To get the most out of any detox it is vitally important that we start with ensuring the proper functioning of the gastrointestinal system. If the gut is not breaking down food well, assimilating nutrients and eliminating wastes efficiently- toxins can be produced and sub-optimal health results. In doing this, we need to not only make healthy food choices to assist gut cleansing (and what these are can vary depending on individual needs), but we also need to look at the way we eat.
Improving the Way You Eat
In my many years as a practising Naturopath, I would have to say that most people I meet have digestive complaints whether it’s bloating, flatulence, constipation, heartburn, reflux, indigestion or even sometimes something more serious such as Inflammatory Bowel disease. Many have experienced these symptoms for so long that they consider it to be normal and never think of doing anything about it.
Laxatives or antacids are part of everyday life for many. These people often don’t realise however, that sometimes these digestive complaints they have are really easy to address if they look at modifying “how” they are eating. The efficient breakdown and assimilation of nutrients as well as the elimination of wastes are in my opinion the most important bodily processes for optimum health.
Sarita’s Top Tips for Proper Digestion
Don’t Overeat: Never eat until you have a “full” stomach. The breakdown of food and assimilation of nutrients is a lot more efficient when we eat small amounts of food more often.
Chew Your Food: It is essential that food is chewed properly in the mouth, as this is where digestion starts. Saliva (an enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates) that is produced in the mouth needs time to act on carbohydrates in food. If it hasn’t had time to, it creates a bigger task further along the digestive tract.
Don’t Eat when you are Stressed: Digestion is best when eating in a relaxed environment. When we are stressed, our body puts all its energy into dealing with this and digestion becomes secondary. If we eat during these stressful times, food can sit and ferment in the gut and cause symptoms, such as bloating and flatulence. If you need stress support consider our Calming blend.
Drink Water Away from Meals: Although it is common practice in many restaurants to be given chilled water before a meal (in Australia anyway), it is not at all recommended for the proper breakdown of food and assimilation of nutrients. Drinking chilled water not only dilutes your digestive secretions, it causes contraction in the digestive tract, thereby weakening digestion. It is far more beneficial drinking water that is either warm or at room temperature 20-30 minutes away from meals. Instead of water at meal times, herbal or green tea is a great option, or anything that has a bitter taste that will help to stimulate digestion. My favourites around meal times are Digest and Oolong tea.
Include Bitter Tasting Foods and Drinks in your Diet: The bitter taste in foods and drinks stimulates the secretion of digestive juices in the digestive tract. Some bitter tasting drinks that can assist with digestion include: plain lemon/lime juice in water; lemon, lime and bitters; or BBTC’s Green, Oolong, Dandylicious or Digest tea.Following is a list of common bitter foods that are recommended to include in your diet, the majority of which exhibit other flavours too:
Bitter greens- endive, rocket and radish leaf
Rye, amaranth and quinoa
Citrus and citrus peel
Avoid Drinking Iced Drinks and Cold Foods and Include Warm teas: Cold foods and drinks cause contraction in the digestive system, reducing the secretion of digestive juices. As a result, food can be left to sit and ferment in the gut without it being broken down by digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid. This can be a contributing factor to symptoms such as bloating, flatulence and constipation. My favourite BBTC teas to include in your diet include the following-: Digest, Oolong, Dandylicious, Ginger Zing, Spice Dream and Chai.
Avoid Eating Late at Night: Our digestive capability is greatest in the first half of the day from 5am until 3pm and lowest at night when many of us in Australia have our largest meals. It is much better for us to eat larger meals earlier in the day when our bodies will break food down and assimilate nutrients more efficiently. Eating late when the digestive secretion are low means that food can sit and ferment in the gut and cause symptoms of bloating, flatulence and a “heavy” or “groggy” feeling the next day.
Aim for a Balanced Diet with both Raw and Cooked foods:If you have weak digestion, it is best to include both raw and cooked foods in your diet. An emphasis on just raw foods can weaken digestion even further and lead to many other signs of deficiency and ill health. Warming methods of cooking, such as baking or stewing, where the food takes a long time to cook, can help to support digestion as the breakdown of food is easier and absorption of nutrients more efficient.
Use Aromatic Herbs and Spices in your Cooking:If you have weak digestion, using aromatic herbs and spices in your cooking can help to stimulate digestion. The smell and taste can help to stimulate appetite and the secretion of digestive juices, making the breakdown of food and assimilation of nutrients more efficient. Beneficial culinary herbs to support digestion include rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano, black pepper, marjoram, cumin, fennel, paprika, chilli, garlic and ginger. Some BBTC teas with warming aromatic spices that can support digestion include ChaiGinger Zing and Spice Dream.
Include Fermented Foods in the Diet:Foods such as Kombucha, Kimchi, Sauerkraut and miso are all fermented foods that contain high levels of pre and probiotics that help to promote good bowel health. Check out our Kombucha recipe here.
4 Top Teas to Detox
Herbal teas are a fantastic way to help hydrate, cleanse and support the body on a Detox. Some of my favourite herbs to support digestion and gut health on a Detox include-:
Peppermint- helps to relieve intestinal gas, bloating, flatulence and indigestion. This is a key herb in BBTC’s Digest.
Fennel- helps to increase the secretion of digestive enzymes, thereby helping with the breakdown of food in the gut. This is a key herb in BBTC’s Digest.
Chamomile- helps to ease pain associated with digestive disorders such as colic, reflux, flatulence or irritable bowel syndrome- as it helps to relax the smooth muscle in the gut. This is a key herb in BBTC’s Digest.
Lemonbalm- is a “carminative” herb meaning it can relieve stagnant digestion, ease abdominal cramping and promote the overall digestive process. This is a key herb in BBTC’s Digest.
Dandelion- helps to improve appetite, soothe minor digestive ailments such as nausea, and possibly relieve constipation via its mildly laxative effect. This is a key herb in BBTC’s Detox and Dandylicious.
Cinnamon- helps to provide relief for indigestion, flatulence, heartburn, stomach cramps and nausea and in more recent research has been shown to have an action to protect the integrity of the gut lining. This is a key herb in BBTC’s Detox and Dandylicious.
Licorice- is used to soothe and heal the gut lining in cases such as stomach ulcers, colitis and heartburn. This is a key herb in BBTC’s Detox.
To make it easy for you I have put together the Byron T-tox pack that contains my top 4 favourite teas for Detox including the ones mentioned above to support digestion and promote gut health.