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A Simple, Holistic, and Practical Guide to Healthy Digestion

Ashton August
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I recently had the pleasure of attending a half yoga class, half lecture on the ins and outs of digestion. Kathryn Budig led the yoga, and local nutritionist Suzanne Farrell led the nutritional lecture. As yogis, we are all aware of the plentiful health benefits that come with a consistent yoga practice. And as humans, we are all aware of how important digestive health is to our bodies, our days, and our lives overall.
 
As someone somewhere has probably been quoted to say, if you don’t have your digestive health, what do you have? And as the saying that we all know goes, you are what you eat. Let’s take a closer look at how yoga and nutrition interplay with and directly impact your digestion.
 
First off, here’s a brief overview of digestion. Do you know where the digestion process begins? That’s right – it begins in your mouth with the digestive enzymes that begin to break down food as you’re chewing. From there, the digestion continues in the esophagus before taking a trip down to the small and then large intestines. So let’s consider factors that can throw off your digestion during its process, along with ways to promote optimal digestive health.
 

1. Become Aware of Your Eating Habits

Rewinding the digestive process back to the first stage (the mouth), think about your general eating habits. Do you chew really fast? I’ll admit it, I’m 100% guilty of this. Do you walk around or stand while you eat, or try to multitask while eating?
 
If you chew really fast, or talk while you eat, you’re swallowing air along with your food. The result? Your digestion process is negatively impacted, leaving you feeling bloated, gassy, and uncomfortable.
 

2. Pinpoint Specific Digestive Issues

Think about feelings of being bloated, gassy, or having general discomfort after eating. These are a few symptoms that indicate you may need a change in your eating habits. How about heartburn or acid reflux? Nobody wants that! Often, sitting down to eat, and eating slowly, are two very simple solutions to digestive issues, so it pays to start there.
 
Also, certain highly acidic foods trigger a premature release of digestive acids (which turns into acid reflux), so if this is a problem for you, take into account the acidic foods you’re eating that could be the culprit.
 

 

3. Keep a Food Journal

All this talk about what you eat and how you eat it leads to a piece of great advice given during this lecture by the nutritionist: keep a food journal. Light bulb! Keeping a food journal for as little as three days can shed some serious light on which foods are your friends and which foods trigger digestive distress.
 
We come in contact with a lot of ingredients in a single dish, let alone an entire day or week of eating. Keeping a journal will help you narrow down which foods are causing which ailments.
 

4. Meet Your Best Friends in Healthy Digestion

Probiotics have been gaining popularity in recent years. We’ve heard how they help regulate the digestive process, and even help boost immunity. Well, the rumors are true! In addition, probiotics also aid in nutrient absorption, and let’s face it – you can eat all the healthy foods you want, but if your body’s not absorbing the nutrients, then what’s the point?
 
Gut microbiomes are also your friends – they help develop healthy gut bacteria and break down nutrients that the gut would otherwise be unable to digest. In addition to breaking down food, digestive enzymes are good for cardiovascular health and also aid in keeping the body running smoothly.
 

5. And Then There’s Yoga

Of course yoga plays a role in your healthy digestion! And a big role too. A consistent yoga practice will help streamline and synchronize the body’s various systems. More specifically, there are certain yoga poses that directly impact digestion in a good way. Feeling crampy or suffering from a stomachache? Put down the Midol and step away from the Pepto!
 
Instead, try a few yoga poses! Lay on your back and draw your knees into your chest for apanasana, or wind relieving pose (appropriately named). Twists are always good for digestive health because they help massage and rinse the internal organs, which equals major detox! Finally, the ultimate in digestive-aiding poses: malasana, or yogi squat. Why? Imagine the pose, revisit your potty training days, and use your imagination…
 
So there you have it, folks! A simple, holistic, and practical guide to healthy digestion. Food can be a great pleasure in life, and sharing it with dear friends and family is not something that should be interrupted with digestive discomfort. Take control of your digestive health and empower yourself through knowledge. And while you’re at it, go do some yoga!
 
To learn more about Kathryn Budig, visit her website: KathrynBudig.com

To learn more about Suzanne Farrell, visit: CherryCreekNutrition.com
 

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Ashton August

Ashton is a writer, yoga instructor and Editorial Director here at YogiApproved.com. If she's not bustin' out articles or producing YogiApproved videos, you can find her teaching Buti Yoga, hugging her puppies, or traveling the world with her beau. Follow her on social @ashtonaugustyoga

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