7 Ways to Improve Digestion

Seven Unusual Ways to Improve Digestion Naturally

Do you struggle with digestive issues? Statistically, many of us do, and there seems to be an ever-growing array of over-the-counter help to improve digestion.

Many people just assume that poor digestion is normal… but is it?

How to Improve Digestion

Personally, I’ve noticed a big change in my own digestion since transitioning to a healthier lifestyle, and the change has been most profound for our son who struggled with allergies (and who had a complete turnaround thanks to the GAPS diet).

The 7 things that I’ve found most helpful for helping avoid digestive issues like bloating, heartburn, indigestion, flatulence and more are:

1. Start Consuming Bone Broth

Delicious Homemade Bone BrothBone broth is an incredibly nutrient dense food and it is also very inexpensive to make. Broth is packed with minerals, gut-soothing gelatin and amino acids proline and glycine. Broth’s natural gelatin content helps sooth the digestive track and improve nutrient absorption. Our children get bone broth from a very early age, as it is also a great natural source of minerals.

Here are instructions for making your own broth or stock at home.

If you aren’t able to make broth, another option (though not quite as good) is to supplement with natural gelatin powder which will confer some of the same benefits.

2. Improve Bathroom Posture

Squatty Potty for better digestion and health- weird but it worksTurns out our bathroom posture may be causing more problems that we realize. There is increasing research (and age old evidence) that squatting to use the bathroom is not only more efficient and more natural, but also helps avoid common digestive disturbances (and even bigger problems like hemorrhoids.

To fix this problem, it seems we simply need to adopt a more natural squatting position instead of the sitting position many of us use today. While squatting on the actual toilet seat is one solution, I personally don’t recommend it if you are pregnant, have balance issues, or simply aren’t already a very strong squatter.

At our house, we have a Squatty Potty in each bathroom as a simple way to improve bathroom posture (and a great random conversation starter with visitors!). If adding a piece of bathroom furniture isn’t your thing, a couple of small upside-down buckets or a regular stool will work almost as well.

3. Optimize Magnesium

How to make your own magnesium oil to improve sleep and reduce stressEver since it helped me avoid morning sickness while pregnant, I’ve been a magnesium evangelist, but it is also helpful in digestive health! I’ve gotten many emails from readers who were low on magnesium and who noticed digestive benefits when they started consuming enough magnesium.

From a previous article: “Magnesium is the eighth most abundant mineral on earth, and the third most abundant in sea water. More importantly, it is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and it is necessary in over 300 reactions within the body.

Magnesium isn’t just abundant in the body, but vitally important too. As this article explains:

Every single cell in the human body demands adequate magnesium to function, or it will perish. Strong bones and teeth, balanced hormones, a healthy nervous and cardiovascular system, well functioning detoxification pathways and much more depend upon cellular magnesium sufficiency. Soft tissue containing the highest concentrations of magnesium in the body include the brain and the heart—two organs that produce a large amount of electrical activity, and which can be especially vulnerable to magnesium insufficiency”.

Easy fix: start consuming magnesium or using a magnesium skin oil to boost your levels. Many people notice an immediate digestive difference (though if really loose stools occur, reduce the dose and work up slowly). Taking magnesium and salt baths is another great (and relaxing) way to up magnesium levels.

4. Up the Probiotics

7 Ways to Improve DigestionThe human gut is teeming with bacteria, and this is vitally essential. Unfortunately, if the balance of beneficial and harmful bacteria in the gut gets tipped in the wrong direction, a lot of digestive disturbances can follow.

We don’t take many supplements regularly but a high quality probiotic is one supplement that everyone in our family takes daily. We also consume fermented foods (see below) but adding in a high quality probiotic has made a big difference in digestive health for us.

Another great way to boost beneficial gut bacteria and improve digestive health is to consume fermented foods or drinks regularly. These are an excellent source of probiotics and enzymes and can help nutrient absorption. In combination with a good probiotic (see above) fermented foods and drinks can make a big difference in ease of digestion and avoiding bloating.

Start with some easy homemade recipes like sauerkrautkombucha or water kefir and branch out from there.

5. Move More

wellness mama barefoot runningExercise is important on many levels, and it certainly aids proper digestion as well. The mixture of movement and gravity helps food travel through the digestive system and frequent low-level activity like walking is an excellent aid to digestion (and much more!).

The sedentary modern lifestyle of sitting all day puts a kink in the digestive process and makes normal digestion more difficult. Easy fix? Walk a few miles at a comfortable pace each day! Bonus points if you do it as a family or with your significant other and get some quality time too!

6. Eat More Fat!

Advice is often given to avoid fat and protein when constipated and up the fiber (the FIBER!!!). Turns out, fiber can be very hard to digest for some people, and that it can contribute to additional gut problems. Guess what is slippery and does help things glide right along? Yep… FAT!

Especially those who struggle with constipation can benefit from adding a lot more fat (from good sources) to the diet. Fats we consume regularly are coconut oil, grass fed butter, animal fats from healthy sources (including lard and tallow), fermented cod liver oil (excellent source of fat soluble vitamins and Omega-3s) and olive oil (never heated). The fats we don’t consume ever? Vegetable oils and margarine (here’s why).

Here’s one of my favorite ways to boost healthy fat consumption.

7. Improve Your Posture

Just as bathroom posture affects digestive health, so does posture when sitting or standing. Optimally, we’d all be walking/moving more and sitting less, but since that isn’t always possible, it is important to have good posture so digestive organs can work optimally.

