We are at a festive time of year where we tend to overpower our bodies with sweets and family recipes. Luckily our digestive fire tends to be stronger this time of year, but it is wise to be extra mindful of our digestive condition and help it do its thing in the midst of overload.
I have had my fair share of digestion issues ever since grade school, and I’ve spent my life trying to find some methods to its madness. The following tips are a few things I’ve used over the years to combat my own IBS-like symptoms and what I’ve seen help a lot of my clients with their issues.
Tune Into Your Rhythms
I’ve spent the past few years really jiving with the idea of tuning into natural rhythms and cycles. With our modern culture, it’s become so easy to have whatever whenever, thus reducing the need to pay attention to what old mother nature is doing.
But if we are spending our days doing whatever whenever, totally out of any regular flow or rhythm, how do we expect our bodies to function otherwise?
If we want regularity in our digestion, we have to have regularity in our lives.
One of the best therapies for my digestion frustrations was adding regular structure to my days. Waking up around the same time, eating around the same time, going to bed around the same time. I’m not perfect at it, but even making small adjustments over time has helped in a huge way.
This one is easier in the winter, so yay, but it’s very important to nourish your digestion with warm foods and drinks. I’m not going to touch on nutrition too much since that is not my area of expertise and is so different for everyone, but the temperature and state of your food does matter.
Cold and raw foods are harder to digest. Drinking ice-cold beverages makes your tummy work harder, too. But warm drinks and slightly cooked foods give your tummy a jump start in the digestion process.
Don’t believe me? Try it out for yourself. Just with the temperature of your water. For the next few days, only drink room temperature or warm water with your meals. See how it makes you feel.
I’m at the point where I really have a hard time with ice-cold water. It jolts my system to the point where it’s really not enjoyable. Sometimes it’s nice, but for the most part, I can’t do it. And my stomach is thankful for that!
And also, drink LOTS of water. Duh.
Daily Tummy Rubs
Have you ever had your abdomen massaged? Most people haven’t. It’s one of the areas people, including massage therapists, neglect when addressing body pain. Abdomen massage is a big part of the bodywork I do, and I’ve seen amazing things happen with my clients because of it.
Our abdomen muscles do A LOT for us. And they protect and are connected to our digestive organs. If our core muscles are weak, tight, and dysfunctional, they can negatively affect the digestive functions.
Take a moment to rub your tummy. Go ahead a feel around your entire abdomen. Chances are you’ll feel some tender spots. Surprise! This is done best when laying down, but when you feel a tender spot, pause on it. Gently press on it as you take some nice deep breaths. Do that for about 30 seconds and release. It’s even better if you put a heating pad on it first.
Making this a regular practice, even if you don’t have tender areas, is really beneficial. Move around in a clockwise motion to encourage the direction of digestion.
Treating trigger points in the abdomen could be the missing link in curing your digestive issues. It is a necessary complement to any dietary treatment. Working these points can also help relieve lower back pain. Yay!
When In Doubt, Yoga It Out
Yes, yoga really can be a remedy for most of life’s woes, including digestion! Therapeutic movement can loosen up any tension and discomfort in and around the digestive organs, allowing them to breathe and function properly.
Some poses to consider are twists, gentle inversions, and gentle backbends.
You can read my article on twists HERE or Yoga Journal has a great index of poses for digestion HERE.
So give these tips a whirl and see what happens. Some of them can help right away and some of them need some time for their magic to sink in.