Digestion issues can be annoying and embarrassing. Whether it be your stomach talking, gas or having to run to the bathroom, it can really disrupt your day. Some have major issues that have built up over the years. Most people don't realize that their digestive health has led them to other major health issues. Many doctors and health care practitioners believe that the heart of good health starts with our digestion.
The majority of Americans will overeat at Thanksgiving. Ninety-five million of Americans complain of some sort of stomach upset and we wonder why? First and foremost, it could be because we are not listening to our bodies. We've suppressed those signals that tell us what we need to do in order to have proper digestion. I am definitely a believer of everything in moderation. Although each of our digestive needs are different. Each of us may need to gravitate towards certain foods and diminish or avoid other foods based on what our bodies need. The good news is we can do some simple steps to improve our digestion and build our systems stronger.
Keys to digestive wellness
• The first is to listen internally to your hunger signals. Eat when you are hungry and stop when your satisfied. That means stop when you feel the first feelings of fullness. Another part of looking internally is to be aware of what foods may make you feel worse after eating them. If certain foods are upsetting your digestive system it is best to avoid them. Although avoiding them may not be enough. If you think you have a food allergy then it is best to contact a health provider who tests for food allergies.
• One of the best things you can do for yourself after a big meal is to walk. The Chinese practice this regularly. It opens up the digestive system to work properly. If you have eaten too much, and have stomach pains, the simple thing is to walk around for about 10-15 minutes to relieve the pain. It works rather quickly and could be a great practice to do after your biggest meal of the day.
• There are some who suffer a very slow digestion and really need the extra help with the proper digestive enzymes. There are many to choose from. I always suggest a plant based enzymes with probiotics. This can make a huge difference in digestive health and may be all a person needs to get better. One observation I have seen is that those who are overweight don't have a strong digestion. Working with their digestion could make a huge difference in not only their wellbeing, but also their weight loss efforts.
• In the past our foods had lots of probiotics. Our preserved foods naturally had these good bacteria in them. So our bodies for generations have had these wonderful organisms. It has only been in the past century that bacteria seemed to become the enemy. Antibiotics in not only our medicine but our foods have caused a great imbalance internally. Now we know better and can offer good suggestions in both foods and supplements. Miso soup and Kefir are my favorite probiotics food selections. It is my belief that along with a good whole food multi everyone should be also taking probiotics. Even children do really well on these supplements. Each person is different in their needs for this supplement. Taking one a day may not be enough. A good natural medicine practitioner can help you find your needs for not only the type of probiotics, but how much you may need.
• Let's say you find yourself eating too much for the holidays. There is a great formula that we as acupuncturist nickname "The Thanksgiving Formula." Bao He Wan can help to relieve a full belly. This herb helps to relieve food stagnation and harmonize the stomach. It is in particular prescribed to those who have a tendency to eat too much, or a person who once in awhile likes to eat a big meal. I think it is normal to over eat every so often as long as we don't make a habit of it. It is still best to look inside for those internal signals, especially if you have issues with frequent overeating.
Part of having a happy safe holiday season is to take responsibility for our digestive health and well being. Don't ignore those signs your body is trying to tell you. Most importantly, enjoy yourself and all the bounty and blessings that are given to us.
Dawn Krueger-Sherin is an oriental medical practitioner in Ahwatukee Foothills. For questions, reach her at www.acupointehealing.com.