How to Make a Happy, Flatter Belly

Flat belly (Photo credit: huffingtonpost)
Flat belly (Photo credit: huffingtonpost)
Flat belly (Photo credit: huffingtonpost)
Flat belly (Photo credit: huffingtonpost)

How to Make a Happy, Flatter Belly
By Nadine A Douglas

You may be asking what a happy belly is… A happy belly is one which has good digestion as this helps your body absorb nutrients from the food that you eat effectively. According to Dr Susan E Brown, a Medical Anthropologist and a New York State Certified Nutritionist from the University of Michigan, having a happy belly is also better for a range of other bodily functions including increasing the health of your bones. An unhappy belly or having poor digestion is likely to lead to bloating, cramps, nausea, flatulence and even heartburn. Providing you don’t overeat you should be able to digest most foods with very little hassle which ultimately makes a happy belly.

Many people do not include chewing as part of digestion but it is a very important aspect of the process. When trying to achieve better digestion, it is important to chew your food thoroughly before swallowing as the increase in saliva which results from this produces more digestive enzymes earlier on in the gastrointestinal tract. In addition to this, it is also advisable to reduce the size of food pieces and not to rush when eating. Rushing could result in your digestion process becoming stressed, which can cause the absorption and value of nutrients into your body, to decrease.

The University of Rhode Island recently conducted two studies which have provided additional insights into the role that eating rate plays in the amount of food a person consumes. Kathleen Melanson, Associate Professor of Nutrition at the University of Rhode Island, found that slimmer people (people with a lower BMI) tend to eat slower than heavier people (people with a higher BMI). Also there are gender differences as men tended to consume more calories per minute than women, suggesting that men generally eat faster. “One theory we are pursuing is that fast eating may be related to greater energy needs, since men and heavier people have higher energy needs,” says Melanson. When subjects in the study were given whole grain cereals and whole wheat toast, they consumed their meal significantly slower than subjects that where eating a similar meal of refined grains. Whole grains are more fibrous, so you have to chew them more, which takes more time,” she says. This research has further confirmed the results found in Melanson’s 2007 study which confirmed the popular dietary belief that eating slowly makes you feel fuller for longer.

Below are some steps which could lead to better digestion:

1.) Eat Foods which are easiest to digest first – When eating you should start with the foods which are easy and then slowly work towards eating food which is more difficult to digest. Here are some examples of the time it takes for your body to digest certain foods:

a.) Water and Fruit Juices: approximately 20 – 30 minutes

b.) Vegetables, Fruits, Soups: approximately 35-40 minutes

c.) Beans, Starches, Grains: 2 – 3 hours

d.) Meat, Fish, Poultry: 3 hours or more

2.) Fermented foods provide probiotics which can greatly aid digestion. Some good examples of fermented foods are sauerkraut, natural (unsweetened) yogurt, pickles and fermented soy. A little organic honey or maple syrup can make a really good accompaniment to unsweetened yogurt.

3.) Probiotic beverages and foods are a good way of obtaining healthy bacteria in the stomach which aids digestion. Some examples are berries, garlic, honey, brown rice and bananas. Apple cider vinegar is also considered to be an excellent digestive aid by many alternative nutritionists. You can try drinking one or two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, diluted in half a glass of water. Try an unpasteurised and unfiltered version of cider vinegar drinking this before eating.

4.) Stick to your eating routine – it is important to eat at similar times of the day, each day. Eating similar groups of foods at specific times of the day gives your digestion process a routine, thereby aiding the process altogether as your stomach can almost predict your eating patterns.

5.) Be conscious of what you eat and avoid over-eating: Try to avoid eating too many foods which take a long time to digest. Be conscious of what you are putting into your body and try to eat more foods which aid digestion.

Over-eating is one the most common cause of indigestion. Dr Susan Brown, a certified nutritionist, says that our brain signals are slightly delayed when it comes to telling us that we are full. She goes on to say that the brain signal is about 10 minutes slower than what your stomach is actually feeling, so it is advisable to stop eating before you fill full as there is a good chance you will fill full about 10 minutes afterwards.

6.) Drink warm or hot beverages with your meal: Very cold drinks can slow down your digestive process so it is best to drink liquids which are warm or at room temperature. It is also best practice to drink liquids before you eat your meal.

7.) Don’t eat late at night: The digestive system slows down in the evening hours as we prepare to rest, when we eat food late at night there are not enough digestive enzymes to properly digest it. Undigested food can lead to bloating and will often disrupt your night’s sleep.

These simple self-help steps should hopefully resolve some of you digestive problems but if your symptoms persist then you should consult a doctor as there maybe a medical reason for your digestion problems. A certified nutritionist could also be consulted to advise you on foods which may help alleviate some of your indigestion symptoms.

Here’s to making your belly happy.

Until next time,

Nadine Douglas

To find out more about better digestion and other useful nutrition/lifestyle resources. Click here for your FREE report:

Nadine Douglas lost over 25 pounds after being overweight most of her adult life. She now runs a successful weight loss website which gives information about great resources which can help you lose weight and be healthy for long term success

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