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images By Olivia Janisch

Tired? Weak? Stressed? You’re not alone. And it might not be why you think it is.

Digestive issues are the cause of strife for over 100 million Americans. They contribute to everything from heartburn to lack of energy to depression. The current approach to dealing with these problems is clearly not working, so it’s essential to address digestive health from a holistic standpoint.

There are a number of reasons we suffer: poor diet, poor digestion, allergies, lack of essential nutrients, stress, overuse of medications, and toxins. However, our bodies are naturally wired to support our health, starting with our guts. We all have a rainforest of bacteria in our stomachs critical to the efficiency of our immune systems and overall vibrance. It is our job to nurture our stomach health with the right lifestyle and diet choices to reduce suffering and discomfort. Here are some ways to do this that don’t include the pharmacy.

1. Actively improve your digestion

When we don’t properly break down our food, it rots, undigested in our stomachs. This causes toxicity, weight gain, fatigue, and poor skin, and means that we’re not properly absorbing nutrients. It is critical to have efficient digestion.

Eat slowly and chew your food. Digestion starts in the mouth, and your stomach does not have teeth. The act of chewing activates digestive enzymes and prepares your stomach to break down your food, absorb nutrients, and pass along waste. Eating greens like spinach, kale and celery before your meal enhances this process too. Additionally, you can actually take digestive enzymes when you eat to improve digestion. Do not drink while you eat. Excessive liquids make it stifle your digestive fire, so if you must drink take small sips while you eat.

2. Identify allergies

Unknown allergies are the underlying cause of a lot of illness. It’s very common to have a low-grade allergy that builds over time and create of a lot of discomforts. Instead of dismissing things like fatigue, bloating, skin issues, and headaches, it’s important to pay attention and listen to what our bodies are telling us.

The simplest way to figure out if you have an allergy is to do an elimination diet. Try cutting out allergens like corn, soy, dairy, eggs, and gluten one at a time for a period of 2 weeks. Your body will tell you almost immediately if you’re allergic, because you’ll be rid of the symptoms that were an issue before.

3. Breathe deeply

Deep breathing is really good for your stomach health. There are more neurotransmitters in your stomach than there is in your brain, and taking long and deep inhalations helps to activate and release them. It also helps to ease tension or stress that we hold on to that can cause things like constipation, cramps, and bloating.

4. Eat gut healthy foods

Certain foods wreak havoc in our systems while others map out perfect harmony. Eating things that nourish your inner system will make good bacteria thrive and flourish, and will help make your system much more efficient.

These include:

  • Fiber rich foods
  • Probiotics
  • Fresh juices
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Omega-3s
  • Water

Reduce:

  • Sugar and artificial sugar
  • Dairy
  • Red meat
  • Processed food
  • Refined carbs
  • Gluten
  • Cigarettes and alcohol

If you suffer from stomach issues, regularly taking over the counter medicines and avoiding the root issues will guarantee discomfort and can lead to bigger problems. Start with one of the aforementioned techniques to help get your system in order, and you’ll quickly notice the benefits.

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