Sep. 15. 2016
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of NS and Creator of The Method

Most of my clients have some digestive issue when they first come to me, whether it’s constipation, abdominal discomfort from IBS or gas, or simply feeling a little bloated after a meal. No matter the severity of the issue, there are 5 simple steps you can take to help your body digest food better and improve digestion. So if you’re looking for some tummy SOS, you’ve come to the right place today!

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How to Improve Digestion

No. 1

Chew your liquids, swallow your solids. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but the best and most elementary way of improving your digestion today is to make sure you’re chewing your food well enough that you can swallow it like a liquid. Chewing your liquids also activate digestive enzymes in the mouth to prepare your stomach for absorbing all of those amazing whole food nutrients! It seems simple, but many of us are so quick to eat and hardly take the time to chew food thoroughly.

No. 2 

Add raw apple cider vinegar to your meals. Raw apple cider vinegar contains live bacteria (i.e. probiotics) due to its fermentation process, which is a good thing for our digestion. It’s also an acid which can help improve digestion for those who tend to have lower stomach acid (which isn’t a good thing, we need acid to help break down our food). Try adding a splash (1 tablespoon) to a salad dressing, to grains, etc. for the health benefits but also delicious zingy flavor.

No. 3 

Fiber. Fiber, especially from vegetables, takes us longer to chew which helps stimulate our digestive juices and enzymes so they can get to work! Fiber, amongst many things, is also a cornerstone for our health, especially when it comes to digestion since it adds bulk to our bowel movements. Adding bulk is important for staying regular and provides our guts with a hefty dose of prebiotics (i.e. food for the good bacteria in our guts). Also, it takes longer to chew fibrous whole foods which can help us space out the time we’re eating – see No. 5 for more on this point!

No. 4 

Get bitter. Consume bitters that help stimulate gastric movement (i.e. digestion) and juices like acid to help break down food, ultimately helping our body absorb more nutrients. Besides digestifs like ginger, cinnamon, artichoke, garlic, and other warming spices/pungent compounds, my favorite bitter to add to meals is in the form of a spray. More on bitters in another blog post coming soon!

No. 5

Go 80/20. Meaning, don’t eat food until you’re 100% full, leave a little room in your stomach so it has the space to churn and mechanically (and enzymatically) break down food without you feeling “stuffed”. Often times I find my clients are so hungry that they’re eating too fast, which means they’re not chewing well. They’re then overeating and causing digestive issues after meals. Being mindful while eating, taking pauses, and making sure your food is chewed well can help tremendously with preventing you from eating to 100% fullness.

Do you…

Do you ever suffer from digestive issues? What are they and have you tried any of these tips above to improve digestion? I’d love to hear them (and I know the NS community would love it too!). Share it below and share any digestive friendly meals you love on Instagram with #nutritionstripped so I can see em’ in action!

xx McKel

p.s. Do you need 1-1 support and a personalized meal plan to meet your health goals and feel amazing? Learn more about nutrition coaching with yours truly here. I’m accepting new clients in November!