Now that you’ve indulged in all that fun holiday not-so-good for you stuff, it’s time for a digestion makeover. Functional medicine practitioner and certified health coach, Jenna Witt, NP, has some easy suggestions for enhancing your digestion. 

You’re a hard worker. I’m not just talking about your career or juggling jobs and being a super mom. Your inner self is working its tail off, too. I’m referring to your digestive system. Breaking down food into usable nutrients—and eliminating what the body doesn’t need—is arguably the hardest job for the body to keep up with. 

Your body spends a great deal of energy on digestion. If you struggle with bloating, indigestion, constipation, gas or other digestive upsets, hopefully these tips for improving your digestion will greatly help. 

#1: Intermittent Fasting

You’ve heard of intermittent fasting but in case you’re not exactly sure what it is, here’s the basics…

Just like my transformational health coaching program, REVITALIZE YOUR HEALTH intermittent fasting (IF) isn’t a diet. Because it’s become so popular, many people think IF is just another fly-by-night health trend. 

But we shouldn’t even call it a trend because people have been doing IF since prehistoric times. IF doesn’t so much restrict what you eat so much as when you eat. One of the most popular ways to do IF is to consume all your calories within an 8-hour window. An example is breaking your fast at 11 a.m. and not eating or drinking anything with calories after 7 p.m. 

So what does intermittent fasting have to do with digestion. Well, if you eat a meal with steak and potatoes, think about how long it takes for full digestion. It can take hours. In fact, red meat can take six hours or even longer to fully digest—if you can fully digest red meat in the first place. 

Intermittent fasting gives your digestive system a rest. And when your digestive system gets a rest, your body can start focusing on other things to do—like cellular repair. 

You can even do an occasional 24-hour fast (once or twice a month) to give your digestive system a maximum reboot. Some people fast for 48 hours. I wouldn’t recommend doing that without supervision but a 24-hour occasional fast is totally doable. People have been fasting for 24 hours for thousands of years for religious reasons. It turns out there might be some ancient wisdom to that. 

If your digestion is off, changing your diet might not be as helpful as you might think. That’s because if your body—at the cellular level—is in need of major repair just like a fixer-upper house, the chronic health issues will still be there. A brief fast can help reset your metabolism.

Simple Ways To Improve Digestion #2: Increase Stomach Acid

In the Midwest where I live, antacids are more common than probiotics. Many people believe that antacids are the silver bullet that stop indigestion, heartburn and acid reflux in their tracks. If you eat a massive meal and have it repeating on you, then sure, an antacid may help those symptoms go away. 

But the real reason heartburn occurs, besides eating too much at a meal, is too little stomach acid. I know, what the heck, right? Most people think it’s too much stomach acid that causes heartburn. One of the simple ways to improve digestion is NOT taking an antacid.

Why would you want to reduce stomach acid when God provided you with the necessary gastric juices to not only break down your food but also to neutralize pathogenic bacteria? 

There are some simple ways to increase your stomach acid. You can add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to water. Or, if you can’t stomach the taste of ACV, add some fresh lemon juice. You can also take supplemental stomach acid in the form of betaine HCL. 

Boost Digestion Tip #3: Take Digestive Enzymes

Another supplement you may want to consider taking are digestive enzymes. You already have digestive enzymes. Even before you take the first bite of food, your brain signals amylase in your saliva to get ready to break down carbohydrates. As your food moves along the digestive tract, pepsin in your stomach in order to break down protein. 

But in order for pepsin to be activated, the pH of your stomach acid needs to be low enough. Now let’s circle back to the tip above about not taking antacids. Guess what happens to the pH of your stomach when you take an antacid? Bingo! Antacids raise stomach pH. So if your stomach pH is too high, pepsin will not get activated. They don’t tell you that in the commercials!

Your pancreas and small intestine release lipase to break down dietary fat. So why the need for digestive enzymes when your own body is so hard at work breaking down food? The answer is that if your digestion is weak, your digestive enzymes need support. 

Don’t know which digestive enzymes to take? Want a radical health makeover? Check out the program I created, REVITALIZE YOUR HEALTH now. One of the things you get when you enroll is a package with 7 supplements formulated by master nutritionist, Dr. Ann Gittleman. These supplements are designed to boost your digestion and get rid of trapped toxins. No matter what your health goals are, I can design a program that’s tailored for your needs!

Until next time,

Jenna Witt, NP

Author

  • Jenna Witt

    Jenna Witt has been a Nurse Practitioner since 2012. After working for five years in primary care at a Federal Qualified Health Center (FQHC), caring for the uninsured and underinsured, in 2016, Jenna began working in the local ER in Northeast Nebraska. Jenna has also earned a Master Certification in Health Coaching through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute. She is also a certified Functional Medicine Practitioner, an integrative form of medicine that seeks to unveil the root causes of health concerns and disorders. In 2020, Jenna founded Fundamental Wellness. Her emphasis is helping those with emotional eating, blood sugar management disorders, chronic pain, and low energy. Through her skills as an integrative health expert, Jenna helps her clients optimize their nutrition and sleep, learn simple stress management techniques, and identify which movement/exercise program is best suited for them. Jenna is currently welcoming new clients, which she sees at the Diabetes & Wellness Clinic in Norfolk, NE.

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