By following these five tips, you will improve not only your digestive health, but your overall health and well being.
- Eat warm foods. Did you know that the stomach functions the best when we put warm food into it? Iced beverages and cold foods, like frozen desserts, actually stress the stomach. Cold foods and liquids put out the “digestive fire” needed to efficiently break down your food and make nutrients available to your body.
- Eat less. Eating only until we are 70% full is best for optimal digestion. Your stomach needs some room to digest the food you consume. This maximizes the nutrition you get from your food, and can even help you reduce weight. Recent studies have shown that in addition to cognitive benefits, eating less can increase longevity, improve the function of the nervous and immune systems, and reduce incidence of several diseases that are prevalent in our country, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease, diabetes, kidney disease, neuro-degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and autoimmune disease.
- Eat in a calming environment. Like most Chinese medical practitioners, I recommend eating a meal in a relaxing environment (without reading/ watching the news etc) because this provides the optimum environment to process your food. When we eat while stressed or tense/anxious/angry/depressed etc, there is an impact to the Stomach causing the Stomach to ‘rebel’. This usually leads to nausea, vomiting, heartburn, or that sick feeling of having a knot in your stomach.
- Eat light at night. Eating bigger, heavier meals late at night contributes to food stagnation, causing stomach discomfort and bloating. Long-term food stagnation can contribute to a feeling of heaviness and fatigue, and a tendency toward obesity and poor health. Morning is the time of day digestive organs have the most strength and ability to digest food. In the evening (after 8:00 pm) the strength of these organs is at their weakest and our ability to process and metabolize food is greatly diminished.
- Light exercise helps promote digestion. An old Chinese saying is “Walk a hundred paces after a meal and one can live ninety-nine years.” By taking a short stroll after a meal, you help your body move the food through your digestive system and can even lower your blood sugar. This is especially important after the evening meal when our metabolism is somewhat slower.