Eating right is about more than just, well, eating right.
You make all the right choices on your plate.
You eat whole foods, lots of vegetables and stay away from processed junk.
You add superfoods to your smoothie and eat the rainbow. You even spend a little extra when possible to keep your diet free of pesticides.
After all, you are what you eat, right?
It turns out that this old adage is only partly true. Even if you’re eating all the right foods, without proper digestion and absorption, it might be going to waste. Putting the right stuff in is the first step, but we then need to be able to break it down and use it.
Feeling bloated or tired after you eat and experiencing uncomfortable gas are some of the key symptoms letting you know that you might not be getting all the nutrients you need in your food. However, with our fast pace of life and the stress most of experience in the day-to-day, it’s a fair bet that all of us could benefit from a better working digestive system.
Fortunately, optimizing your digestion is a few simple habits away:
1. Don’t drink with your meals
Liquid dilutes stomach acid, making it harder to digest proteins in foods. It’s best to wait an hour before and after meals to consume liquids. If you find that you are very thirsty while eating, decrease the salt in your dishes, add more water-rich fruits and vegetables and chew, chew, chew!
2. Simplify with a B complex
Many of the B vitamins play a key role in our ability to metabolize and use carbohydrates. Adding a B complex to your day is an easy way to ensure you are getting enough of these essential nutrients.
3. Be buddies with your bacteria
Our large intestine is filled with friendly flora that help us digest food, absorb certain vitamins and minerals, fight foreign invaders and more. Seriously, these bacteria may be small, but they’re a pretty big deal. Feed these little guys with prebiotic-rich fermented foods, such as miso, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha.
4. Build an army
Sometimes we need a little help. Keep your gut-friendly bacteria going strong with probiotics. This is especially important when taking antibiotics, which destroy much of our intestinal microflora.
5. Stay hydrated
Drinking plenty of fluids (between meals, of course) is essential to support our bodies in circulating nutrients and pulling our toxins. Add a little lemon to your water for a zesty taste and an extra boost for your liver.
Add these five steps to your life and you’ll start getting more from your food, and feel great every time you eat.
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Editor: Emily Bartran