We recently had “coffee” with some girlfriends and the conversation centered around the changes we’re all experiencing from aging. Everyone had their own theory on how to combat the aging process from miracle skin creams, juice cleanses, hula hooping for weight loss, Botox, Spanx, and the list went on.
We thought more about it after we left and came to the conclusion that perhaps the most important thing we can do to fight the aging process is to improve our digestion. The reason we say this is because we’ve seen what a difference good digestion has made for Annie and Brody. We realized we need to “practice what we preach.” In the past, we’ve eaten the same way as our children for short bursts of time. But life, the expense, sheer laziness all got in the way. We felt great when we ate like our children and are striving to get “back on the wagon.”
We believe you have to start from the inside out. Then, all the interventions our girlfriends spoke of would be more effective and longer lasting.
Digestion is critical to good health. Poor digestion can lead to bigger problems than physical discomfort. If your body isn’t breaking down food properly it is impossible to get the nutrients you need, even if you eat a healthy diet. Poor digestion can lead to irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, and indigestion. It also directly affects your hormones, immune system, and emotions. If you improve your digestion, many times your body will fix the negative health symptoms you’re experiencing.
We have been googling good digestion and the top foods, herbs, and supplements that keep popping up are:
- Prebiotics and Probiotics– Prebiotics create a healthy environment in your gut so that good bacteria can thrive. Probiotics add good bacteria to your gut so that your digestion, immune, and neurological systems are improved.
- Fermented Foods – Fermented foods are pre-digested and therefore, don’t strain the digestive system. They also enhance good bacteria. Examples of fermented foods are: kefir, sauerkraut (non pasteurized), yogurt (low sugar), and kimchi.
- Digestive Enzymes – Improve nutrient absorption. Leah loves TriEnza with DPP-IV by Houston Enzymes because it works amazingly well for Brody (and she has tried lots and lots of enzymes).
- Zinc – Zinc is required by your body to make its own digestive enzymes. A simple blood test will tell you if you have enough zinc for your body to work properly. If your body doesn’t have enough zinc, you will have to take more and more digestive enzymes to compensate.
- Alkaline Foods – Most of the foods we eat (especially processed foods) are acidic. If your body’s Ph level is overly acidic, you will kill off your good bacteria and digestive enzymes. Therefore, it is important to eat alkaline foods every day such as: kale, kelp, spinach, parsley, broccoli, and sea vegetables.
- Limit Processed Foods, Dairy and Gluten – The reason for this is that they are all hard to digest and often cause bloating, inflammation, skin break outs, fatigue, heart burn, mood swings, and other dysfunctions. If you can find the strength to eliminate these foods all together, that would lead to the most drastic improvements.
- Herbs –
- Chinese Cardamom – raises antioxidant levels and boosts the immune system
- Cinnamon – soothes discomfort, improves digestion, and balances blood sugar
- Ginger Root – improves digestion, reduces inflammation, increases antioxidants, and boosts immunity
- Chamomile and Mint – comfort the stomach and soothe the muscles of the digestive tract
- If you don’t use these herbs in your cooking, you can take the easy way out and do what Molly does… drink organic herbal teas (they come in tea bags). She boils several cups of water, mixes all the types of tea bags together, lets them steep for 15 minutes, adds cool water (to taste) and drinks the iced tea all week-long.
- Fish Oil – Reduces inflammation, helps heal the lining of the intestines, improves nutrient absorption, balances hormones, improves brain function, and strengthens your immune system.
- Fiber – You need fiber to keep regular. If you are not regular (regular means going at least once a day http://www.healthinducedautism.com/bristol-stool-chart.html) then toxins will build up in your gut which then turns into a breeding ground for disease.
In addition to changing what you eat, it also helps to change how you eat to improve digestive health. Here are some tips:
- Don’t eat 2-3 hours before bed.
- Eat slowly and thoroughly chew your food.
- Get tested for food allergies/sensitivities and eliminate those foods.
- Drink lots of water (half your body weight in ounces).
- Reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake because they damage your good digestive bacteria.