"There is nothing so overrated as sex, and nothing so underrated as a good bowel movement." Mark Twain
Digestion is a BIG topic in a lot of wellness circles and so you will often see many articles regarding the topic. I included a cute infographic awhile back because I am a firm believer in healthy bowel movements. I rarely run into any problems with this and when I do it's usually for several reasons, most of them centering on an increase in cooked foods.
Good digestion is important to overall health for many reasons, but the #1 reason, for me, is that I hate the discomfort of bloated intestines. Slow digestion can zap your energy, increase inflammation in the body (which can look like arthritis, skin rashes, sickness, etc.) and it can also house the toxins your body is trying to naturally release.
There are many books and articles and websites on the topic but I try not to get too into the whole self-diagnosing trend that is floating around the web. Do I have a leaky gut or adrenal fatigue? How should anyone truly know this? If the symptoms remain the same I believe a lot of the treatment is the same, as well: clean, wholesome diet (whatever "wholesome" means to you and your body), moderate exercise, sunshine, good sleep, and lots of clean water. These 5 things can help eliminate a lot of problems.
So many people claim that they are pretty satisfied with their digestion thank-you-very-much but don't realize that just because you visit the toilet in the mornings it doesn't mean you have smooth digestion. Actually, we should be eliminating 3-4 times a day! Ideally, we would eliminate for every meal we eat, allowing our bodies to process, absorb, and then eliminate the foods we eat within a timely manner. If you are pooing less than twice a day then you are more likely to be constipated than you are to have a strong digestive system.
Here are my own tips for good digestion:
- Clean diet. This is an obvious answer but I just cannot even tell you how much my health improved when I started eating things from the Earth and stopped eating things from the factories. Eating the way your body was designed to eat just makes sense, so your body will thrive best when you honor that. For me, that means a plant-based diet that is low in fat. Every once in awhile I'll eat animal products but I never eat meat. And this is what works for me. Every body is different so every diet will be different, but the fact remains the same: eat what exists in nature and your body will thrive.
- Probiotics. Probiotics* have become a happy part of my daily routine. Every morning I take my probiotics before I eat anything (usually in between LOTS of water and then fruit). Your gut is made up of lots of different kinds of bacteria and the probiotics help boost the good kind. They are excellent little workers in boosting your immune system and overall digestive function. Give them a whirl and watch how your body responds.
- Water. This really should be #1 on the list because this is so important. So many people do not drink enough water and their overall health suffers. If you do not have enough water then the toxic waste in your body has nothing to move it out. The water sort of acts like a lubricant in your intestines, so give your poo a lubricant to come out!
- Raw Fruits and Veggies. On that note, it is important to clarify that fruits and veggies are important for digestion (in case you didn't assume this in #1). Fruits and veggies are loaded with fiber, which acts as a natural, and gentle, broom that sweeps through your intestines and collects anything that doesn't belong there. Paired with the water you're drinking (see #3) and the water content in the fruits and veggies, waste is more free to move through you rather than get stuck.
- Exercise. This is a dreaded to-do for many people but I don't actually mean lifting-weights. What I mean is this: use your body how it was meant to be used (this is in line with #1). We are creatures of the Earth and we are not meant to sit on a couch or sit in a chair all day. Sure it pays the bills these days but it does horrible things for our health and also our digestion. By increasing your heart rate and blood flow you are allowing your body to use its very own plumbing system to push out all the gunk that is stored inside. Go for walks. Play outside. Do some yoga. Ride a bike. Run, slowly. My digestion is never so spectacular as it is when I'm running regularly ...
- Sleep. Sleep is one of my favorite ways to practice self-care and is also one of the easiest--and cheapest--ways to take care of your health. Appropriate amounts of sleep help regulate your hormones and bodily functions, allowing your body to properly process everything from your head to your toes. It's not a direct link to digestion, but it is a direct link to everything else and everything is related to digestion. Stress, hormones, fatigue ... it all gets in the way of a good poo. Get some rest and I can bet a lot of areas in your life will improve.
- Optimal Sitting. This is a foreign concept to many but adjust your body to mimic the use of this gadget* and watch a shift in your daily ritual. Or, even make the purchase and try it, full-force. The position your body is in when using this gadget really plays into the yoga positions that help stimulate your digestive tract so it's no surprise it works.
- Magnesium. And as a last resort I like to recommend Magnesium Caps* to get things moving. One or two of these guys and your bowels relax enough to let whatever is in there to move out freely (and painlessly). I don't recommend this first because #1-7 work wonderfully but I also recognize that sometimes it's just helpful to have an extra push.
This works wonders for myself and I'm certain you will notice changes in your own digestion, as well ... and I'm also pretty certain you will notice a shift in your overall health if you practice these tips, daily.
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