Routine is the leader when it comes to getting stuff done, when it comes to achieving a goal, and when it comes to consistency within our physical bodies. That can work both ways. A routine that cultivates a properly functioning digestive system will help you through your days with minimal attention to the process itself……because it is merely taking care of itself. That’s what we want.
Digestive health problems are the number one cause that adults call in sick to work and why kids miss school. It’s the biggest complaint in the medical community and it’s the biggest complaint here in my office. Which makes sense because digestion is my THANG!!! That’s right….I sorta help undo the damage that you have blindly eaten yourself into…….but that’s another post entirely. For now, let’s take a look at the “do’s” that those who have optimal digestion take part in.
Some of these things are so basic that it should be innate. It’s puzzling to me sometimes that this in and of itself isn’t a class taught at the elementary level. There is nothing more important in the world that our bodies function optimally, painlessly, and freely. We should not really feel much sensation in our systems other than normal digestive processes of assimilation, absorption, and elimination. And even that should be effortless. Like breathing, we know it’s happening but we aren’t put on alert every time we take a breath.
Creating a routine and a habitual system that keeps your gut in check is the key to stoking your digestive fire. As with all aspects of health, and based on our individual needs, not everyone has the same exact requirements. But we have the same foundation and with a bit of tweaking to your needs, you can customize a system that is most effective for you.
For the most part, I work with clients who predominantly experience functional digestive disturbances, i.e: constipation, IBS, and food sensitivities. Functional digestive problems such as those listed above are primarily due to a stimulus that causes things to either slow down or speed up or anything uncomfortable outside of the normal digestive process. Either way, it alters how the bowel “FUNCTIONS” thereby reducing or increasing its transit time or creating spasms resulting in a great deal of discomfort. In a perfect world, we would have bowel eliminations no less than one time a day. When doctors tell you that it’s normal to have 3 eliminations a week, well, they’ve never been constipated. Only in this country is it normal…..it is, however, less than optimal. The truth is, if you eat, you simply must eliminate….aka….POOP!!!
So with no further hesitation, here is what YOU can do to halt your visits to the doctors, drug stores, and endless searches on Google for the secret remedy:
- HYDRATE HYDRATE HYDRATE It can take some getting used to, but one trigger that your colon does need is one that stimulates the bowel into a movement. This is usually the first recommendation for a clean internal environment. We need a minimum amount of water for our body weight. The general rule of thumb is 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water per day. But that will depend on how hydrating your overall diet is as well as what your symptoms are. If you are constipated, you will want to slowly increase your water intake overall until you find your tipping point. If drinking plain water is b o r i n g for you, by all means add some lemon. The acid in the lemon helps to secret bile from the LV/GB which is also very helpful for stimulating the colon. A dehydrated system allows for impacted waste to accumulate in the colon. Constipation is not only uncomfortable, it’s extremely toxic to the entire body. So get that colon rollin’…….
FIRST THING IN THE MORNING, DRINK 24 OUNCES OF WARM WATER.
- EAT!!! BUT NOT TOO OFTEN!! This whole eating around the clock thing has gotten out of control. It’s a myth that we need to eat 6-8 small meals a day. I’ll leave that discussion for the metabolic experts in terms of what it does to your metabolism. But for purposes of digestive health, it’s overwhelming to constantly shovel food in your system if it’s not moving properly. Even if it is, we need to rest and digest. You cannot keep the digestive fire burning if you are constantly throwing wet logs on top of your flame. Eating too often puts stress on the digestive system. There should be several hours between meals to allow complete assimilation of nutrients and elimination of waste. When you are constantly eating, your system is constantly full and doesn’t have the opportunity to just be empty and rest while assimilating nutrients. This period of emptiness is the ideal time to hydrate with water, teas, and broths.
REST SO YOU CAN DIGEST!!
- GET MOVIN’ SO YOU CAN GET MOVIN’ Moving the body will naturally stimulate the reflexes in the colon creating peristalsis. Activity is he keynote speaker when it comes to our innards. Cardiovascular exercise, yoga, pilates, weight lifting, hiking….whatever your fancy….are all excellent ways to create natural movement within the intestines. It doesn’t have to be intense. In fact, intense exercise MAY cause cramping……so when starting off, keep it simple….but do get moving. Personally I find that cardio based exercises are a little kinder to my system. That paired with functional exercises like planks which help to pull in and strengthen the core muscles will help to strengthen the gut. Vacuuming where you pull in and contract your abdominal muscles for 20 seconds for 15 reps a day has enormous benefits for strengthening the digestive system. As does stretching and abdominal massage.
YOU’VE GOT TO MOVE IT MOVE IT!!
- “EAT FOOD…..NOT TOO MUCH….MOSTLY PLANTS” Michael Pollen had this one dialed in in terms of not only digestion, but overall health. We must eat. But we mustn’t eat all the time nor all the food. A wholefood’s-plant based diet is what will drive this home for you. Your body is made up of trillions of cells, tissues, organs, and body systems whose job is to function based on what it is given. If you give it garbage, it will produce garbage. If you give it clean, natural, wholefoods, it will return the favor by keeping your gut clean, reducing inflammation, offering you energy and ease within your skin. We want to go with the rhythms of our bodies…..but if that rhythm is tripped up, then we fall out of harmony with nature. Do the best you can to fortify your body with lots of whole foods in the forms of vegetables, fruits, natural protein sources, healthy fats, and a good amount of fiber. Fiber is like Goldie Locks…..you’ve got to find what sweet spot that is just right for you. If you struggle with IBS, I’d lay low on the grains and heavy starches as they tend to cause distention and gas and can be drying to the system. Lean more heavily on veggies, fruits, and healthy fats until your system regulates itself, then feel free to add back in to your diet.
IF IT WASN’T PULLED, FARMED, OR FISHED FROM THE SEA……WALK AWAY!!!
- GET YOUR BEAUTY SLEEP!! Aside from digestive health, one of the forces that impacts our health in general is a well rested body. Lack of sleep increases your stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline , and reduces your ability to function optimally. A stressed out exhausted body can impact your digestive system causing bloating for no reason at all other than pure exhaustion. How much sleep you need will depend on your lifestyle, but I feel that less than 7 hours a night impacts our physical health on multiple levels. Lack of sleep simply creates a stressed out system overall impacting your ability to digest, assimilate, and eliminate on a regular schedule.
COUNT THOSE SHEEP AND GET TO SLEEP!!
Don’t wait until the new year to make the changes. You are here today and deserve to feel your best right now. You can make simple changes, such as the ones listed above, and day by day start to see significant changes. Tweak it as you go along. If you need supplements to get you through the transition, by all means, take them. Those who struggle with significant long term constipation will need more than just water and sleep. But those will be reduced or eliminated as your natural rhythms start to kick in and normalize themselves.
To find out more on how to restore you digestive health function naturally, contact me at the link below