Warming up to better digestion
It became less and less of a surprise to me as I started to make the links: we get very little, if any, digestive health education (things like "Don't talk with your mouth full" and "Don't shovel in your food" are taught under the guise of good table manners). Most of us eat far too much sugar (which encourages the "bad" bacteria in our guts to reign, killing off the "good guys", read, probiotics). And many of us have addictive relationships with food, associating it with comfort, and trying to nourish our emotional and/or spiritual selves more often than our physical parts.
The problem is, the more we tax our digestive systems:
* the harder it is to absorb the beneficial nutrients from the food we eat.
* the harder it is to balance our weight.
* the more compromised our immune systems become. (They say that 70% of your immune system is in your gut.)
* the worse we smell (bad breath, strong body odour, stinkier farts)
* the worse we feel.
Today, I just have 3 simple tips to get you going on the path to improved digestion. They're especially pertinent now that we're in the colder part of the year.
1. Resist eating anything that's cold. This applies to iced drinks, ice creem, yogurt, cold milk on cold cereal, and cold leftovers straight from the fridge.
Cold things cool down your digestive system, forcing your body to warm them up before they can be broken down, which means that undigested food sits heavily in your digestive tract longer than it ought to.
2. Enjoy "digestive spices" such as turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, fennel, ginger, cloves, liquorice and black pepper. Make teas (like Turmeric Ginger Tea on page 111 of Get It Ripe, Easy Tea on page 110, or either of the Rooibos Chais on page 244). If you are going to eat something cold (yogurt, cereal with milk, ice creem), certainly sprinkle on one or more of these spices to help balance things out. When heating up oil for any dish (soups, stews, stir-fries, etc), add a pinch of turmeric (sure everything will look a little yellower, but the taste will be pretty negligible).
3. Relax with a hot water bottle on your abdomen after meals or whenever you feel gassy and crampy. What a cheap and easy way to improve your health! (I've knit the "cozy" pictured here at least 3 times now.) If post-meal discomfort is chronic for you, prepare the hot water bottle before meals, and enjoy it afterward, hanging out on the couch (best if you sit upright, or in a semi-reclined position to allow gravity to help out too), breathing deeply, manifesting self-loving thoughts (am I getting a little too "Dr. Feel Good" for you here? Just wait for what I'm about to say!).
The better you feel physically, the more positively you'll feel emotionally. The more positively you'll feel emotionally, the lighter you'll feel spiritually - it's such a super cycle, isn't it?