Eating is a necessary practice that is intended to nourish our bodies with the fuel required to operate at optimal levels. However, poor food production and eating habits have compromised our digestion and resulted in a multitude of digestive problems that open the gates for all kinds of disease processes.
When eating, consider making these very easy changes to ensure digestion goes much more smoothly and so you feel much better following mealtime.
Chew your food thoroughly
Digestion begins as soon as food enters your mouth. As you chew, you mechanically break down your food. Enzymes are secreted from the salivary and parotid glands, which begin to break the food down chemically.
Most people chew their food between 7 and 14 times per mouthful, which is a bit shy of the 30 to 50 times per mouthful suggested in order to mix the food with saliva to ensure optimal digestion.
As a result of our poor chewing habits, the first stage of digestion is compromised, which makes it more difficult for the second stage to complete its job effectively.
Avoid drinking water, juice, milk, or alcohol while eating
A common habit during meals is to consume some type of beverage, most often water, milk, juice, or alcohol. This has become a customary habit that has directly interfered with the digestive process (cold beverages interfere even more).
Water and most other beverages should be consumed 30 minutes or more before a meal and should be avoided after until food had properly digested. This is due to the fact that they interfere with stomach acid and therefore hamper that second stage of digestion. Add in complicating factors like sugars in juice, milk, and alcohol, and the digestive process becomes even more compromised.
If you drink anything shortly before or at mealtime, make it an enzyme and probiotic rich beverage like kefir or apple cider vinegar, and limit it to a few ounces.
Improve your food combinations
Not only do we need to watch the types of food we eat, we also need to watch the types of foods we combine together, as good foods may make for a terrible combination and there will be a sacrifice in the digestive process.
Some common food combining rules include:
- Eat fruits or sugary foods on their own, on an empty stomach.
- Eat animal protein with non-starchy vegetables
- Eat grains or starchy foods with non-starchy vegetables
- Eat fermented foods with any meal to aid in digestion
Following these general rules will ensure a much more efficient digestive process.
Resist the temptation to overeat
Sometimes the food is just too good to stop eating, and this is especially prevalent during the holiday season when we tend to overindulge in all the dishes and treats set before us. At times like these, it's important to exercise some restraint and spread out your food intake so that you don't overload your digestive system.
A good rule is to eat until you are about 80% full, leaving 20% available for digestion. This way you don't overburden your digestive system and leave food undigested, which will render a toxic reaction that will further affect your digestion in the future.