How we eat is just as important as what we eat. Chinese Medicine has some very helpful and effective tips for promoting proper digestion. Along with a proper diet and regular exercise, these simple changes can improve your energy and promote a healthy digestive system.
For thousands of years, our ancestors relied primarily on the sun for light. Most activity stopped as the sun went down. Though our world has changed, our bodies haven’t. The digestive hormones are only released during daylight hours. Therefore, anything we eat after sunset will digest slowly because the hormones and enzymes needed for proper digestion aren’t being released. Try to eat dinner before seven, and cut down on any snacking at night. Eat a big breakfast and lunch and a light, early dinner.
Make Sure You Chew
It is surprising how often we swallow a mouthful of food after just barely chewing it. We should try our best to chew each bite at least 20 times. Our saliva has an enzyme called amylase which breaks down carbohydrates. It is the only place in the digestive system where this enzyme appears. It is necessary to mix the food we eat with our saliva to promote healthy digestion. Also, the more we chew, the less work the stomach has to do. Chewing more is also scientifically proven to make the brain think we have eaten more than we actually have.
Traditionally, throughout the world, salad was seen as a side dish and not a whole meal. Chinese Medicine recommends eating either lightly sautéed or steamed veggies. Raw vegetables can be difficult to digest. Slightly breaking the molecular bonds by warming up the food primes our food for the digestive system. Though some nutrients are lost in the cooking process, what remains will be completely absorbed. With raw vegetables, a portion of what we eat just passes through without being absorbed.
Eating in a Relaxed Mood
Everyone has had the experience of getting knots in their stomach when they are stressed or anxious. We all know that our stomach doesn’t feel good when we’re upset or stressed. None the less, we often eat in a rush between appointments or even driving in our car. We might watch a dramatic show or the news of the day while eating. Instead, try your best to be in a relaxed, calm mind set while having a meal. I recommend setting aside at least an hour for digestion. Having a meal with family is best.
Drinking warm or room temperature water
During the summer months, we often crave an ice cold drink to cool us down on a hot day. Though it feels good with each gulp, that cold water actually harms the digestive system. Cold water causes the blood vessels in the stomach to constrict, greatly impeding digestion and even the absorption of the water itself. Also, the intense cold forces the body to compensate. Instead of gaining energy from the food we eat, the body expends energy to warm the stomach. Even in summer, try to stick to warm or lukewarm water if you want to treat your digestive system well.