Yes, you can learn to improve your digestion to both look and feel better.
Pooping is generally a pretty taboo topic. It’s not that it’s inherently evil (Taco Bell poops aside). It’s just that it’s, well, there are plenty of more appealing topcis for discussion. But we all do it–even if none of us like to talk about it very much.
While we don’t have to talk about it if we don’t want to, we do have to understand it as it plays a significant role in our overall health.
The gastrointestinal system represents a whopping 70 percent of the body’s immunity. That means, many diseases – some seemingly irrelevant to digestion — can be traced back to the gut. With that said, it’s clear why optimizing elimination is perhaps the most effective and immediate ways to improve physical and emotional health. My personal health motto is when in doubt, target digestion.
So, let’s talk about pooping, because, well, it matters.
5 Ways to Improve Digestion
1. Morning Abdominal Massage
You wake up in the morning. Before you go from horizontal to vertical, take a moment to assess how you feel. Stretch in place and try to sense where there is pressure in your lower abdomen. Your brain and gut have a direct connection: they speak to each other. Use this telepathic relationship to your advantage. Take a look at your abdomen and take a deep breath. Where is there more volume? Does the right side of your abdomen rise higher than the left? This is likely where matter or gas is being stored. Breathe deeply, relaxing your organs.
Taking note of what you see and feel, activate your digestive processes by administering this massage on yourself each and every morning:
- Lie flat on your back and take your right thumb and place it on your belly button. While the thumb is in place, take you right pinky and stretch it to the top of your hipbone, the bone that pops out as your lie flat. Find the exact point that is halfway between your thumb and your pinky – this is where you cecum is. The cecum is where the small intestines join the large intestines, and it is where your poop begins to form. Waste matter is released from the small intestines as a liquid, and as it travels clockwise, up toward your ribs, to the left along the bottom of your ribs, and then down to the left hipbone, it solidifies.
- Put pressure on the halfway point between your thumb and pinky and massage in clockwise motion. This is meant to activate your colon muscles and help jump start elimination.
- Once you have massaged the cecum for a minute or two, begin to massage your lower abdomen, tracing the colon in clockwise motion. Do this for another minute.
2. Morning Water
Upon waking, drink as much water as your body can comfortably take. Water should be room temperature and plain, except for the addition of fresh lemon juice if you’d like.
Generally, you should drink water sensibly – not to fast – but in the morning, it is actually helpful to chug your water quickly, allowing the aggression of the water to shock your system, activate digestion more forcibly, and help “push” matter through your body.
Addintionally, taking a probiotic in the morning may boost digestion particularly if you’v recently completed a round of antibiotics. A probiotic will flood your digestive tract with healthy bacteria, which are necessary for a properly functioning poop factory. Researchers found that the bacteria survived much better in the body when the supplement was taken a half-hour prior to a meal. But if your pooping regularly and healthily, you may not need the addition of probiotics at all. In fact, just eating naturally-fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, or kimchi may be enough.
It may seem counterintuitive to turn upside down when you want to eliminate waste matter out of the other direction, but inversions actually help to improve digestion. All day, we are weighed down by gravity and this pressure can keep things stagnant in the digestive tract. By doing a head stand or lying in a position in which our legs are elevated about our heart, we relieve the tension in the gut. This yogi-approved practice is simple, but effective. Try it out and see for yourself — just make sure you do it on an empty stomach!
4. Light to Heavy Eating
Imagine following a greasy, heavy burger with a light salad. Your body wants to digest the salad quickly, since it is so light, but the dense burger is in the way. While the salad waits to digest, it ferments, creating gas. This leads to bloating and stunted digestion. If you had eaten the salad first, there would be a swift, easy digestive situation, in which the salad had a change to digestion quickly and efficiently, making way for the harder-to-digest burger afterwards.
Try to start light in your food choices and add the heavier foods after (it’s why salad usually comes first at a meal).
5. Enemas and Colonics
For many, enemas and colonics are part of a healthy lifestyle. For many others, though, they are too extreme and invasive to even try. Colonic irrigation can be a safe way to improve elimination by allowing water to enter the rectum and reconstitute and release impacted matter. Consult with your physician before trying a colonic or enema.
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Belly Image from Shutterstock