Restoring your digestive health with sensible strategies and effective natural indigestion remedies can help with uncomfortable, painful symptoms and recovery. You do not have to suffer with chronic gas, heartburn, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and food sensitivities. You can feel better and enjoy better gut health and general health by getting your digestive system working at its best.
Your digestive system runs from your mouth to your anus and fills a lot of space in your torso. It is responsible for getting nutrients into your body, digesting and assimilating those nutrients, and getting waste and toxins out.
Your intestines are home to a few pounds of bacteria, helpful and harmful, and yeasts. Almost all your serotonin is made in the intestines to regulate its movements.
Lymph tissue lining your digestive system produces over 60% of your immune cells.When this lining is compromised, so is your immune system. This increases your risk of infection, autoimmune diseases, gut flora imbalances, joint problems, skin issues and faster aging.
When something goes wrong in the digestive system, whether it's in the stomach, gallbladder, liver, intestines or elsewhere, trouble ensues. Distressing abdominal symptoms occurring after meals may mean you are poorly digesting food. When this happens, your body cannot assimilate all the nutrients you need and you experience gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, inflammation, pain and/or heartburn.
Digestive distress can have a variety of causes. From a holistic perspective, the three main categories of gastro-intestinal imbalances include diet, dysbiosis, and stress.
What you eat and don't eat affects your digestive health in the short and long-term. Your food and drink choices support a healthy, happy GI system (and body) or cause mild to severe symptoms and disease.
A number one bad food offender is processed and unnatural food. These foods include junk food, refined carbohydrates, GMO food, unhealthy fats, and too much animal food including meat, eggs, dairy. Foods that irritate your gut are also problematic, even if they are healthy for someone else. They cause trouble in your digestive system, immune system, and throughout your body.
A diet rich in bad food is also a diet lacking in nutrients. When your body does not get the vitamins, minerals, fiber, healthy fats, and amino acids it needs it will not function properly or have what it needs for optimum repair and replacement of cells.
An imbalance between less ideal pathogenic microbes and a deficit of beneficial gut bacteria is called dysbiosis.
This common condition is aggravated by poor diet, lack of fermented foods, antibiotic use, medication, avoiding soil, and keeping your house too sterile. Antibiotics kill all bacteria-good and bad-and allow yeasts and fungus to expand their numbers and territory.
If you have a lot of bloating, gas, and/diarrhea, you probably have a form of dysbiosis.
SIBO-small intestine bacterial overgrowth- is a gut imbalance in which bacteria (good and/or bad) migrate from the colon into the small intestine and overgrow there. Generally, the small intestine is home to only a small amount of bacteria. SIBO can cause a wide range of health issues including diarrhea, nausea, rosacea, fatigue, malabsorption, depression, and weight loss.
Mental stress causes your brain and hormones to go into “fight or flight” mode. Survival is highest priority with blood flow going away from the digestive tract and toward your limbs instead. Digestion and nutrient absorption is at low priority in this mode. That means the release and flow of digestive juices and enzymes are inhibited. Ditto for detoxification, cell repair, food processing and nutrient absorption. Chronic stress can lead to chronic stomach and intestinal symptoms.
Are digestive troubles making you miserable? Do over-the-counter remedies temporarily relieve your symptoms, only to have your symptoms return or worsen with every meal?
There is a better way to improve your gut health. The following strategies and natural remedies for indigestion help with discomfort and and restoring your digestive health.
Many people swear by antacids. It may feel like antacids are restoring your digestive health because symptoms temporarily go away, but they are usually problematic. Antacids neutralize neutralize stomach acid needed for digestion and nutrient assimilation.
When you feel like you need an antacid, try caraway seeds. They help relieve indigestion, constipation, and heartburn. Caraway seeds pair well with sauerkraut, white beans, and cabbage dishes. They are a favorite in rye breads.
The real problem with indigestion is often too little stomach acid, not too much. This causes the reflux. Unless you have been tested and proven to have too much stomach acid, regularly taking these remedies can do more harm than good. Your GI symptoms can worsen because malabsorption and improper digestion increase your chances of getting dysbiosis and SIBO.
Healthful natural remedies for indigestion and gut health can ease symptoms in the short-term and help heal your gut over time.
Experiment with the following digestive remedies. Give them at least a few weeks trial and see if they help.
