Our body is a wonderful thing; it functions without us even having to think about it, from our heart continuously beating, to our lungs filling up with oxygen. The same goes for our digestive system – the whole complex process from the the food entering our mouth to being broken down, sifting out the needed nutrients and getting rid of waste – is something we don’t have to give a second thought to.
However, when this process is disrupted in any way, we can start to see and feel the consequences with one of the main symptoms being bloating around the stomach area. Most of us can identify with that uncomfortable tight feeling but what causes bloating? There are a few reasons, but one common cause is slow digestion.
How Slow Digestion Can Lead to Bloating
Our digestive system normally runs on a 24-72 hour cycle from the moment we get up in the morning and eat breakfast, all the way to dinner and going to bed. When this complex system is disrupted by being slowed down, excess gas is produced and trapped within the gastrointestinal tract.
Since the digestive process is not working at its optimal peak, symptoms can occur such as constipation, excess fullness due to the food sitting for longer at each stage of the digestive process, and of course, the tight, uncomfortable feeling that comes with bloating.
What Other Factors Lead to Slow Digestion?
- Not chewing food properly: we are told at a young age to make sure we chew our food properly. While many have taken this good habit into adulthood, many of us don’t always take the time to sit and chew food to a sufficient point where the food is broken down enough for our digestive systems to cope optimally. The enzymes in our saliva are there to be mixed well with the food ready to be passed on down to the stomach to start the process. By giving ourselves enough time to chew each mouthful, we are allowing the food to be in an optimal state to start being digested properly. In other words, your digestive system will not have a reason to struggle.
- pH value of the mouth: the pH level of our mouths are usually slightly alkaline so any increase in acidity or too much alkaline can cause the enzymes to become off balance. It’s important to be aware of the types of foods we consistently put into our mouths in order to keep the pH value at its perfect level.
- Temperature: some say the temperature in our stomach can slow down digestion, for example, when gulping down iced water but this hasn’t been scientifically proven. However, air temperature is thought to have an effect on our digestion so warmer climates encourage the blood vessels to open up and allow essential hormones to circulate more easily resulting in aiding body processes including digestion. Colder climates are thought to slow down the process but only in extreme conditions – either way it won’t hurt to be at a slightly higher temperature while consuming meals.
How to Boost Up A Slow Digestion
There are many ways to combat a slow digestion but it should involve consistent, healthy habits that allow your body to work at its optimum level. Here are some great habits to speed up digestion and combat that uncomfortable bloated feeling.
- Avoiding processed and refined foods: unnatural, processed and refined foods consumed on a regular basis can put strain on our digestion because the body takes longer to break it down.
- Drinking enough water: water is essential for an optimal digestive system and without it the body struggles to flush the intestines, soften stools and prevent constipation and bloating.
- Eating enough fibre: fibre is essential for digestion because plays a role in stimulating bowel contractions and moving food into the intestines. Without enough fibre in the diet, the digestive process starts to struggle and takes longer resulting in bloating.
- Regular exercise routine: exercise optimises the way our whole body works including the digestive system. By having a regular exercise routine you keep your digestion process flowing at a healthy pace.
While slow digestion is a common cause of bloating, it’s always advised to visit a doctor if you suffer from prolonged symptoms to rule out any other causes it could be. Living a healthy, active lifestyle will always go towards an optimum-working body so if you want to get rid of that tight, bloated feeling try picking up some of these habits and see if it makes a difference!