6 Simple Ways to Increase Nutrient Absorption at Every Meal!

Science is finally beginning to understand and credit the profound effects of food on our physical body, mental health and disease progression like never before. Because of this, millions of people are taking control and altering the course of their health not with medications or surgeries, but with three very important decisions each and every day. This is truly a very exciting time. And I hope that you are one of those people.

So, after years of devoting my time to the study of how to eat optimally for health, and almost 4 years as a paleo pro…..I have come to a very important conclusion:

WHAT you eat is only one piece of the puzzle.  Another important, and often underrated piece, is HOW you eat.

Today, for instance, heartburn and digestive issues are rampant. Although, many have resigned themselves to the fact that digestive issues are simply part of life, I am here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way! In order to prevent digestive disturbance, the way that you eat, is just as important as what you eat. Your body can only digest food when you are relaxed. This doesn’t mean that your body prefers to digest food when it’s relaxed, it means that it is an absolute biological imperative that you are relaxed.  

When you are not relaxed, you will not digest.



(Feel free to skip this section if you’re not so interested in the “how” of this process)..

It begins with the autonomic nervous system. This system takes information from the environment and our senses and relays it to our brain so that we can react appropriately to whatever we encounter. There are two alternating branches of our autonomic nervous system, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS). The SNS is our “fight or flight” response that is activated in times of stress to help us fight or flee. The PSNS, is our "rest and digest" branch that becomes dominant in times of relaxation and promotes repair, detoxification, recovery and digestion.

When our SNS is activated, we cannot digest food. This is because in order to help prepare us for quick action, our body’s blood, enzymes and energies are diverted away from our core and to our limbs.  This makes sense because when there is an emergency, digesting a meal is truly a last resort.

The only problem is, the SNS is not discerning. Whether we are frustrated by bumper-to-bumper traffic or in the midst of a life-or-limb emergency, the SNS will be activated. Sadly, the chain of events that occur as a result of traffic-induced SNS activation will still severely disrupt the digestive process.

For anyone out there eating while stuck in traffic, you are in big trouble. Don’t worry, however, I was once guilty of this myself.

Fortunately, there is a solution.  In order for our body to digest optimally, we must simply activate the PSNS!  And while it may sound complicated, this can be accomplished simply by making mealtime synonymous with relaxation and pleasure.


So, today I want to share a few little tips for doing just that! Coming from someone who has suffered with digestive issues her entire life, these tips make a tremendous difference. Using them will help to shift your nervous system from stressed to relaxed in minutes thereby increasing nutrient absorption, preventing digestive symptoms and saving you money on digestive aids. I sincerely hope that these tips are as effective for you as they were for me 😊

1.  Slow down.

Eating should not be a race. When you move quickly, it sends the message to your nervous system that there is stress, which incites the SNS. Pace yourself with the slowest eater at the table, put your fork down between each bite and always allow 15-20 minutes for each meal.

2.  5 deep breaths.

Research has shown that deep breathing fools your nervous system into believing you are relaxed, no matter what is happening around you. Inhale through your nose for a count of 4, watch your rib cage expand, and then exhale out of your mouth for a count of 4, watching your ribcage release. Do this at least 5 times before every meal and snack.

3.  Chew eat bite 30 times.

This one was huge for me. Your digestive tract has a HUGE job to accomplish each day. Although each part of your digestive tract (mouth, teeth, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, etc.), plays a unique role, your teeth are basically superstars in this process. By mechanically breaking down what you eat thoroughly before it reaches your stomach, you decrease the need for HCL (stomach acid) and enzymes. Essentially, you take the burden off of the rest of the digestive tract, by letting your teeth do their job correctly.  One bite = thirty chomps.  

4.  Only eat while in a positive state of mind.

The mind and body are inextricably intertwined. If you are angry, upset or irritable, then so is your digestive tract.  As we learned before, if your mind is stressed, the SNS rears its ugly head which lays the foundation for digestive issues. Before eating in a stressed state, take 5 sloooooowwww and deep breaths to calm yourself down. If the effort fails, simply wait to eat until after you have calmed down.

5.  Create a relaxing environment.

I know you may not always have control over where you eat, but when you do, create as relaxing an atmosphere as you can.  Put on some relaxing music, light a candle, eat with your favorite dishes. Pleasure is a powerful way to incite PSNS activation and by enjoying yourself you are also improving your digestive capacity.

6.  Eat with people that you love.

Socal connection is another powerful activator of the PSNS.  I know a leisurely meal with your favorite loved ones isn't always possible, but when it is make it happen! Not only will you be creating memories, but you will also increasing nutrient absorption and decreasing your chances for digestive issues.   

7. Eat food that you love.

At first, the paleo lifestyle may seem to eliminate many of the foods that you used to enjoy. However, due to our incredible recipe collection, there is almost always a healthful substitute for any food you are missing. Although this may seem unnecessary studies have actually proven that when you enjoy your food, nutrient absorption is increased. 

So there you have it!  Seven tips that will take you one step closer to digestive ease and increased health.

These tips will not only help you to alleviate many of your digestive issues, but research has also show that when we eat in a relaxed state, we eat LESS.  That means these tips will not only help you to:

-Extract more nutrients from the foods you eat

-Save money on digestive aids and doctor’s visits,

-Help you feel your best

But they may also help you shed some pounds.  Don’t you wish everything were this simple?