Many people know that yoga has numerous health benefits. However, most people do not know that there are simple and easy yoga poses that can actually help improve digestion.
The overall point of yoga is to find a conscious balance in our lives and make everything we do sacred. Outside of the actual practice of yoga poses, this means to try and have meals in comfortable environments and to use food for its intended purpose: as fuel for the fire of our physical and spiritual transformation.
The average American consumes 12 grams of fiber per day. In 1850 the average consumption was 25‐30 grams, which is the same number that the American Cancer Institute recommends today. (Lipski 58) As the numbers illustrate most we are falling short of reaching optimal levels.
Before addressing how to increase your fiber intake, I want to explain the two different types of fiber and what roles they play in the body. Essentially, dietary fiber is the non‐digestible component of carbohydrates naturally found in plant food and is further broken down in the following two categories:
Soluble Fiber is made up of polysaccharides (carbohydrates that contain three or more molecules of simple carbohydrates), and it dissolves in water. Soluble fiber has the ability to bind with fatty acids and also prolong stomach emptying time so sugar can be released more slowly. This type of fiber helps to regulate blood sugar and also aids in lowering the total and LDL cholesterol counts. Soluble fibers are often viscous (gel‐like consistency). Some examples are: psyllium husks, flax seed, glucomannan, oat bran, dried beans and peas, fruits (apples, pears, citrus fruits, berries, apricots, prunes), and vegetables (carrots, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes).
Insoluble Fiber is mainly made up of plant cell walls, and it cannot be dissolved in water. Insoluble fibers move bulk through the intestines and also help to control and balance the pH of the bowel. The bulking action of insoluble fiber aids in alleviating constipation and also helps to sweep toxins out of the body. Insoluble fibers can be found in the following foods: vegetables, such as green beans and dark leafy greens, fruit skins and root vegetable skins, whole wheat products, corn bran, nuts and seeds.
Here are some ways to add more fiber to your diet. (Stick as close to nature as possible):
- Replace white flour products with whole grains.
- Consume at least 5 servings of vegetable and fruits daily.
- Switch from white rice to brown rice.
- Add beans to some of your meals.
- Take supplements, such as psyllium, flax seed or glucomannan.
Fiber even helps a person feel full. It can also aid in weight loss by stimulating the increased production of CCK (the satiety neurotransmitter) and reducing ghrelin (the hunger hormone).
Detoxification is a highly nutrient dense process. Not to be confused with intermittent fasting, detoxification requires the addition of whole foods, rich in vitamins and minerals to help repair your system while getting rid of toxins.
Our overall health is dependent on many things; many of them we think and know about – including getting enough sleep, feeding our bodies’ good food, making time for relaxation and not polluting our bodies with toxins and artificial chemicals.
However, one of the things that most people never think about as a major factor in our overall health are the trillions of microbes that live in our gastrointestinal (GI) tracts. In fact, researchers have shown that these beneficial bacteria – often called probiotics, as well as a steady supply of nutrients to feed them – called prebiotics – are absolutely essential for our long term health and vitality.
Gastrointestinal (GI) health is essential for overall health and well-being. The GI tract is responsible for not only the breakdown and absorption of nutrients from the foods we eat; it also plays a major role in our ability to rid ourselves of toxins (a process called detoxification) and comprises about 70% of our overall immune function.
One of the key players in these processes are the trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms that inhabit the GI tract – a system that is collectively called the gut flora. Keeping the gut flora in balance is vital for proper GI functioning, and one of the best ways to do that is to eat fermented foods that are high in probiotics.
You read that right – probiotics may help reduce stress, which can help you sleep better. “Impossible!” you say. “Absurd.” “Hooey.” – All common reactions, but hear me out on this and we may be able to change your mind (and improve your sleep!).