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According to Elizabeth Lipski – an expert in the field of digestive wellness – “healthy digestion is the seat of total health”. Indeed, our digestion must be optimal in order for the nutrients in our food to be metabolically useful. 

Various factors contribute to digestive insufficiencies (e.g. chronic stress, smoking, infections, exposure to toxins, lack of exercise, medications, alcohol, and genetics). However, here are 10 practical nutrition-related steps that you can take to enhance your digestion and nourish your digestive tract.

1.  Eat in a calm, relaxed setting. This will help to activate your parasympathetic nervous system which facilitates nutrient absorption. Eating in an unhurried manner also stimulates digestive secretions in the mouth and stomach and improves the awareness of satiety. 

2.  Chew your food well. This signals the stomach to prepare for food entry; generates saliva that initiates starch digestion; allows one to absorb more nutrients and energy; enhances dental health; reduces the risk of food putrefying in the intestines; and intensifies the food’s flavors and sweetness. 

3.  Add cultured and fermented foods (e.g. unsweetened yogurt, lassi, kefir, buttermilk, tempeh, kimchi, sauerkraut, and other fermented vegetables) to your diet. Benefits of these foods include access to important nutrients such as vitamin K2 (which reduces the risk of arterial plaque buildup and heart disease), immune system support, detoxification, and the proliferation of a wider variety of beneficial gut flora. 

4.  Eat sulphur-containing foods (e.g. arugula, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale). These support liver and gallbladder function, and help suppress cancer cell growth.

5.  Get an adequate amount of fiber (35-50 grams per day). Fiber helps to regulate the digestive system. Fiber-rich foods include legumes, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.

6.  Adequately hydrate to provide the body with water for digestion and absorption, facilitate bowel movements, and help to remove waste. Drink pure water, diluted fresh vegetable and fruit juices, herbal teas, and homemade broths.

7.  Soak grains, beans, and legumes for at least 8 hours prior to cooking. These foods – as well as nuts – contain natural nutritional inhibitors that interfere with the function of digestive enzymes. Soaking allows germination to begin, causing the inhibitors to be deactivated and making the foods easier to digest. 

8.  If you are plagued with poor digestion, consider the principles of food combining when planning your meals. Food combining ensures that your food goes through your entire digestive system with ease. The 3 principle rules of food combining are:

    i.   No proteins and starches at the same meal.
    ii.  No fruits and vegetables at the same meal. 
    iii. Eat melon alone. 

9.  If applicable, reduce your consumption of added sugars (i.e. processed sugars including white sugar, enriched sugars, and synthetic sugars). They upset the balance of healthy intestinal flora and feed pathogenic bacteria. 

10. If you have food sensitivities, avoid culprit foods. Continuing to ingest such foods will exacerbate digestive challenges, prevent the digestive tract from healing, and put the immune system on chronic high alert. 
Bon appétit!
Mel est bonum; sic est doctrina

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