Proper digestion can be the key to high energy and glowing skin on your wedding day. "Digestion is the gateway to the amount of nutrients your body receives," says Dr. Lamees Hamdan. "If you're digesting well, the food you eat is broken down and absorbed properly, which means your whole body can benefit from the nutrients. However, even if you eat the healthiest diet, if you can't break it down and absorb it, you're not feeding your body. That's how important proper digestion is." That means that poor digestion can have a negative effect on your weight, skin, energy, stress levels, and mood—the brain-gut body connection is real—so making sure you're not only eating healthily but that your body can also process what you're eating is important.
"Less nutrients means less vitamins and minerals for the cells, which could result in lethargy, anemia, joint pain, moodiness, depression, and much more. It's because every reaction in our body needs nutrients in order to function properly," she says. Incorporate her easy tips into your pre-wedding wellness regimen to improve your digestive health. (We promise: There are no crazy ingredients or intense exercises here—these are tips that can be effortlessly incorporated into your daily routine.)
Drink only warm and hot water.
"Every second of every day, your body is producing by-products from cellular metabolism—and some of these by-products are considered toxins that need to be eliminated by the body," Dr. Hamdan says. "Our bodies are under so much stress that the process of elimination isn't perfect and almost everyone has some sort of toxic build up in their system. Drinking hot water during the day is the easiest and cheapest way you can help your body in the elimination of toxins." For that reason, Dr. Hamdan starts every day with a cup of hot water and lemon. "It's an ancient Ayurvedic technique that's gaining in popularity," she adds. "In Ayurveda, it's believed that drinking warm water and lemon helps you flush out the toxins that have built up overnight in your digestive tract."
This one might be a no-brainer, but it's true: Your body needs time to process every meal. "I don't like making life complicated—yes, I try to buy fruits and vegetables that are in season, and eat warmer, cooked foods in the winter and lighter foods in the summer—but what I do is chew my food carefully," she says. "That takes concentration."
Stop using antibacterial soap.
"Your gut microbiome is dependent upon different types of bacteria, and people who are a little crazy about antibacterial products actually end up having less robust immune systems in the long run—and immunity is heavily influenced by gut health," Dr. Hamdan says. That doesn't mean you should stop washing your hands, though. Instead, look for a product that does the job without wiping away the good bacteria, too.
Add good bacteria—otherwise known as probiotics—to your diet
Instead of taking a probiotic supplement, Dr. Hamdan prefers to incorporate probiotic-rich foods into her diet. "I prefer drinking kefir to taking a pill," she says. "Probiotics can be very sensitive, so I can't be sure that the pill I am taking has live bacteria. However, I can be sure when drinking kefir. I make my own at home. Taking regular probiotics is sort of like adding fertilizer to your gut." You can also eat kimchi, sauerkraut, and drink kombucha.
Try digestive bitters.
"If your digestion is sluggish, try taking a few drops of digestive bitters right before, during, or even after your meals," she says. "They help promote the release of enough digestive juices by stimulating bitter receptors on the tongue, stomach, gallbladder, and pancreas. Urban Moonshine makes great ones." Another trick, she adds, is to eat a thin slice of ginger with salt and a squeeze of lemon before every meal.
"If you feel bloated, I find three cups of green tea very effective in getting rid of excess water retention. Fennel or anise tea is also good and doesn't contain caffeine," the pro says.
Watch your intake of inflammatory foods.
These include white sugar, white processed carbs, dairy, artificial sweeteners, fatty foods, and gluten. "Inflammatory foods can also affect the gut," Dr. Hamdan says. "People can react differently, but it seems the main culprits are sugar, dairy, and gluten. I would recommend easing up on these—sugar I actually recommend everyone to eliminate. While I don't recommend completely avoiding dairy or gluten if it doesn't cause you problems, eating too much of them can cause internal inflammation that you don't see or feel." Ultimately, she says you should try to eat a variety of different foods and colors each day, and indulge when it's worth it to you. "There shouldn't be too many rules and you shouldn't have any guilt associated with eating—even if you are eating a lovely chocolate cake. If you are going to indulge, at least enjoy it!"
"A very important factor in poor digestion is a sedentary lifestyle," she says. "I advise getting 30 minutes of walking a day. Use the stairs, walk whenever possible—just try to get 30 minutes in each day."