If you haven’t focused on your posture much, this is a great article about the basics of proper squatting (see #2 again too!) and using these same methods, a person can sit and stand in a way that is more beneficial for digestion.

Have you ever had digestive troubles? What helped you? Share below!

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Reader Comments

  1. For me, exercise, especially long run and weight training works magic. Eating strawberries and kales is big help, too. Eating more fat, this is new but makes total sense. thanks for sharing.

    • I am on a plant based diet, whole foods, and I’ve increased my fat intake recently. And I have noticed exactly that – my digestion has improved, my stomach is flatter and I feel more satisfied. Right now, I eat as much as fats as I crave them and when I crave them. Avocados, hummus (home made), and very little of healthy oils. No fried stuff, of course.

  2. When is the best time to take a daily probiotic? Before bed? In between meals? With food or empty stomach?

    • I take first thing in the morning and before bed, both on empty stomach…

    • Also you can make your own sauerkraut and eat it with meals as salad or in soups. Sauerkraut (home made) or raw that you can buy in Whole Foods has more probiotics than pills and is cheaper. I make my own sauerkraut and kombucha. Very easy and about no time to make both.

  3. When I was researching fiber in an attempt to make sure we were getting some, I learned that there are two kinds of fiber. One acts like a squeegee on your stomach and intestines, which is where everybody is getting this “eat fiber to poop” thing, but the other sits in your stomach giving you the feeling of being full. In fact, fiber cannot be digested by humans, and simply goes in one end and out the other without providing any kind of nutritional value. In researching which kinds of food have which kinds of fiber, I realized that most people eat the kind of fiber that just sits in your stomach.

  4. Fermented foods and drinks were a great help to me, as well as liquid ionic minerals. I also noticed a big difference since doing the gelatin with hot tea at bedtime. The thing that helped me the most was cleansing. Helped my body to not have to digest, still get calories and eliminate all the back up 🙂

  5. I know that sea salt has magnesium but we just have himalayian pink salt in our house is that just as beneficial or should I be getting sea salt instead?

      • Real salt from our domestic primeval sea in Utah…sea salt has to be washed and the crystalline structure important to the way your body uses the salt is lost.

  6. Ever since starting this new diet with more fat and protein and no grains I have been more regular but I have had raging heartburn. I finally couldn’t take it anymore because the heartburn was so bad it was causing chest pain and started taking a proton pump inhibitor which I don’t like doing. Should adding a probiotic help with the reflux?

    • Yes it should, also Nopal cactus juice helps with heartburn a great deal! My boyfriend and I completely eliminated our reflux using the cactus juice, about a spoonful each meal. It’s months later and I don’t even have to take it anymore, and still no reflux.

  7. This may be a silly question, but why do you specify that the olive oil is never heated? I do most of my cooking with olive oil right now.

    • Because olive oil loses its benefits once it is heated.

      • Not only do heated oils (except coconut) lose benefits they damage your body

    • I have heard this from several sources. I just cook with water, then add olive oil or pasture butter when serving the food. I don’t notice the difference in taste.

    • The chemical structure of olive oil breaks in high temperature and chemically it start resembling bad oils that clog arteries and create problems. Research short, mid, and long chain fatty acids and oils. Heat stable, and not etc. And you will find out. Different oils are differently digested – that it why it matters.

  8. I am really excited to try the water kefir. I have had digestive problems for a few years. All they have ever told me was to eat more fruits and veggies and more fiber. I eat a balanced diet the majority of the time and the more fiber i eat the more bloated and uncomfortable I am. I started eating a higer fat diet a few months ago and without realizing what was helping i became more regular. Recently i have moved and not been able to get back on track and was wondering why my digestion was so irregular again and i realized i have not been eating as much fat. Thanks for all the advice this was very helpful. I’m really excited to try Kefir i have never had it before.

  9. Oil for bowl movement is new info to me. I eat a lot of veggies, but less oil. But recently had bowel issues. After reading this, I added some ghee to my dinner and next morning it gave me a happy tummy 😀 Love your blog!

  10. My daughter has struggled with constipation all of her life. I took her to a chiropractor who recommended drinking aloe juice, to loosen her up in the same way fats do! Otherwise, I’ve heard all of the recommendations before 🙂 There’s a lot of good info in this article!

  11. Is this the protocol you use for a damaged gut also? I have intestinal worms. I need to fix the damage in my gut caused by myself(I absolutely DO NOT do well on grains) & my intestinal invaders. I need to heal my gut while also making it an inhospitable environment for the nasty invaders.

    • You might want to look into Pumpkin Seed Oil. I’ve heard that can help with intestinal worms.
      Good luck and I hope this helps!

  12. Hi,

    I am new to this site, and making lots of notes. I noticed on 7 ways to improve digestion, that actually #4 is left out, so there are only 6 listed. What is #4?

    Thank you

  13. I’m so glad this series has been helpful. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  14. I grew up in India. and those days (they still exist 100% in rural areas) and some in cities, the old type toilet. We have to totaly sqat and sit. Now a days after copying western life style, they have potties at home but in rural India, it is still total squatting position. Which gives pressure on your tummy and helps smooth bowel moment. Even for earting food, they sit down folding both legs on the floor. Again lot of western fashion poeple have dining tables. But in rural India they still sit down on the floor folding both the legs and eat.