Chemicals in our food, medications, foods you are sensitive to, and chlorine all take their toll on healthy gut bacteria. When there is an imbalance between the trillions of positive bacteria, unhelpful or unhealthy bacteria and yeast in the intestines, proper digestion, assimilation, detoxification and wellness are all compromised.
Probiotics rich in beneficial bacteria are essential for restoring your digestive health. They are major players in having a healthy gut, detoxification, and strong immunity. Fermented food and beverages are excellent sources of multiple strains of probiotics. Supplements are also good if you prefer, but are more expensive and may have fewer strains and number of live cultures.
Betaine HCL or a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with your meal will boost stomach acidity and aid digestion. Here is how to find your dose of betaine HCL. At each meal, increase your dose by one tablet until you feel a burning sensation. That is too much so cut back by one tablet next time. You may need less for smaller meals. Experiment until you find the amount that is right for you.
Broad spectrum digestive enzymes are important for restoring your digestive health. They are needed to break down food. Raw food contains live enzymes, but cooked food does not. As humans age, our enzyme production dwindles, resulting in poor absorption and abdominal discomfort.
Take enzyme supplements with the first bites of food. Some enzyme formulas also contain betaine HCL. Look for a supplement with amylase to break down starch, protease for protein digestion, lipase to break down fats, cellulase for indigestible polysaccharide in dietary cellulose, and lactase for digesting milk sugar.
Prunes are a wonderful constipation natural remedy. Eat two prunes twice a day or drink an eight-ounce glass of juice and see if that helps. Or try a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses in the morning to quiet your stomach and get your intestines moving. Lemon juice is another popular digestive remedy. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into warm water and drink first thing in the morning. The Vitamin C and acid detoxify the body and break up intestinal blockages and ease bloating.
Bone Broth made from organic grass-fed beef or pastured chicken is a go-to food remedy for restoring your digestive health because the broth is rich in minerals and healing compounds including collagen and amino acids. The collagen reduces intestinal inflammation and heals the gut lining. If making the broth with chicken, add in a few collagen-rich feet. You may want to stick to bone broth as a mono-diet for a few days to heal the gut lining before adding in other foods. If you are not fasting, you may gain additional benefits by sipping the broth by itself during the day on an empty stomach, but even with food, it is helpful and healthy for you.
In addition to a healthy whole food diet, herbs and spices can be very helpful for easing symptoms of indigestion and restoring your digestive health. Many of them are tasty and can be used to flavor your food and beverages. Use your favorites at each meal to keep indigestion at bay, aid nutrient absorption, and keep your digestive system working optimally.
Demulcent or mucilaginous herbs can be helpful allies in restoring your digestive health. They get slimy when mixed with water. This may sound gross, but it is a good thing. The slime coats the mucosal lining and acts as a moist, soothing protective barrier against irritants.
If you suffer from ulcers, gastritis, leaky gut, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or reflux, give demulcent herbs a try.
Bitter herbs are good for almost everyone to get the digestive juices and enzymes flowing. They tend to be cooling to the digestive system and stimulate saliva, stomach acid production, enzyme production, and peristalsis (the wave-like motion that moves food through your digestive tract). A positive side effect of these actions is healthy, regular elimination. Bitters also help reduce cravings for sugar and reduce the glycemic effect of food.
Many of us do not have enough of the detoxifying bitter herbs and foods in our daily diets. If you find bitters irritating, make them more dilute or take smaller portions. Or start with mucilaginous herbs for a few months and then try again.
Bitter foods and herbs include arugula, kale, bitter melon, coffee, Jerusalem artichoke, turmeric, saffron, grapefruit, dill, chamomile, and sesame seeds. Include at least a small amount of bitter foods or spices at most meals.
Many carminatives warm the gut, although some, like chamomile and the mints are cooling. These tasty herbs and spices are helpful for gas, nausea, bloating, and feeling like food is sitting in your stomach. Compounds in carminatives called volatile oils are largely responsible for relieving cramps and gas by increasing gastric emptying.
Examples of carminative herbs and spices include: anise, fennel, black pepper, cardamom, peppermint, chamomile, lemon balm, ginger, cinnamon, and rosemary.
If your GI symptoms persist after incorporating these healthful foods and remedies, see your doctor. You may have a serious health issue causing your digestive distress. Medications may also be a problem.
Restoring your digestive health is possible. The rewards include optimized nutrient absorption, waste elimination, and neurotransmitter creation as well as improved energy, immune function and overall well-being.
Restoring Your Digestive Health page updated 12/2020