Holistic nutritionist Joy McCarthy teaches us the top three digestive issues, how to test if you're dealing with them, and the best ways to combat them.
Good digestion is truly the root of good health, says Joy. Digestion happens when food is broken down into its smallest parts in your gut. Those nutrients are delivered where they need to be to keep you energized, feeling sharp and feeling happy! Good digestion also ensures waste products are eliminated. When you don't have good digestion this can affect your energy, your mental health and well-being and even your immune system. Below are the top three digestive issues people deal with.
Many people suffer from heartburn and believe it's cause by high levels of stomach acid. However, what many find surprising is that most cases of heartburn are caused by low levels of stomach acid.
How you Test for High/Low Stomach Acid
First thing in the morning before breakfast drink one cup of water with a quarter teaspoon of baking soda. Time how long it takes you to burp. Ideally do this for four days in a row, as you are looking for a pattern. When you drink baking soda it creates a little chemical reaction in the stomach between the baking soda and stomach acid.
What Your Results Tell You
- Burp within two minutes: Adequate stomach acid
- Longer than two minutes: low stomach acid (the majority of people)
- Burp immediately: high stomach acid (very few people)
Best Way to Combat Heartburn
1. Freshly squeezed lemon and water
Lemon and water strengthens the digestive system, especially stomach acid. Joy's seen countless clients benefit from drinking lemon and water who suffer from heartburn. If they had high acid, the lemon and water would be bothersome, but because most people have low levels of stomach acid this remedy can be very helpful.
2. Practice food combining
Eat lightest to heaviest. For instance, looking at a plate of food you should eat the veggies first, then the carbs and lastly the heaviest part of the meal the proteins and fats. Try to avoid drinking liquids with foods as this dilutes digestive juices. Finally, avoid eating sugary foods like dessert or fruit immediately following a meal. This will ferment very easily in your stomach and cause heartburn.
Many people suffer from constipation and don’t even know it. Some people think long food transit times are perfectly normal.
How you test for constipation
To test to see if you are constipated you need to check your "transit time." You can perform a “transit time” test by eating raw or roasted beets (pickled beets do not work) at a meal and then checking how long it takes to come out the other end. You'll know when it happens!
If you see the beets within 12 - 24 hours then you’re okay! If it takes longer than this you are likely dealing with constipation.
How to combat constipation
1. Digestive Bitters
Take 30 - 45 drops three times daily in a little water on an empty stomach.They help speed up digestion by enhancing secretions of the liver, pancreas, stomach, and small intestine. They even act as enzyme catalysts, which improve nutrient absorption.
2. Dandelion Tea
Dandelion tea is rich in vitamin A, potassium, iron and calcium. Dandelion tea is extremely detoxifying and it will aid the body to eliminate toxins through your liver and kidneys.
Many people suffer from bloating, feeling full throughout the day and feeling bigger than they actually are.
How to Test for Bloating
This test is pretty simple. If you find that you wake up with a flat tummy and by 4 p.m. you have to undo the top button of your jeans, this is definitely related to digestion and you are bloated. If you wake up and your jeans are already tight, those are probably a few extra pounds and not bloating.
How can you combat bloating?
1. Anti-Bloat Tea
This tea is easy to make. Just mix together hot water, raw ginger, and lemon. Ginger lowers inflammation in the gut which can be a cause of bloating. Lemon helps to strengthen your digestive fire and get things moving.
2. Avoid Carbonated Beverages and Sugary Foods
Those bubbles from carbon dioxide make you bloated and burpy! Sugary foods like having dessert right after a meal ferment in the gut and cause bloating.