Improving how you eat as well as what you eat can play a significant role in beating that bloated feeling. Take advantage of saliva and digestive enzymes to help break down food. Slow down when you chew, and don’t dilute saliva by drinking cold beverages when you eat. This will give digestive enzymes in the body a chance to do their best work. Try these four hacks from registered dietitian and nutritionist Amy Shapiro, founder of Real Nutrition NYC. She offers simple rules that help you promote an efficient digestive system.
1. Focus on food rather than drinks when you eat.
Limiting liquids during meal gives digestive enzymes in saliva a chance to go to work breaking down the food before it hits the stomach. Enzymes are not as effective when they are diluted by that iced tea you drink with lunch. Trade in that iced tea for a hot tea or room temperature beverage.
Warm liquids break down food faster as it moves through the digestive system. Speeding up digestion so that food does not become waste promotes healthier bowel movements.
2. Avoid foods that hinder digestion.
Digesting certain foods such as lactose and kale can be hard for some people. People who lack a certain enzyme might have a hard time digesting lactose, which is a sugar found in most dairy products. Zero calorie sweeteners that contain sugar alcohols can slow digestion. Kale is full of insoluble dietary fiber that is hard on the gastrointestinal system. Steaming the leaves can help soften kale so your body doesn’t have to work so hard to digest it.
3. Chew your food slowly.
Saliva contains digestive enzymes that kick-start breaking down food even before it reaches the stomach. Chewing slowly relieves the stomach from doing all the hard work of grinding down food. Eating too fast leads to swallowing often, and the excess air can cause bloating and gas.
4. Add these foods to your diet.
Add some digestive ‘fuel’ with fruits such as papaya and pineapple to get things moving. Their natural enzymes help the digestive system break down nutrients.
Peppermint and ginger also help with digestion by promoting the release of saliva, gastric juices and bile. These break down proteins in the gastrointestinal tract. Peppermint and ginger relax the digestive system and calm unnecessary muscle contractions.
Eating fennel seed and cumin prompts the liver to release bile that helps digest fats in the stomach.