If you often feel uncomfortable after eating, or lie awake at night because your body’s struggling to process your evening meal, you know how much digestive issues can affect your life. It’s not only physical. Persistent discomfort can have an impact on our mood, restrict our social lives, interfere with relationships and affect our mental health.
Issues that persist or cause pain should always be discussed with your doctor. But you can also begin to experiment with natural ways to help your body at home. Learning about how dietary choices, herbs, and lifestyle changes affect the way your body processes food is an empowering way to take control of your health.
There’s a lot of knowledge out there to be gained. But if you’re not sure where to start, start here: with three simple steps to improve your digestion naturally.
Get to know your body and the foods that work best for you
There’s no one set diet that works for everyone. We’re all made a little different, and nutritional needs — and what makes us feel healthy and vibrant, versus what makes us feel uncomfortable and unwell, varies from person to person. This can feel daunting — because if there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to health, how can you possibly know what to eat and what to avoid?
Start with awareness. Instead of overhauling your entire diet all at once, keep eating as you are and make a note of when your digestive issues play up, and what you ate in the hours beforehand. Then you can try cutting out one thing at a time to see if it helps. Make a note, too, when you feel good and what foods seem to contribute to that. When you know which areas of your diet are working for you, you can use that as inspiration to add more variety of foods that support your digestion.
Awareness isn’t often prioritised when it comes to dietary habits in our culture. We’re pushed to count calories and commit ourselves to extreme diets that end up causing even more problems for our bodies. But as simple as it sounds, the practice of noticing the relationship between what you’re eating and how you feel is absolutely central to creating an eating style that makes you feel good.
If all of this feels like too much to manage on your own, treat yourself to a Nutritional Consultation with one of Zen Maitri’s herbal medicine specialists. We can help you get to grips with your digestive challenges and build an eating plan to support your health.
Experiment with when and how much you eat
Our experts don’t only look at what you eat — they also take into account the habits you have around eating. This is something you can start to do for yourself, too.
Take a week or two and note down every time you eat a meal or a snack, and how much you eat in each sitting. Again, note when your digestion feels uncomfortable or painful in relation to those meals, and when it feels good.
Use this insight as a starting point to adjust your eating habits. If you always get indigestion after you go to bed, adjust the time of your evening meal — often, eating earlier in the evening helps. If you regularly feel unwell after lunch, or at any particular time of day, think about whether the timing or quantity of food you ate might be playing a part.
Include drinks in your note-taking as well. How much water do you consume? Are you having sugary drinks or caffeine?
Try replacing coffee or milky tea with our Digestion Tea, and any soft drinks with fresh water. They may not seem like much, but these small changes can make all the difference in the function of your digestive system.
Incorporate herbs that support healthy digestion
Don’t underestimate the power of medicinal herbs and spices to support your body’s natural processes.
Cardamom, commonly used in Indian and South Asian cooking, actually provides incredible relief for our digestive systems. It may be a spice, but it has cooling properties that balance acidity, and it is used around the world to ease gastrointestinal issues including nausea, spasms and stomach pain.
And then there’s the humble dandelion: did you know that the root of this common plant can relieve constipation and stomach aches, and is thought to improve appetite? This is because the root stimulates the bitter taste buds in the mouth, increasing the secretion and flow of digestive enzymes and bile. Another often overlooked garden herb, chamomile, is often used to ease symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome and can help to manage symptoms of acid reflux.
Adding the right herbs to your diet, learning how to prepare them, and knowing how to take them in the right quantities - Well, it can be confusing. To make your life easier we recommend our high-quality, natural Digestion Supplements. They contain stomach-soothing goodness from all of the plants above and a few more, including Cinnamon and Meadowsweet.
Digestion doesn’t happen in a vacuum
Finally, it’s worth pointing out that digestion — and digestive issues — aren’t independent of the rest of your body and life.
Your digestive health is intricately connected with your lifestyle, emotional wellbeing, and stress; as well as with the food you consume. If you feel like you need extra support to kickstart your health and get your head around the issues you’re facing, a holistic Health Consultation with one of our medical herbalists will take into account not only the symptoms you have, but a broad range of dietary and lifestyle elements. You’ll be supported and listened to, and given the tools — and the clarity — you need to start your journey to natural health.