Digestion is one of the most important functions of the human body. It affects many health markers, including athletic performance. Proper digestion can enhance performance, while poor digestion can hinder it. But it is something often overlooked. It can be affected by many external factors, so we should really keep our gut in check!
We don’t necessarily have to get a doctor appointment to do a quick evaluation of our digestive process.
How much water do you drink?
Do any particular foods irritate your gut?
How do you feel before and after meals?
Bloating? Constipation? How often?
How often do you go to the bathroom and what does it look like?
Over 60 million people suffer with some kind of digestive disorder in the USA. So if you are one of them, you are definitely not alone. The good news is that there are steps you can take, TODAY, to start improving your digestion.
But before we go there, we should look at how poor digestion affects your training.
Nearly all of your nutrient absorption occur in your digestive system. If your digestive system is not operating well, the nutrient intake is not happening at its maximum capacity. Many people only look at the nutrition aspect of “fueling the body”, but it doesn’t matter what you eat if you can properly absorb the proteins, carbs, vitamins, minerals and fatty acids in the food. Because of that, you should look at nutrition and digestion as two separate processes, even though they are closely related. The most you can make out of the food you eat, the best you are going to recover, re fuel and get those gains!
Now, here are a few things you can be conscious about to help improve your digestion.
Practice food hygiene.
Prepare your body for the food to come. Enjoy it, savor it and digest it. The number one reason why food isn’t properly digested today, is the way we eat. Food hygiene is fast, simple and effective. Just do it.
You will need a professional to check this, but it’s worth it. Your stomach should be highly acidic (1.5- 3) for optimal breakdown of food. It is easy to correct any imbalance and get a healthy gut flora and enzyme production.
You don’t want to fill up your stomach with “empty calories”, or food that’s low in nutrients. It’s a waste or space, time and process. Eat quality food so you can get the most out of your meal, as well as make the best choice for your health (and the world!).
Slow it down.
This is actually part of food hygiene, but it deserves a whole section. Repetitive intake of poorly broken down food can lead to serious health issues (foods that don’t settle well in your body can cause the same things). Leaky gut syndrome, bloating, dysbiosis and constipation can, in some cases, be avoided with proper food hygiene.
This should be a given. Stress is incredibly detrimental to the body, and we are exposed to a lot of it in this day and age. Imbalanced hormones, too much agitation and not enough calmness can all hinder digestion. Fight and flight vs rest and digest. Can’t digest if you are in a fight and flight state.
Take control over your digestive system and not only you’ll be healthier, but you’ll also get fitter in the gym!
by Coach Matt