Whether it's a festive feast or an everyday meal, these steps pave the way for smoother digestion and enhanced overall wellness. By taking proactive steps towards supporting your digestion, you'll enjoy meals with greater comfort and vitality.

 

References

- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3119587/ Walking just after a meal seems to be more effective for weight loss than waiting for one hour to walk after a meal - Yasuyo Hijikata and Seika Yamada Published online 2011 Jun 9.


- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29684415/ The effect of mastication on food intake, satiety and body weight - James H Hollis - Published2018 Apr 21.


- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6356561/ Narrative Review of Hydration and Selected Health Outcomes in the General Population - DeAnn Liska, Eunice Mah, Tristin Brisbois,Pamela L. Barrios,2 Lindsay B. Baker, and Lawrence L. Spriet -  Published online 2019 Jan 1


- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34187442/ The effect of apple cider vinegar on lipid profiles and glycemic parameters: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials - Amir Hadi , Makan Pourmasoumi , Ameneh Najafgholizadeh, Cain C T Clark , Ahmad Esmaillzadeh – Published 2021 Jun 29 

 



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