On Saturday, I led these awesome ladies through a series of yoga postures that promote healthy digestion – lots of twisting and breath work. I immediately knew I wanted to teach on digestion when I was planning this final “karma” workshop as part of my yoga teacher training journey. As someone who has struggled with a sluggish GI tract (slow digestion) for years – gluten intolerance, cystic acne, brittle nails, fatigue and frequent bouts of heartburn to name a few! – I was really excited to share the all natural remedies that have helped me heal my gut.
During the workshop, we talked about about natural remedies for healthy digestion, signs of poor digestion and the link between breathing and digestion. I made my healthy “tummy tonic” for them to sample and they loved it – even with apple cider vinegar (ACV) as the main ingredient!
The only feedback they had for me was that they wanted more of it all – more yoga, more conversation and more time in community. That makes me so happy!
Below are the notes from the workshop. I also talk more about my experience and results with ACV in this YouTube video.
Your digestive system is designed to break down the foods you eat into the nutrients your body needs to perform at its peak. However, many of us experience gas, bloating and irregularity that can be linked to inadequate nutrition, inactivity and stress (both good and bad!) This workshop helps you bring awareness to your digestive system to show your tummy some love through mindful movement and health education.
Warning Signs of Poor Digestion (that you might be ignoring…)
o Bad breath – This is not your typical morning breath, it’s bad breath that won’t go away with brushing or flossing. A fishy smell is linked to kidney problems. A fruity smell is linked to diabetes.
o Body odor – Foods that take longer to pass through your GI tract get expelled through your pores. The odor is most noticeable in people who consume large quantities of fatty foods and meat.
o Feeling tired after eating – You might feel sluggish after eating if your body is using all its energy to digest your food. Try not to fall asleep – instead, take a walk, try my “tummy tonic” and eat smaller, healthier foods at your next meal.
o Brittle (chipping, bending, dry, splitting, etc.) nails – Your nails reflect your ability to absorb and digest nutrients.
o Acne and skin conditions – What you eat and how your body absorbs and digests it tends to show up on your face. If you’ve been following my social posts, you’ve seen my journey from painful cystic acne to drinking ACV for clearer skin! Specifically, these vitamins are necessary for a healthy glow –
- Vitamin A to repair skin and boost immune function
- Vitamin K to prevent redness and speed healing
- Vitamin E to clear skin for a natural glow
*If your skin is flaky and dry, you might be struggling to digest healthy fats
o Yeast infections – Candida is a naturally occurring yeast found in your GI tract. We need certain levels but when there’s an overgrowth – caused by poor digestion, a diet high in saturated fat and sugar, drinking alcohol, certain birth control medication and high stress – it can lead to yeast infections. When your stomach acid is too low to fight off the overgrowth, you may suffer from chronic yeast infections that can only be remedied from the inside out.
o Joint pain – GI issues lead to inflammation, a common cause of joint pain. Many doctors are now linking Arthritis to poor digestion.
Causes of Digestive Upset – gas, bloating, constipation, pain and muscle spasms, etc.
o Starches like potatoes, corn and pasta – These foods contain resistant starch that isn’t always fully digested. Rice may be the only starch that doesn’t cause stomach trouble.
o Chewing gum and drinking through straws – These might cause gas and bloating as they pump air into your stomach.
o Fruits like apples, prunes, peaches and pears – These fruits contain sorbitol, which can cause stomach pain and stomach muscle spasms .
o Vegetables like onions, artichokes and asparagus – Like the fruits mentioned above, these veggies contain fiber that isn’t completely digested in the small intestine.
The Link Between and Digestion
Shallow breathing, where air is being pumped into your stomach and not your diaphragm, signals a “fight or flight” response to your body. In this heightened state, blood flow is pushed to your extremities (preparing you to fight or run) and away from your digestive tract, causing digestive upset.
This is why panicking and hyperventilating often makes you feel sick to your stomach and nauseous. It’s the difference between fight or flight and rest and digest.
Natural Remedies for a Happy Tummy
Water and fiber are two natural remedies you may already know. Stay hydrated to stay regular and eat a mix of fiber from veggies and grains to add bulk (insoluble fiber) and to help soften your stool (soluble fiber).
o Exercise daily – If you don’t do anything else, I recommend walking for 30 minutes daily. For exercise, try twisting movements and moving your body in different directions. We spend so much time moving in the same directions so sometimes all is takes is a little twist to get things moving…if you know what I mean 🙂
o Try coffee to relive constipation – Coffee is both a diuretic and a stimulant so adjust the caffeine per your tolerance.
o Try probiotics and eat fermented foods – probiotics are beneficial bacteria found in yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut.
o Try prebiotics – Prebiotics are a type of fiber that feed the healthy bacteria already living in your GI tract.
o Limit dairy – And remember, you’re not lactose intolerant, you’re just not a baby cow.
o Try an elimination diet – Sometimes you have to start fresh and cut out foods you suspect might be causing stomach trouble. Do a quick search of your symptoms and the foods that might make them worse. Start small. You might be surprised how a simple tweak makes a world of difference.
Happy Tummy Tonic Recipe
The recipe below is for a single serving. I made a large batch of this tonic for the workshop – 4 cups of water, 4 tbs of ACV, 2 freshly squeezed lemons and raw honey to taste. The large batch will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Or, you can make a fresh cup daily.
- 1tbs of apple cider vinegar with “the mother”
- 1 cup purified water
- Raw honey to taste
Other ingredients – fresh cut ginger, ginger water (putting fresh cut ginger in water), fresh lemon juice, sparkling water
Drink it –
o in the morning upon waking on an empty stomach
o before and after large meals
o at night to prevent digestive upset that can be worsened by certain sleeping positions
***The tea I passed out contains tummy-friendly ingredients such as fennel, peppermint, ginger, lemon and turmeric. These natural ingredients ease digestion, act as natural pain killers, are light diuretics, are antimicrobial and help relieve gas. I like the Tulsi and Pukka brands.
The Bristol Stool Chart is a great resource for checking your poop for digestive health.
“Quite literally, your gut is the epicenter of your mental and physical health. If you want better immunity, efficient digestion, improved clarity and balance, focus on rebuilding your gut health.”
– Kris Carr