For many of us, the holiday season is a time for overindulgence, which can wreak havoc on your digestive system if you aren’t careful. Luckily, we’ve got you covered. Here are some of our favourite digestive health tips to keep you feeling good in the coming weeks:
Tip #1: Eat fermented foods. We’ve talked about fermentation before, but eating fermented foods is an easy way to maintain good digestive health. The process of fermentation produces beneficial probiotics (AKA “good” bacteria) that help with digestion by breaking down ingested food. These micro-organisms essentially pre-digest the food, reducing the amount of work your digestive system needs to do. All of Spread ‘Em Kitchen’s cream cheese-style cashew spreads are naturally lacto-fermented. Just one spoonful of fermented food can contain trillions of these healthy probiotics, which is significantly more than you get from a probiotic supplement (usually in the billions).
Tip #2: Add herbs and spices to your cooking. Herbs and spices are sometimes an overlooked part of meal creation, but they add a ton of flavour and a lot of them actually help with digestion. Cilantro and turmeric are just two of the many herbs and spices known to aid in digestion. Cilantro contains fiber, which promotes healthy digestion, and it may have the ability to relieve gas, bloating, and indigestion. And, turmeric has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine as a digestive healing agent.
Tip #3: Drink more water. Dehydration is common this time of year, but you need to make sure you get enough water if you want to keep your digestion in check. Water breaks down food, allowing your body to absorb the nutrients. An easy way to make sure you’re staying hydrated is to work a few glasses of water into your daily routine. Whether you start the day with a glass of water or drink a glass at your mid-afternoon break, it doesn’t really matter as long as you make sure each day you’re getting a good dose of it.
Tip #4: Try dry skin brushing. Dry skin brushing involves giving your body a simple 5-minute daily massage with a stiff-bristled brush. The brushing not only improves the appearance of skin and relieves stress, but works deeper than that, stimulating your lymphatic system to release built-up toxins and shed excess water. In turn, this improves digestion and kidney function. Skin brushing is a simple way to give your digestive system that little boost around the holidays. Want to give skin brushing a try, but not sure how? Mind, Body, Green has A Step-by-Step Guide to Dry Skin Brushing.
Tip #5: Skip the after-dinner coffee in favour of tea. Green teas and many herbal teas aid in digestion and help to alleviate some digestive issues such as bloating and gas. Green tea contains polyphenols called catechin, which increases the activity of the digestive enzyme that breaks down proteins in the stomach. Peppermint tea improves the flow of bile, which allows for food to be digested more quickly. Other herbal teas that are said to improve digestion and treat gastrointestinal issues are: ginger root, fennel, licorice root, lemon balm, and chamomile.
Tip #6: Add some aromatherapy to your routine. Adding a few drops of essential oils to a diffuser can help aid your body in digestion. If you’d like to experiment with different oils and scents, you can create your own customized blend from oils such as sweet fennel, peppermint, roman chamomile, black pepper, myrrh, cinnamon, and ginger. If you want to keep it simple, there are many pre-made blends available specifically for digestion, and some come in a handy roll-on container that you can apply directly to your abdomen area for maximum effect.
Tip #7: Relax! We know it’s a busy time of year, but when it comes to eating, slow down and be mindful. Taking that little bit of extra time is a really easy way to improve digestion. Practice mindful eating by thoroughly chewing each bite, noticing and appreciating the food you’re eating. This translates to better digestion because the more you take time to chew, the more you’re helping to pre-digest food. Eating more mindfully not only better connects you to the food you’re eating, and really helps to ground you in the moment and allows you to more fully enjoy your surroundings and the people you’re with, which is what the holidays are really about.