Digestive double-tip of the day

Many North Americans suffer needlessly with digestive woes. Bloating, gas, and overall abdominal discomfort following a meal is surprisingly common. The meal starts out with loose pants, and by the last forkful, the belt is loosened, the button is undone and it’s time to change into the stretchies. And that’s without overeating.

photo courtesy of health.com

Sound familiar?

Now, there are a plethora of reasons as to why your digestion might be askew. And, there are plenty of ways to get to the root of the problem and sort it all out. That’s what holistic nutritionists, like me, are happy to help you out with.

But, if you eat a relatively healthy diet – lots of vegetables, some fruit, lean meat and fish, seeds and nuts, for example – I’ve got two quick and easy tips that can help take your digestive health to the next level.

1. Take a tablespoon of raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar in water 15-20 minutes before your meal.

Raw ACV – as we health-minded busybodies like to call it – is a natural, healing vinegar that boasts a pow of live enzymes and minerals. It is a natural probiotic and offers anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. Raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar is a living food that has been fermented – you will see the ‘mother’ floating about, which consists of strands and little bits of protein and pectin that form when the vinegar has matured.

Sounds kind of icky, but it is all good stuff, and surprisingly okay on the palate. I quite enjoy it, and often sip ACV in water during the day, as an alternative to fresh lemon juice. A drop or two of liquid stevia makes it quite lovely on a hot afternoon.

Yes, really.

ACV distinguishes itself from the other vinegars on the shelf because it is a living food that has not been over-processed or over-heated. A tablespoon before dinner, for example, will help stimulate the digestive juices needed to break down the food and assimilate more nutrients. It soothes the digestive tract. It will help with bloating, gas, heartburn and constipation.

As if that’s not enough, raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar is purported to strengthen the immune system, fight allergies, increase metabolism, and reduce infections – like sinus problems and sore throats.

Here is one of many brands you can find (even in the natural foods section of your regular supermarket) – always look for the words, ‘mother,’ ‘raw,’ ‘unfiltered,’ and/or ‘unpasteurized’:


2. Eat some raw veggies just prior to your meal.

This is a simple one. Very basically, raw plant food is living fuel that provides enzymes that will help with the breakdown of your food, and help to best absorb the nutrients. And of course, raw vegetables are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Essentially, you will be setting the stage for improved digestion. The enzymes in raw food – protease, amylase, and lipase – will help break down the protein, starch and fat in itself and the rest of the meal.

I usually start my meal with a green salad, or if a salad is not an option, I munch on raw celery, carrots, cauliflower or kohlrabi, for example, while preparing my cooked meal. If I’m headed out for dinner, I stash some cut-up raw veggies in my purse and have a nibble en route to the restaurant. Or I order a salad before my meal. You get the deal.

Bonus tip: I know I said I would offer up 2 tips. But, let me toss in a bonus: don’t guzzle beverages while eating. In fact, try to abstain from drinking fluids about 15-20 minutes before your meal and another 15-20 minutes post-eating. Why? Because fluids will dilute these all-important enzymes I’ve been talking about and your digestion may suffer as a result. If you feel the urge to drink while eating, take small sips, sparingly.

All right. Time to give these tips a try – you may be surprised at how such subtle changes can make a welcome change in how you feel after your meal.

Let’s enjoy loose pants after dinner for a change!