If you suffer from gas, bloating, heartburn and acid reflux, try these steps first before you considering taking a drug. Most people suffer from gas, bloating and acid reflux because of poor eating habits. Instead of enjoying their meals, many people fire the food into their mouths, like they are a machine gun. It is no wonder that the body pays them back with discomfort after it has been assaulted by too much food, too fast. Food is meant to be enjoyed and savored. Meal time should be relaxed. Being a more conscientious eater and paying attention to your food as you eat will help you solve a lot of digestive dilemmas. The first three steps are the most important and can usually solve most cases of acid reflux and heartburn, as well as limit gas and bloating. They sound simple but do not underestimate them – they are powerful!
10 Steps to Good Digestion:
1. Do Not Eat Too Much in One Meal: While the stomach can expand, it shouldn’t. Food is supposed to move through the stomach one bite at a time. It is not supposed to be stuffed in to the stomach so that it is so full, it makes it difficult for the stomach peristaltic action (gastrointestinal muscle contractions) to function. The body may make enough stomach acid for a normal meal but it will not have enough when there is too much food. This will lead to more heartburn and, since there is not enough acid for the stomach’s work to be done properly, poor digestion.
Over consumption is one of the main causes of indigestion. Our brain signals the feeling of fullness about twenty minutes after we’re actually full. So stop eating before you are full.
2.Slow Down and Chew You Food: The purpose of chewing is to prepare food and expose surfaces for further digestion as it moves through the digestive and intestinal tracts. It also allows for single bits of foods to move into the stomach evenly. All of this makes it easier for the digestive process to works as it was designed, one bite at a time. It also allows you to slow down and give your brain time to register that you have consumed enough food.
3. Do Not Drink With Your Meals: It can dilute stomach acid and fill the stomach cavity, which creates issues similar to eating too much food
4. Eat Consistently: Your digestive system likes it best when you eat at regular intervals and eat a consistent amount of food. In other words, it like to know what to expect and when. This also leads to regular elimination of waste materials as well.
5. Food Sequencing: Eat in the foods in a manner that allows the types of foods to digest in a manner that is best for them.
Fruits and vegetables need to be chewed properly in the mouth, then skip through the stomach and hit the intestines where enzymes will finish the process. This takes about 15-30 minutes. Smoothies might take up to 40 minutes depending on the ingredients. Starches or complex carbohydrates also need to be chewed properly and then move through the stomach to the intestines where enzymes will finish the process. Since these consist of much larger molecules that those in fruits and vegetables, it takes up to 2 hours. Concentrated proteins like beef, chicken or fish also take two hour to digest but they need to send at least an hour in the stomach when the stomach acids can start breaking down the protein molecules, before they move into intestines where the enzymes will finish the process.
So to food sequence:
- Eat fruits and vegetables first
- Eat starches and complex carbohydrates such as grains and legumes second
- Eat concentrated protein last
Juices and water take about 15-20 minutes and are best consumed before a meal
Smoothies and soups require about 30-45 minutes so these are best as a first course of a meal
6. Do Not Eat When Stressed: When we are stress, we are in fight or flight, the body’s natural defense mechanism for saving us from physical threat. It does not matter what the cause of the stress is, as soon as we feel anxious, we are in fight or flight, which means the adrenals glands are in charge and as far as they are concerned, they are trying to save your life. This means digestion can wait and energy that would be used for this purpose is diverted to increase heart rate and lung function and provide more energy for muscles. It is not a coincidence that we get heartburn when we eat during times of stress.
- Go For Walk After A Meal: Walking gently raises your need for energy which encourages your digestive system to digest the foods you ate more efficiently. It is a good habit to have every day and is especially necessary after a big meal. When you walk in the evening after dinner, it will also help you sleep better
7. Stand Up and Do the Twist: Twisting your spine will allow gas and toxins to move and be released in the digestive and intestinal system, which has a calming effect. Sit cross-legged on the couch or floor slowly twist to the left and hold. Take five deep breathes, breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. Gently twist to the right and hold and repeat the deep breathing. You could also do this sitting is a chair if sitting cross legged is difficult. Standing also works but make sure your abs are tucked to support your lower back.
8. Stand and Sit-Up Straight: Your mother had it right. When you slouch, it shortens your esophagus puts extra pressure on your stomach and other organs, making it more difficult to digest and making you more prone to reflux and heartburn. If you sit for long periods of time, become aware of you posture. Practice sitting up straight chin tucked in. Be conscious of your posture when you are standing. Look in the mirror and your back is straight. Tuck in your abs to help keep support your posture. Practice yoga or pilates to strengthen your posture. An inversion table can help lengthen your spine and upper body. This will allows for more room for the digestive organs and will help improve digestion.
9. If You Eat Late at Night, Eat Light: As our bodies get ready to go to sleep, everything slows down as our bodies prepare to rest. However, it is not good to go to bed if you are starving as this can disturb your sleep If you do eat late at night, it is best to eat something that requires little digestion like a piece of fruit.
Two More Tips:
If doing all these steps is not enough try a digestive enzyme.
Start with a plant enzyme and make sure it contains amylase for carbohydrates, lipase for protein and protease for protein. Many of these enzymes will contain other enzymes such as lactase for lactose, the carbohydrate found in milk and cellulase for cellulose, the hard fibre found in vegetables.
Probiotics also aid digestion as they make specialty enzymes like lactase and help regulate many substances that can cause intestinal upset, especially during the digestive process.
Hi, I know this is a strange question but first of all let me tell you, the thing I struggle with the most is skipping snacks and therefore my meals become larger and infrequent. This is tricky because I am a busy mom.
My question is, what is considered a large meal?
I usually like to eat chicken or lamb with brown rice, spinach and a small salad with low fat dressing and I use minimal dressing. I do take enzymes.
Can you tell me what portion sizes would be appropriate for this? Maybe one piece of chicken breast and a 1/2 cup of rice?
Thank you and I will be trying these other suggestions as I am hoping to get my reflux under control without any further use of medicine. Mine is pretty bad though.
Hi. Having a piece of chicken, brown rice with spinach and a salad is a goo quality meal. I would have regular dressing made with good quality fats live olive oil as this will help you feel satisfied longer. However, the portion size is the key. First, let me say that what you eat in a meal depends on what you eat for the rest of the day. You never want too be too hungry when you eat as that tends to make you eat more and then the next thing you know you are too full and the reflux begins.
Generally a potion size is the size of your fist so an 8 oz chicken breast may be too much but a cup of rice would be about the size of my fist. If you had a fist size portion of chicken and rice and then filled the rest of your plate with vegetables this would be good. The vegetables can be a combination of salad and spinach or other vegetables. The vegetables need to be consumed with fat in order to help you utilize some of the nutrients that require fat so sprinkle some olive oil and perhaps some lemon juice for extra flavour. season you food to taste so you enjoy it. Then chew. Eat the vegetables first, then the rice and the meat last – make the meal last so you give your digestive to work. If you can take 40 minutes to eat this you will find you have less reflux. If you feel yourself getting full, stop eating – you can always eat the rest of it later -if you get hungry. Try digestives enzymes with hydrochloric acid – you may find this works better for you or taking 2 -3 tsp apple cider vinegar diluted in 2-3 tbsp. water before your meal. This may sound strange to combat reflux but if you do not have enough stomach acid , your stomach may churn more and cause reflux. This is just one possibility but you have to try everything.
s for snacks during the day, set a your watch during the day to remind your self to have a snack ( if hungry) and be sure to keep some handy so that when your watch goes off, you do not have to stop and prepare something since you are busy. I hope these suggestions help.