There are countless factors that affect digestion, a few of which are diet, food intolerances, stress, adrenal burnout, hormones, lifestyle, emotional disposition, anxiety, chemicals, parasites, bacteria, medications, relationships and sleep. All of these, if out of balance, can affect the state of your health and how your body functions. Combining an anti-inflammatory diet and a balanced lifestyle with restorative therapies will support your recovery and help get your gut in tip-top shape. Here are 13 tips to get you in the best gut health of your life:

1) Eat fresh and natural foods for maximum nutrition. Make sure the majority of your meals comprise of vegetables, salads and fresh whole fruits. Cooking from scratch is the best way to make sure you know exactly what is going into your body.

2) Take probiotics and/or eat fermented foods. Fermented foods are naturally packed with probiotics that promote healthy gut bacteria. Examples include kefir and yogurt, kombucha tea, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi and fermented vegetables. You can make a lot of these yourself! Look online for easy recipes to help your gut heal and thrive.

3) Drink lots of water! Aim to drink a minimum of 8-12 glasses a day. Water nourishes the digestive tract, supports the absorption of nutrients and removes waste and toxins.

4) Avoid processed foods that contain additives and chemicals, which can irritate a sensitive digestive system. These include foods high in preservatives, flavor enhancers (such as MSG), refined sugar, wheat, gluten and soy, artificial sweeteners, bulking agents, thickeners and gums. Examples include white bread, soft drinks (sodas), white flour, white pasta, processed cereals, processed meats, store-bought stocks, soups and salad dressings.

5) Slow down and relax when you eat and chew your food well to reduce bloating and incomplete digestion.

6) Incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables that are high in soluble and insoluble fiber into your diet. Fiber acts as a prebiotic and promotes healthy gut function. It also promotes peristalsis in the gut and aids in the elimination of waste.

7) Eat until you are only 80 percent full, which is a practice known as ‘hare hachi bu’, from Okinawa. Overeating can increase the pressure in the abdomen causing bloating, reflux, heartburn and delayed digestion. Also, avoid eating in front of the TV or computer. Studies show that when people are distracted while eating, they consume significantly more than when they are at a dinner table focusing on their food.

8) Avoid going to bed on a full stomach or lying down after eating. Give your body time to digest properly (i.e. try not to eat at least 3 hours before going to bed).

9) Stimulate your digestive system by introducing bitter foods into your diet that incite the digestive juices and cleanse the liver. Every day I enjoy the juice of one fresh lemon in two glasses of filtered water. This helps to stimulate the production of bile, which acts like a natural laxative and increases stomach acid allowing you to break down your food more effectively. Other citrus fruits, herbs and spices such as limes, grapefruit, dandelion, peppermint and ginger are also fantastic. Enjoy them every day for a happy digestive system.

10) Avoid inflammatory foods such as wheat, gluten, milk, refined sugar, alcohol and coffee, which can aggravate your digestive system and the healing process. If you love your morning caffeine hit, then swap coffee for green tea, which is loaded with antioxidants and kinder to your digestive system.

11) Get your body moving! Physical activity speeds up digestion, increases blood flow to all of your organs, and stimulates the muscles in the GI tract. It can even tone the walls of your colon. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.

12) Go green. Green juices and smoothies are alkalizing and packed full of essential nutrients for optimum health. Make a green juice or smoothie a daily habit. Cold-pressed green juices (such as wheatgrass) are rich in chlorophyll, which helps to alkalize the body and works as a natural anti-inflammatory. Chlorophyll also helps to nourish the digestive system, supports detoxification and the elimination of waste.

13) Get Adjusted! Regular chiropractic adjustments help the body synthesize and process foods, which then helps derive nutrition from the foods you are eating. Call us today at Chiropractic Family Wellness Center in Scarborough, Maine to have a spinal assessment and get your body healing right! (207) 883-5549.