Do you often feel bloated, sluggish, tired? While there can be various reasons for such problems, chances are, there is an issue with your digestive health and your metabolism might be slowed down. So how to speed up digestion?
Your digestion is one of the most important systems in your entire body – it turns your food into your energy for the day, and makes sure all the essential nutrients are absorbed correctly. However, it is easy to underestimate just how crucial it is for your overall health. When your digestive process is healthy and functioning properly, your immune system will become stronger, you will experience increased energy levels, better mood, healthier weight loss and the list goes on!
For your convenience, we have compiled 16 tips on how to speed up digestion. Best part? All of these tips are very easily applicable to your lifestyle and they do not require any extra effort.
What are the signs of a struggling digestive system?
- Your stomach feels upset a lot.
That includes irregular bowel movement, bloating, chronic constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, gas, heartburn or irritable bowel syndrome.
- Your weight fluctuates
When your digestive system is weak, you can expect to experience unintentional weight changes. More often than not, you will feel as if it has somehow become easier to gain weight.
- You feel tired without a reason
A misbalanced digestive system can contribute to poor sleep quality, which can result in chronic fatigue.
- You are more susceptible to mood swings
Serotonin is a hormone that regulates your mood. Since the majority of serotonin is produced in your digestive tract, impaired digestion can cause problems with your overall mood.
What causes slow digestion?
While there are many reasons as to why you might be experiencing slower digestion, here are the most common causes of slow metabolism:
- Medical condition: above anything, your digestive issue can be caused by some pre-existing health conditions. Diseases such as gastroparesis contribute to slow digestion. There are various symptoms that you may experience if you have such a condition, so if you do suffer any of them – make sure to contact a medical professional. However, many people with gastroparesis are asymptomatic and don’t notice any visible signs of the disease.
- Frequent use of laxatives: if you are used to taking laxatives more often than most people, they can also contribute to digestive issues and, as a result, a slowed down metabolism.
- Aging: it is true that human digestion slows down as we age. Even though our digestive system function naturally slows down, there is no reason to get discouraged – after all, it is natural. And the good news is, there are ways to fix it.
- Stress: this is another factor that is commonly disregarded. Our digestion of food is largely compromised when we are under the effects of stress. Luckily, this is also a factor that you can fix. When stress isn’t a factor in our lives, not only our digestion process improves, but also many other aspects of our health become better.
- Lack of fiber: when there isn’t enough fiber in the food that is consumed, the main outcome is usually slow digestion.
- Excessive fasting and dieting: while a lot of us tend to resort to dieting and extreme fasting regimes in order to improve our health, sometimes the result is the complete opposite. Fasting is a very powerful tool, and when exercised correctly – it can yield amazing results and have great benefits to your health! The key here is balance. To learn more about fasting, visit “Intermittent Fasting 101”
Here’s a list of 16 best tips on how to speed up digestion:
1) Make sure you chew your food thoroughly
This is one of the best, yet the most overlooked tips on how to speed up digestion. Your mouth is the first step in your food’s digestive journey, it is the first place where it starts being broken down and prepared for your stomach. The more thoroughly you chew your food, the easier and faster will it digest. To help you with keeping track of how you chew, here’s a tip: try chewing your food at least 20 times before you swallow it. This tip will not only help you digest your food easier, it will also help you feel full faster. And what happens if you feel full faster? Correct, you don’t overindulge.
2) Keep yourself hydrated with a few extra ounces of water per day
Staying hydrated is a crucial element for your digestive functions. Being hydrated helps you produce more saliva, which eases the process of breaking down food while it’s in your mouth. Water also aids your digestion once the food is already in your stomach. Increased fluid intake also helps activate fiber, but we will get to that a little later. A few extra glasses of water here and there on a daily basis will ensure that you are well hydrated. Generally, it is a good idea to keep yourself hydrated and drink water, however, there are other options when it comes to staying hydrated – because, we can all agree, drinking plain water all day long is not too much fun. Try occasionally switching water for tea, green or black, the important part is that you try to add as little sugar as possible. Another good option is apple juice – the micronutrients found in apple juice help absorption. For best results, try diluting your apple juice with some water.
3) Eat healthy food for digestion
This is a piece of advice that is hard to beat. “We are what we eat” is a truth that has stuck with us for centuries. If you are looking at options how to speed up digestion, a good starting point is to try eating healthier overall. There are multiple diet plans that you could research on the internet and follow, but if you want easy, quick advice – try diversifying your diet with more leafy greens, fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and grains.
4) Practice mindful eating and avoid overeating
When you’re working towards a healthy digestive system, it is crucial to remember not to overeat. When you eat too much, you inevitably put a lot of pressure on your digestion. So another easy tip: avoid overindulging in food. When you follow all the other tips on this list, you will find that this one will come naturally to you. Even if you only make sure you take your time to chew your food thoroughly, you will already find it very challenging to overeat. Another thing you could do to avoid overeating, is paying attention to your body telling you that it’s full. Once you learn to distinguish when you feel full and stop feeling hungry, you will find it natural to stop eating once you’re full. You can also start a food diary to keep track of the food that you are consuming on a daily basis, thus avoiding overindulgence.
