One of the first things I’ll ask patients about when they complain of low energy is their digestion. Why? Because our energy depends on how well we digest and assimilate the nutrients we need from food. At the most basic level, there is no other way for us to gain, and thereby create energy, other than from the food we eat.
We’ve been conditioned to think that we can throw anything we want down the ol’ piehole and expect our digestive systems to just deal with it.
Poor digestion equals poor energy creation. Digestion itself is a highly energetic process. Think about it. When we eat that food, we must expend energy to break it down into its basic building blocks before we can assimilate them. This takes a lot of energy!
So how can you improve your digestion, so that you’ve got more energy? Here are a few simple steps:
1. Eat real food.
Please don’t ask your body to perform on anything less. What is real food? Any kind of plant in its original form, and minimally processed animal foods.
2. Minimize your fluid consumption before, during and after meals.
Most people are used to taking a bite, then a swig of some fluid. The problem with this is that you’ll actually dilute your digestive juices if you keep adding fluid into your stomach. Your stomach is a churning pit of hydrochloric acid. If you dilute it, your body has to work harder to secrete more of this and other enzymes to digest the food. If you stop throwing water on the fire, you’ll have a much better chance of it getting lit!
Drink no more than 6 ounces of fluid with, and immediately after your meals. You won’t believe how this alone can improve your digestion.
3. Do what your mom told you. Sit down, take your time, and chew your food.
Digestion begins in your mouth with chewing and mixing the food with saliva. If you cut this short, your stomach has to work even harder.
Also, when we’re eating and digesting our body favors a parasympathic state. This is basically relaxation mode, and our enzymes flow freely in this state. When we’re in fight or flight, such as driving down a highway, stressing out and barely chewing a burger before swallowing it, the last thing our body wants to do is deal with digesting something.
4. Consider supplementing with digestive enzymes to get things back on track.
If you get immediate bloating, reflux or belching during or after eating, this means the food you’ve just eaten is sitting there rotting, rather than digesting. Eww. Taking a digestive enzyme at the start of a meal can drastically improve your digestion.
Notice I said digestive enzyme, not Prilosec or any other antacid drug. This is the first, and probably worst thing that doctors like to prescribe when a person has digestive problems. These will make things worse because they stop your acid production. So while it was inadequate to begin with, you’ve now just really cut it off. Avoid these meds at all costs!
Keep in mind too that not all foods, even healthy ones can be digested with ease by everyone. Lactose intolerance is common, but a person can have problems with any food, really.
Take a close look at what you’re eating and see if you notice any patterns with what you’ve eaten and how your digestion is. Avoiding certain foods that your body just doesn’t agree with can be a big help as well.
Doing these things can improve your digestion immensely. Once you improve the digestive process, I’m certain you’ll see a boost in energy!