You’ve likely heard the saying before, you are what you eat. Well…that’s not entirely true, you are what you digest and absorb. When we nourish our bodies with healthy, whole foods (and are able to absorb that nutritional goodness), our tummies, skin, hair/nails, energy, etc. all reap the benefits.
For example, do you want glowing skin? Well…that healthy glow you are longing for actually starts in the gut. Our external appearance is (often) a reflection of what we’ve got going on inside. It’s not always an easy fix because no two bodies are the same, so what works for one may not work for another. However, here are a couple of things that we can all do to optimize our digestion and absorption:
- One: Where possible, eat local. If you are eating local, your food is often more fresh with fewer (or no) preservatives. Not sure what’s in season? Check out your local farmers market and browse the local produce stands.
- Two: Eat whole foods that are as close to nature as possible. As a general rule, on packaged foods, limit the ingredient list to less than 5 ingredients and make sure you are able to pronounce each ingredient. If you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t be eating it.
- Three: Eat probiotic rich foods or take a high quality probiotic supplement. A healthy gut biome is key to all areas of your health – physical and emotional. Probiotics help to repopulate and rebalance the healthy bacteria in our gut.
- Four: Add greens to every meal. Dark leafy greens are filled with antioxidant and detoxification priorities. Green smoothies and green juices offer an easy on the go option to get your greens in!
- Five: Drink more water. Water is so important to overall health. When the body is properly hydrated our detoxification systems function optimally, nutrients are more easily absorbed and overall health is improved.
- Six: Stress less. Stress hinders our bodies ability to digest because when we are stressed, we are in our sympathetic nervous system (i.e. fight or flight). When we are in this state, our bodies are not using energy to digest (because historically we experienced this stressed state when we were in a dangerous situation, i.e. being chased by a bear). Optimal digestion occurs when we are in a relaxed state (parasympathetic nervous system, rest and digest). So…for optimal absorption and nourishment, we CANNOT be so stressed. So breathe deep.
- Seven: Get more sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours every night (I know, this seems impossible for some). Sleep is important for your body to rest, repair and regenerate. Plus, a lack of sleep leads to an increase in the production of the hormone, ghrelin. Elevated levels of this hormone negatively impact our ability to recognize when we are no longer hungry (and therefore we tend to overeat). Overeating negatively impacts digestion and causes inflammation in the body.
- Eight: Drink your food – sounds weird, right? Digestion begins in your mouth, so remember to chew your food, until its a ‘liquid’ consistency.
Integrate all (or at least some) of these suggestions and observe change in how you feel and how you look. Slow down and allow your body to nourish, absorb and digest. Sometimes its easier said than done, but your body will thank you.
[AUTHOR: BECCA CORNWALL]