How To Improve Your Digestion In The Summer Months
Summer can be a challenging time for people who experience chronic digestive issues, because painful bloating and stomach distention are hard to hide in swimsuits and summer attire. As someone who advocates for body positivity, normally I would say “who cares if you’re bloated, wear that crop top anyways!” Or, “every body is a bikini body!”.
But I also know from first hand experience that for chronic sufferers this is about much more than just vanity. The pain of chronic digestive issues, or even the fatigue that can come along with them, are often much worse than the desire to have a flat stomach. These symptoms and conditions can often leave you curled up in bed when you’d much rather be outdoors enjoying the gorgeous weather.
Plus, the warmer weather in the summer months actually weakens our digestive fire and can exacerbate many already frustrating symptoms. And you might have some seemingly healthy habits that are making the problem worse without knowing it. So what can you do? I am going to break down a few of my top tips for improving your digestion in the summer months. And remember, everyone’s bodies work differently, so take the tips that resonate with you and leave the rest!
Eat melon in the mornings. If you are anything like me, one of your favorite parts about summer is all of the delicious fresh fruit. I especially love getting melons from the local farmers market. And who doesn’t love some refreshing watermelon at a summer picnic? Well I have good news and bad news. The good news is that melon is incredibly hydrating and nourishing for our intestines. The bad news is that it doesn’t play well with other foods. Because the sugar in melon is digested more quickly than almost any other type of food, it needs to be eaten on an empty stomach or you risk digestive upset. So if you want to enjoy your favorite melon this summer (which I do highly recommend! My favorite right now is Canary melon), then eat it in the morning on its own, at least 30 minutes before you eat any other types of food.
Stoke your digestive fire. According to Ayurvedic science, our digestive fire, or ‘agni’, is naturally lower in the warmer summer months. Low or weak digestive fire can cause bloating, gas, indigestion and constipation. So if you are already prone to these issues, I recommend being proactive when it comes to stoking your digestive fire. To do this, Ayurvedic nutritionists recommend drinking a summer elixir of room temp water, cloves, cardamom, and raw honey. Simply mix about 1/4 tsp of each spice and your desired amount of honey into a glass of water and enjoy! I like to make this elixir once in the morning and once again in the afternoon. You could also make a big bottle’s worth and sip it all day!
Chill out, but don’t chill your drinks. Hydration is incredibly important for keeping things regular and helping our body’s natural elimination process occur. And in warmer weather, you may be tempted to drink ice cold beverages for refreshment. But the unfortunate truth is that cold beverages actually put our digestive tracts into a state of contraction and shock, so they don’t do their jobs properly. If our intestines are constricted when they are supposed to be digesting, it can cause gas, bloating, indigestion and stomach pain. So skip the ice and drink your water, and all other beverages, room temp or warmer. I know it’s not as fun, but I promise it is a worthwhile lifestyle change!
Get your probiotics from the farmers market. Summer is an incredible time to take advantage of locally grown produce If you live in a place that has year round markets, you’re at even more of an advantage! By consuming locally grown organic produce, you are also consuming lots of beneficial bacteria that will support your microbiome. The healthy bugs from the soil that those fruit and veggies grew in is great for your digestive health as well as your immunity. So load up your reusable bags with fresh goodies, give them just a light rinse at home, and enjoy!
There is so much that you can do on a daily basis to support your gut health. I always say that it all comes down to our habits. Seemingly small practices can make all the difference when it comes to your health. As a holistic nutritionist, I recommend that everyone takes the time to assess which habits in their life are working for them, and which ones might be working against them. And it’s ok if your habits change with the seasons too! Now get out there and enjoy that sunshine :)
PS...if you are looking for more guidance on how to improve your gut health or chronic digestive issues, join my email list so you can be the first to get a copy of my upcoming Holistic Habits For Gut Health program!