Now, that you have had time to test your transit time let’s talk about a few very basic ways to improve your transit time. The key here is to ask yourself, honestly, if you are practicing these simple suggestions. Many people hear these suggestions and discount their effectiveness because they seem too easy. Don’t fall victim to that way of thinking. Instead, give these a try.
Stop What You’re Doing!
When you are going to eat something you need to stop whatever it is you’re doing and focus solely on the act of eating. This is so important because when you are in action your body is under stress. When your body is under stress your sympathetic nervous system is activated and digestion is stopped. You do not want to eat while driving, watching TV, talking on the phone, during bouts of strong emotions (happy or sad), or while doing school work, etc. You need to sit with your food, take a few deep breaths to relax yourself, think about how good the food is going to taste, and relax. Eating is supposed to be a calming and nourishing experience. If it isn’t you are causing your digestive tract undo stress. It’s important to adopt good stress management techniques in general. The stresses of everyday life can have a profound effect on your digestive health even if they are not happening during your mealtimes. Try spending more time in prayer, or mediating on your favorite verse while doing some deep breathing exercises. De-stressing will give you great results not only with your digestive health, but in all areas of your life.
Chew Your Food
Really? That is on the list? Yes! It is on the list! Think about how many times you chew your food before you swallow. Is it 3 times? Maybe, 5 times and then gulp… down it goes. Digestion is both a mechanical and chemical process and it begins in our mouth. God didn’t give us teeth for smiling at the camera for our next #selfiesunday! He gave us teeth to thoroughly chew our food. So, give it a try. Make a conscious effort to chew each bite of food 20-30 times, or until it no longer resembles its original form. Each bite of food should be in a completely liquid form before it is swallowed. Start paying attention to other peoples eating habits… you’ll be surprised at how many people do not chew their food completely. Chewing your food completely will also help you avoid over eating. Plus, your stomach and small intestines won’t have to work overtime and you’ll be left with more energy. Also, there is the added benefit of actually tasting your food! Carbohydrate digestion starts in the mouth and the longer you chew your food the sweeter it will taste. Yum!
Maybe you weren’t expecting this one. We hear (even from the mainstream media) all the time how important exercise is for our health. Well, here it is again! If you have digestive troubles or a slower than optimal transit time you really need to consider adopting a regular exercise regimen. Exercise helps the body cleanse itself of waste, increases blood circulation, and actually will help to tone the muscles in your digestive tract. I’m not suggesting you go out and become the next crossfit champion in order to improve your digestion. That much stress on your body could have the opposite effect. What I am suggesting is that you start walking, rebounding (those tiny trampolines), or maybe try some yoga/stretching. It’s all about getting your blood moving, engaging your abdominal muscles, and de-stressing.
Eat Small Frequent Meals
The smaller your meal the easier it is for your digestive system to do its job. This simple suggestion can really be a game changer for somebody who struggles with poor digestion. When you eat try to let yourself get about 80% full and then stop eating. Focus on eating every few hours and avoid letting yourself get to hungry. A major reason for digestive upset is waiting too long to eat. When that happens we are so hungry we reach for foods that are less than healthy and gorge ourselves on them. Often times this is when we forget we have teeth and actually inhale the food. We are not relaxed while eating this fast and digestion is stopped by our sympathetic nervous system. So, by waiting too long to eat you are actually causing your body to participate in just about every single activity that causes poor digestion. Don’t go down that road!
Well, that’s all for now. I really wanted to focus on encouraging you to start by changing some very basic aspects of your daily living and eating habits. Join me next time for some discussion about specific foods and supplements that can help get your digestion back on track. Until then, blessings to you and yours.