Eating a diet rich in fiber, concentrating on your meal, chewing your food slowly, eating on schedule, doing away with your bad habits, limiting food with high sugar content, exercising, eating cooked food, including probiotics in your diet , drinking plenty of water and managing your stress are some of the natural ways to improve digestion.
Digestive and gastrointestinal problems are a common cause of discomfort and unhealthiness. Digestion problems can be embarrassing and can hamper our everyday routine. Due to our erratic lifestyle and undisciplined food habits almost all adults today face problems regarding digestion. Our strict work routine makes it nearly impossible to prepare and plan for healthy home cooked meals. Consumption of meals at regular intervals is also a chore.
11 Tips for a Healthy Digestive System
It is a well-known fact that fiber helps in digestion. The two kinds of fiber are necessary for smooth digestion. Soluble fiber absorbs water and improves the consistency of your stool. Insoluble fiber keeps the digestive tract free from impurities and ensures safe passage of food.
Oats, barley, rye, carrots, legumes, nuts and seeds are rich in soluble fiber. Whole wheat flour, beans, cauliflower and potatoes are rich in insoluble fiber. A diet rich in fiber also reduces the chances of ulcers and hemorrhoids, according to a scientific study published by Department of Internal Medicine and Nutritional Sciences Program, University of Kentucky in 2009.
Concentrate on your meal
Eat in a relaxed environment and be aware of every item you intake. This connects the physical activity of eating with your mental health. Keep away your electronic devices and other distractions. Be mindful of the taste, look and smell of your food. Be aware of the portion size and its calorie count. Keeping a food diary is a good place to start with mindful eating as well.
Chew your food slowly
Breaking down your food into small bits using your teeth makes the passage of the food smoother in your digestive tract. Chewing and breaking down your food is the first and a crucial step in the process of digestion. The saliva produced while chewing releases digestive enzymes to ease the digestive process.
Eat on schedule
Consume small portions of food throughout the day instead of 2-3 intense and heavy meals. Eating in intervals helps the digestive juices and enzymes to act well. Eating on time and nourishing your body after regular intervals of physical and mental activity has a positive impact on digestion.
Do away with your bad habits
Drinking alcohol and smoking without moderation, and eating late and night can cause digestive problems. Smoking doubles the risk of acid reflux, ulcers, and gastrointestinal cancer. Alcohol is high in acidic content and should be completely avoided by people with gastric problems. Alcohol can also increase the production of acid in your body and heartburn. Severe drinking causes bleeding the gastrointestinal tract and inflammation in the digestive tract.
Eating extremely late at night and going to sleep without any physical activity causes indigestion and heart burn. Your last meal should ideally be light and be consumed 2 hours before bed time.
In a scientific study conducted and published in 2017 in the Journal of Pediatrics, constipation is caused by low intake of water. Common medical opinion is that one should drink around 1.5-2 liters of water every day to stay hydrated. One should avoid caffeinated or artificially sweetened drinks for sources of hydration. Apart from water, you can increase your fluid intake by consuming herbal teas or fruit smoothies. Coconut water, or water infused in cucumber are also healthy alternatives. You can also consume fruits and vegetables with high water content like grapes, melons, tomatoes and zucchini.
Manage your stress
When you are stressed, blood and energy that is usually used by the body for digestion are used up and due to lack of relaxation and peace indigestion is caused. Stress management can be done with enough sleep, meditation, yoga and breathing exercises. Overall a healthy and balanced life with regular sleep pattern and food intake would aid in distressing your body.
It will improve digestion and your mental health.
Limit food with high sugar content
High sugar is harmful for your diet as it causes the risk of diabetes, a fatal disease affecting a large percentage of the population in the world. Artificial sweetener also increases the amount of harmful bacteria in your gut. A 2014 research article in Nature magazine proved how artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota. Cutting down on refined sugar will make the digestion process easier. Avoid desserts, sugar satches, cream and sweetened carbonated drinks.
Deep breathing, good posture, and any exercise that you think you are capable of continuing daily should be good for your health. Taking deep breaths reduces the risk of heart burns and keeps your body healthy. An upright and steady posture can help ease gastric pain in the long run and it is definitely beneficial for our bone health. Regular to moderate physical activity and yoga help with irritable bowel syndrome and indigestion.
Eat cooked food
According to a scientific report published in 2013 by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, processed and canned food contain a high amount of trans fat which is harmful for your health and can cause inflammation, long term heart diseases and gastrointestinal problems. Cooked food also kills harmful bacteria. When food is heated for cooking the bacteria cannot survive beyond their optimum temperature and hence they perish.
Include probiotics in your diet
Probiotics help in breaking down indigestible food items which could later cause indigestion, gas and stomach bloating. If that is unchecked, it can also cause diarrhea and constipation. Probiotics can be found in natural food items and in medication.
Ideally a probiotic supplement should contain a mix of strains including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Natural food items that are rich in probiotics are yogurt, kimchi and kombucha.
A healthy digestive system is a key aspect of any healthy body. With the right diet and lifestyle, one can get permanent relief from digestive problems.