5) Establish an eating schedule
If you’re looking at how to speed up digestion, you can really help yourself out by establishing a regular eating routine with the help of a food diary.
According to research, your digestive system will perform faster and better if you schedule your meals and stick to that schedule. Just make sure you eat a certain amount of times per day and around the same times each day. This way, your digestive system will get used to that schedule and will process your food more efficiently.
6) Don’t be a couch potato! Exercise
This is a tip that never fails. If you’re trying to improve your gut health, you cannot go wrong with this piece of advice. Regular exercise is crucial to your overall well-being, and especially if you live a mostly sedentary lifestyle. In order to improve your digestion, you don’t need to overwork yourself by exercising relentlessly – gentle exercise can suffice. To give your digestion an extra boost, it is enough to go on a long walk some time after you eat.
7) Consume foods with high fiber content
Adding more high-fiber foods into your diet has countless benefits for your health. Firstly, fiber-rich food aids your digestion by regulating your gut’s microflora. Secondly, it aids to clean out your digestive system of any waste. Thirdly and lastly, it reduces your feelings of hunger. So, if you aren’t yet convinced that fiber will have a positive impact on your digestion – try it out! Bottom line, it will help you feel full for longer, which is always great if you’re trying to lose some weight.
8) Include more healthy bacterium into your diet
Perhaps the best advice you can receive on how to speed up digestion and improve the health of your digestive tract is including more probiotics (beneficial bacterium) into your everyday diet. You can get your daily dose of probiotics in a form of either supplements, drinks, or you could also include more probiotic-rich foods into your diet, for example fermented food. For a list of foods that are rich in probiotics, click here. After including more probiotics into your nutrition plan, you will be able to enjoy various benefits – improved digestion, faster and more efficient weight loss, improved immune system, healthier skin, hair and nails.
9) Get at least 8 hours of sleep
Another great, universal tip. If you want your weight loss results to be sustainable, never disregard the power of a good sleep. A restful night of sleep will not only improve your digestion, but also help you lose some weight. According to the Gastrointestinal Society, not getting enough sleep results in a 40% increase in your body’s cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone, one of the main hormones that slows your metabolism if it is produced in big amounts.
10) Avoid junk food
This could go without saying. If you are struggling with your digestive help, or simply looking to lose some weight, cutting out junk food and fatty processed foods out of your diet, you will see improvement in almost no time.
11) Cut off harmful, bad habits
The harmful habits in question are mostly just drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes. With alcohol, there are multiple ways how it negatively impacts your gut health. Firstly, it significantly impairs your ability to absorb micronutrients during digestion. Secondly, it also largely reduces the amount of enzymes (necessary for digestion) found in your digestive tract. Thirdly, it can negatively affect acid production, which is responsible for destroying harmful bacteria. Instead, aim for increasing your daily healthy fluid intake.
12) Go easy on dairy
Another thing to go easy on when you want to accelerate your digestion, is dairy. This is the food group that is very hard to digest, mainly because of high levels of lactose, high amounts of sugar and lactic acid in most dairy products. If you want to speed up your digestion, you might want to consider cutting down on the dairy products in your diet.
13) Include more whole, unprocessed foods into your diet
If you want to improve your digestion, you might need to reconsider your entire diet. For best results with not only improving your digestion, but also weight loss, consider replacing most products in your fridge with whole, unprocessed, real food. For ultimate results, it is important to make such foods the basis of your diet plan. For instance, opt for foods like vegetables, fruits, fish, eggs, some meats, seafood, herbs, leafy greens, nuts, whole grains, berries, legumes.
14) Avoid late-night eating
Another important tip – try not to eat before bed. That way, you give your gut more time to digest your dinner before you go to sleep. Eating before bed will cause your metabolism to slow down, so it is best to pass on a late night dinner. The body slows down it’s processes when getting ready for sleep, so eating during this time will make it harder for your body to digest.
15) Reduce the amount of red meats in your healthy diet
Another tip as to how to speed up digestion is reducing the amount of red meats in your diet. Meat, and especially red meat, is one of the most difficult foods for your body to digest, since the protein found in red meat is hard to break down for our body during digestion. So if you want to keep meat in your diet, which is highly recommended even when you’re trying to accelerate your digestion, then you should turn your attention to poultry. Chicken meat, for example, is one of the easiest meats to digest. For the healthiest option possible, go for grilled or oven-baked chicken.
16) Have some tea
Our final tip on how to speed up digestion is very simple: just have a cup of tea! This tip mostly applies to hot tea and other hot herbal beverages. An extra cup of tea a day will raise your daily fluid intake level, the warmth of the liquid will stimulate healthy digestion, while the herbs found in the tea will provide some extra nutrients and additional health benefits.
As you can see, digestion is one of the key functions in your body. It is important to take very good care of your digestive tract, since a lot of other systems in your body are heavily reliant on digestion. We hope that we have helped you learn how to speed up digestion and now you have all the necessary tools to improve your digestion.