Written by Carol Ebert, RN, BSN, MA, CHES, CWP
When your stomach speaks to you - LISTEN UP! Your gut is trying to tell you something. After recently returning from a "life-changing" and "stomach-changing" visit to the first accredited Functional Medicine Hospital and Holistic Healing Center in the world, I am compelled to share some takeaways that have made a significant difference in how I view and treat my digestive system. First - you need to know that about 80% of your immune system and ½ of your nerve cells and neurotransmitters involve your digestive system.
I had no idea that my gut is THE top priority when it comes to healing myself. And I can tell you that even I, as a role-model for wellness, have some things to do to repair some of my digestive shortcomings. Can we now give our gut some love and respect? Let's begin the process with some simple action steps you can implement right away. There is more to do of course, but this will get you on the right path.
- Drink lemon water first thing
Start your day with the juice of a half of a lemon in a cup of warm water with a dash of cayenne pepper. Lemon can stimulate elimination of yesterday's food, help destroy bad bacteria in the mouth and intestines and does many other great things. My grandfather used to start his day this way so it is an old-time remedy as well as used in Chinese medicine.
- Eat in happiness and calm
The process of digestion starts with your brain so when you sit down to eat, take three belly breaths in thru your nose and exhale slowly. This will engage your parasympathetic system that slows you down and disengages your sympathetic nervous system that speeds you up. Remember when the tradition was to say a prayer before you ate a meal? That is a practice that works in the same way.
Food starts digesting in your mouth as soon as you start chewing. There is a digestive enzyme in your saliva that starts to break down the food but you need to chew longer for that to happen. So chew 25-50 times per bite of food to prepare the food for its trip down to the stomach.
- Protect the acid in your stomach
Your stomach contains HCL (hydrochloric acid) which is ready and willing to break down the food even more so it can be absorbed by the body. HCL also kills bacteria, viruses and potential antigens from making you sick. Because of these two important roles, you don't want to dilute the acid and prevent it from doing its job. Therefore - don't drink water when you are eating.
- Drink water in between meals
Consume half your body weight in ounces "daily" in order to aid your digestion, replenish your system, prevent dehydration and detoxify your body. Add a pinch of natural sea salt to each 32 ounces of water.
So far so good? Can you start doing these things? Need more guidance? Let's talk! Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can create a digestive health strategy to help get your gut in tip-top shape!