Expert Tips to Improve Digestion

Say goodbye to heartburn and bloating by adopting effective practices to improve digestion

Ivey enjoys her digestive enzyme smoothie. Photo by Nathan Coe
Ivey enjoys her digestive enzyme smoothie. Photo by Nathan Coe

Indigestion is nothing new. We’ve all experienced this vexing stagnation in our digestive tract at some point in our lives, whether through heartburn, bloating, or constipation. Certain foods and bad habits such as smoking might increase these symptoms and make them chronic. The solution? Adjusting your diet and breaking unhealthy vices. With the right mindset, you can take positive steps toward reviving a sluggish digestive system. But to understand what your body needs, it’s best to familiarize yourself with how your digestive system breaks down what you eat.

This process begins with the body’s production of digestive enzymes, proteins that help break down food and allow for nutrient absorption. Digestive enzymes are naturally found in some foods, as well as within saliva and the pancreas, gallbladder, and liver. There are three primary digestive enzymes: amylase, which breaks down carbohydrates and starches; protease, which breaks down proteins; and lipase, which breaks down fats. 

As we age, our ability to produce these enzymes decreases. Processed foods like dairy, sugar, grains, and refined oils also impede natural enzyme production. Luckily, with a few dietary and lifestyle changes, you can give your digestive system the tools it needs to function properly. Read on for more tips and recipes. 

Pouring the digestive enzyme smoothie. Photo by Nathan Coe
Photo by Nathan Coe

Practices to Improve Digestion

Consume foods with natural digestive enzymes: Incorporate mangoes, bananas, papaya, pineapple, bee pollen, ginger, avocados, fennel, and raw, unfiltered honey into your diet. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, pickles, miso, and kimchi also add enzymatic value to meals.

Opt for natural remedies: Mix a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into a glass of water first thing in the morning to jump-start your digestion. Ginger can also proactively decrease indigestion, so incorporate it into your food or steep it as tea. Roasted dandelion tea and fresh peppermint tea can reduce bloating, and fennel has long been used to treat indigestion; try adding it to your salads or chewing on fennel seeds to relieve an upset stomach.

Follow a low-sugar diet: A low-sugar diet can minimize the risk of developing inflammatory digestive problems and alleviate constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and acid reflux. Substitute high-sugar, processed foods with whole foods such as fruits
and vegetables.

Chew and eat slowly: Digestion begins before the first bite, and salivation and chewing stimulate production of digestive enzymes. When you eat slowly, your body can better digest your food, and it has more time to signal to your brain feelings of fullness. 

Foods that Impede Digestion  

Fried foods: Avoid foods rich in unhealthy saturated fats like refined seed oils.

Carbonated water (in excess): Club soda, seltzer, and sparkling water are made by infusing water with carbon dioxide under pressure. That gas can get trapped in your digestive system, which can lead to bloating. 

Artificial sweeteners: Not only do artificial sugars cause bloating, gas, and diarrhea, but they can also degrade the gut lining. 

Dairy: Most people do not produce enough of the lactase enzyme required to digest dairy, resulting in gas, bloating, and diarrhea. 

Digestive enzyme smoothie. Photo by Nathan Coe
Digestive enzyme smoothie. Photo by Nathan Coe

Digestive Enzyme Smoothie 


  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup pineapple, diced
  • 1/2 cup mango, diced
  • 1/2  avocado
  • 1 tbsp. grated ginger, or a cubic inch of peeled ginger
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. raw, unfiltered honey
  • 1 tbsp. hemp seeds
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 tsp. bee pollen

Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until the consistency is thick. Pour the smoothie into a tall glass and enjoy. 

Digestive tea. Photo by Nathan Coe
Digestive tea. Photo by Nathan Coe

Digestive Tea


  • 1-2 inches ginger 
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp. raw, unfiltered honey (optional)

Peel the ginger and cut it into thin slices. Place the ginger slices in a mug and fill it with boiling water. Let the ginger steep for 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and honey, if desired. 

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