8 Tips and Tools to Aid Sluggish Digestion

Bloating. Gas. Constipation. Hard stools. Distended stomach. Food sensitivities. Feeling like you can’t eat anything anymore…

Just a few of the digestive troubles that plague those of us with hormonal imbalances. It is one of the many unpleasant side effects I’ve found of having ammenorhea, but also sufferers of PCOS, dysmenorhea, premenopause, etc etc might feel the same. Our hormones control every bodily function, including digestion, so when one is out of whack, there goes the other and vice versa.

I’ve gathered all the tools and tricks in my current digestion arsenal to share with you all, and hope I can help you achieve a little bit of relief! Keep in mind that every body is different so what works for me may not work for you. Keep experimenting and trying different products til you find your thing! I still consider myself in the experimental stage, but then again aren’t we always with these ever-evolving bods?

1. Give your body enough time to digest between meals.

I have noticed for me personally, having more smaller meals throughout the day works best. It seems that when I have a larger meal, or two meals too close together, it feels like things get a little, backed up, if you catch my drift. My stomach needs time to digest and send along what is there before I can top off the tank again.

This also goes for giving enough time between dinner the night before, and breakfast the next day. Typically, I am a fasted morning cardio girl, saving my first meal for post workout. This way for me  it feels like I am emptying out any left over stores from the night before and getting my digestion and metabolism revved and ready to receive some food! Also, if I end up having a late dinner or snacking later at night, I may wait longer the next morning before eating something to leave more time to digest what I ate the previous night.

2. Take Digestive Bitters before meals.

This is the newest addition to my digestive help team. As in, I’ve only been using it for a few days, but it seems to be helping so far! The only hard part is remembering to take it in its recommended dosage, 30 minutes before meals. Usually I am halfway through inhaling lunch before I remember. Oops. But when I do remember, I seem to have much less bloating and discomfort post-meal.

Right now I am trying this one I purchased from Vitacost.com based on the reviews and affordability. But feel free to try any brand! 

3. Take Digestive Enzymes after meals.

Specific enzymes help to break down the proteins, carbs, and fats from the food we eat, and help our tummies do their job! So far I’ve only tried these chewable papaya flavored enzymes, again from Vitacost, with good results. But I want to try out different brands once this bottle is empty.

I try to pop 3 after every large meal, 1 or 2 between meals to tame bloating, indigestion, or sometimes they can help you “go” too! I’ve also been known to pop them like candy when I am mindlessly sitting at my work desk (which may or may not be a good idea…).

4. Do your cardio!

I know, some people are just cardio haters, but I LOVE it! If only for the way it makes me feel. And I’ve noticed a huge difference in digestion and bowel movements on the days that I get my heart rate up. Any way you like to move it, and it doesn’t have to be running if you hate running. Just any way you want to move your bod and break a sweat, even if just for 15 minutes. I always like to mix it up, between jogging, walking, cycling, elliptical, HIIT… never get bored and the rotation prevents overuse injuries. Plus my knees can’t take running 2 days in a row, so it’s good to give them a break.

5. Essential oils

I’ve been using essential oils for years, but just recently joined as a Wellness Advocate with doTERRA. I have been having so much fun playing with the different oils and really feeling their effects on my body. I am a believer! There are lots of oils that aid specifically with digestion, such as Fennel, Ginger, and Peppermint. doTERRA even makes an awesome blend called DigestZen. I like to rub a few drops of this or diluted peppermint directly onto my tummy to ease bloating, and to help move things along. 

I also had great results taming heartburn just by rubbing a couple drops or Digestzen and Lemon oils onto my chest over the sensation. It subsided within minutes and I was amazed!! Love having these natural little powerhouses at my side. You can experiment with any EO’s but my preference is doTERRA, they are pure and natural with no nasty chemicals! (Disclamer: I do earn commision if you purchase the doTERRA oils through my online store here, at no additional cost to you. But I really do love these oils!!)

6. Do yoga poses to aid digestion.

There are a few yoga poses that have become my go-to’s when experiencing tummy troubles. Any twists are great, but I’ve found reclining twists to be particularly effective, and more gentle when things aren’t feeling so good. Bringing one or both knees in as close as you comfortably can towards your chest before twisting can really give your digestive organs an extra squeeze of love! I’ve also been giving my tummy region a gentle massage while laying on my back, or a nice rub in a circular clockwise motion. 

Prone positions like cobra, bow, or even just laying on your stomach if those are too intense, can give a gentle “push” to the contents of your belly.

7. Drink plenty of water.

Like, lots and lots of it. Like, way more than you think you need. Even though I was getting the daily recommended amount of water each day, I found that it still wasn’t enough (again I’m thinking due to the hormone stuff). I now aim for about a gallon per day (not including liquids from food) and it seems to be a good number for me. Play with it and see if more water might help you.

8. Experiment with your diet.

Like I said at the beginning, every body is different. There is no one diet that works for every person in the world. I should know, since I think I’ve tried everything! Start to notice how you feel after eating certain foods to fight what works and what doesn’t. Maybe consider doing an elimination diet just to get a good idea of which foods you are sensitive to. For me, I know that things like gluten, peanut butter, dairy and too many grains/flours tend to gum up the works. And too many nuts and nut butters will leave my tummy in pain. Just become more aware of how your body reacts to the meals you are consuming every day, and go from there.

I’m sure I will think of more things to add to the list soon, so I will add more as I come up with them!! 

What tips or tricks to you have to aid digestive troubles?