Small Changes, Big Results for Troubled Digestion - Part 1

Drink plenty of fresh water to help your system do its job

Feeling like your digestion is slow and sluggish? Maybe it just doesn’t seem to be working properly? Have you been wondering why you just can’t seem to lose those last few pounds no matter what you do?

There are some small changes you can make that can have a big impact on your digestive function. First up: what are you drinking?

Fluid Intake

If you live in Colorado you already know it’s high and dry. At a mile above sea level and relatively low humidity, it’s easy to get dehydrated and it’s likely that you may need more than 8 glasses a day. Drinking more water can increase metabolism and promote weight loss, increase the flushing of toxins from the body, improve your complexion and prevent muscle cramps and sprains. Also keep in mind that not all fluids provide your body with the hydration it needs – I’m looking at you, coffee, soda, black tea and alcohol!

Warmer is Better

The lining of your digestive tract is made up of smooth muscle fibers that churn the food and liquid you ingest, then separate it and take it where it needs to go. Drinking a big glass of ice water, especially right before or during eating, can cause the smooth muscle tissue to contract and constrict the blood vessels that help your stomach lining function. This can increase the time that food stays in your stomach, and slow your digestion. Drinking warm or room temperature water means your body doesn’t have to work as hard to warm the liquid, because it is already closer to your body’s temperature. This small change lets your body get right down to work digesting your meal. It will also make it easier for your body to absorb the water itself, so you’re more likely to feel hydrated. Don’t like the taste of water unless it is icy cold? I recommend investing in a good water filter, adding fresh, natural flavors to your water (i.e. lemon or fresh mint), or drinking herbal teas (with no caffeine).

Making the switch

Get a glass bottle. This doesn’t mean you need to spend lots of money on the latest and coolest. Any glass bottle or jar will do as long as it has a tight seal, doesn’t smell like spaghetti sauce or pickles, and you can hold it easily in your hand. Stainless steel is also a good option. Fill it up and bring it along everywhere you go!

Side note: I do not recommend relying on disposable plastic bottles of water unless absolutely necessary. Not only is it costly for you, it is terrible for the environment. Even re-using these disposable bottles can be detrimental to your health, as many water bottles contain BPA, which is a chemical that leaches into water, especially when exposed to heat or UV light. For humans and for planet Earth, less plastic is always better.

If you need a cover to protect your glass bottle, get crafty! I’ve seen tutorials for making them out of paracord; I made one out of an old busted bike tube by slicing it in to rings and weaving them together. The possibilities are endless.

Give it a chance

When I recommend a lifestyle change like this to patients, I encourage them to try out the new behavior for at least 2-3 weeks. Your digestion might not respond overnight, so give it time and observe how you feel along the way. You may find that slowly but surely, you start to see big results -- just by making a small change.