Mealtime Habits to Improve Digestion

There are simple mealtime habits you can change that can help improve your digestion.

If you suffer from uncomfortable indigestion, gas, bloating and even acid reflux, the symptoms can be not only painful, but also embarrassing.  Luckily, there are simple mealtime habits you can change that can help improve your digestion.

  1. Chew Your Food More – Most people only chew their food between seven and fourteen times per mouthful of food. The recommendation for optimal digestion is between 30-50 times.  Most of us are falling short.  Digestion begins as soon as the food enters your mouth.  As you chew, your saliva secretes enzymes, which help break down the food making it easier to digest.  When you don’t chew thoroughly, you are compromising this first stage of digestion.
  2. Combine Food Carefully – If you suffer from digestive difficulties, you likely know that there are certain foods you should avoid that can make symptoms worse. However, you also need to be mindful of the how you are combining foods.  Some healthy foods, if combined with the wrong food can lead you to trouble.  Keep these rules in mind:
  • Eat fruits or foods high in sugar on their own, on an empty stomach.
  • Eat animal protein such as meat with non-starchy vegetables
  • Eat grains or starchy foods with non-starchy vegetables
  • Eat fermented foods with any meal to aid in digestion
  1. Know When to Stop Eating – Food is meant for enjoyment. But sometimes, we are enjoying it so much that we forget to stop eating and stuff ourselves. A good rule of thumb is to eat until you are about 80% full; when you could eat a few more bites, but doing so would cause you to feel overly full.  That leaves 20% available for digestion.   If you’re overtaxing your system, some food will be undigested leading to acid reflux and more.  You need to exhibit some restraint so you don’t overload your digestive system.
  2. Don’t Eat and Drink – Most of us pour a glass of something to accompany our meal. But did you know that drinking and eating together could cause digestive distress?  Cold beverages interfere even more!  Beverages during meals interfere with stomach acid and the second stage of digestion.  If you’re drinking milk or alcohol, the sugars complicate things further.  If you’re going to drink something, it should be done 30 minutes or more before a meal and should then be avoided until after your food has had a chance to properly digest.

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