Thinking about changing your eating to promote good gut health, but you’re not quite ready to go all-in with a complete diet overhaul? That’s okay; you will make those deeper changes when you are ready. In the meantime, there are three easy and healthy habits you can adopt to promote good digestion.
Hydration does two things when it comes to supporting good digestion: it helps food move through the digestive tract and promotes healthy elimination.
It’s important to understand that digestion begins in the mouth, continues through the esophagus into the stomach, and on to the small intestine. Sipping water between bites lubricates food, making it easier to liquefy in the stomach (which also promotes absorption of nutrients) and pass to the small intestine.
The second benefit of hydrating is at the opposite end: healthy bowel movements. Drinking enough fluids maintain muscle integrity in the large intestine (keeps muscles smooth and flexible) and helps retain moisture in the stool so it passes out of the body easily.
Think of water as your essential nutrient and waste transport agent.
Chew your food.
As I pointed out above, digestion starts in the mouth; with the saliva to be exact.
Saliva contains enzymes that kick-off the digestive process by breaking down the food we eat. Chewing increases surface area of food, which means better exposure to these digestive enzymes. Another benefit? Thorough chewing of food promises better nutrient absorption later in the digestive process.
Take a stroll.
Have you ever heard taking a walk after a meal improves digestion? It’s true.
Moving after a meal, like walking around your neighborhood, speeds the rate at which food passes through the stomach. This is because a little exercise encourages contraction of the digestive system’s smooth muscles, the action required to move food along the process. In simple terms, it helps prevent food from idling, or sitting, too long in any part of the digestive tract.