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Good digestion, as I’m learning, is the answer to many health issues. It can be one of the first warning signs your body has to let you know something’s wrong.
1. Try not to eat when under pressure or stress – if you can, eat in a relaxed environment and if possible away from your desk or the tv. Try to get up and walk around for 10-20 minutes after you’ve eaten. If it’s a weekend try to sleep / power nap afterwards – sleep helps to rejuvenate your liver.
2. Cold food and drink isn’t as easy for your body to digest as warm food and drink – anything cold slows down digestion. If this sounds familiar, try soups, noodles, broths and hot sandwiches instead of fridge cold sandwiches or salads and try herbal teas or hot water instead of cold juices and cold water.
3. Try to drink a stimulating ginger tea 20 minutes before or 20 minutes after lunch to aid digestion – drinking at the same time as eating weakens your stomach acid.
4. To help your digestion in general, try mixing in milled flaxseed into porridge or soups. Flax has the added benefit of balancing hormonal activity.
5. Don’t eat late at night. Your liver rejuvenates itself between 10-12pm and will respond better if you have your last meal of the day before 7pm (not easy!).
6. Try to make your lunchtime meal your main meal – then eat a lighter supper. Digestion is optimum at lunchtime.
7. Obviously eat lots of grains, vegetables and fruit (vegetables have more useful fibre than wholemeal bread).
8. Don’t overeat at any meal. It’s terrible for your liver and can lead to fatty liver and also 'excess type' constipation. If you do overeat, try to lie down on your left hand side – it helps your stomach digest the food and your body to concentrate on one thing.
9. The Ayurvedic ideal (India's healthy living system that yoga forms a part of) is to eat two fistfuls of food at each meal. Useful to remember for portion control (note to self).
10. Exercise will always help digestion; it tones the colon, improves circulation and helps to cleanse the liver of built up toxins.
If you’re interested I found this amazing book which covers pretty much every health eventuality and how specific foods can help from an Eastern Medicine / Ayurvedic perspective.
For more on Ayurveda and health try Deepak Chopra’s original health book which is packed with useful tips on looking after yourself.