10 Tips for Improving and Maintaining Your Digestive Health
It’s often said that “you are what you eat”… but that is not true. It is far closer to the truth to say “you are what you digest”. Your digestive health is directly impacted upon by the foods you eat and the lifestyle you live. By taking incremental steps to improve your digestive health, you’ll instantly begin to help your digestive system to function more efficiently, improving your overall health and sense of well-being.
Try these 10 Tips for Improving and Maintaining Your Digestive Health:
1. Start a high-fibre diet. According to Maria Adams, RD, MPH, a nutrition consultant in Marblehead, Massachusetts, consuming a diet that is high in fibre and rich in whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruits can improve your digestive health. “A high-fibre diet helps to keep food moving through your digestive tract, making you less likely to get constipated,” Adams says. Additionally, a high-fibre diet can also help you prevent or treat various digestive conditions, such as diverticulosis, hemorrhoids, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In addition, it can help you achieve or maintain a healthy weight.
2. Get both insoluble and soluble fibre. It’s important to consume both types of fibre, since they help your digestive system in different ways. “Insoluble fibre, also known as roughage, can’t be digested by the body and therefore helps add bulk to the stools,” says Adams. “Soluble fibre draws in water and can help prevent stools that are too watery.” Good sources of insoluble fibre include wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains; get soluble fibre from oat bran, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
3. Limit foods that are high in (bad) fat. “In general, fatty foods tend to slow down the digestive process, making you more prone to constipation,” says Adams. However, since it’s important to get some fats in to your diet, Adams says that pairing fatty foods with high-fibre foods can make them easier on your digestive system.
4. Choose lean cut meats. Protein is an essential part of a healthy diet, but fatty cuts of meat can lead to uncomfortable digestion. When/if you eat meat, select lean cuts, such as pork loin and skinless poultry. It needs to be noted also that protein can just as readily be sourced from plant based products and are not limited to just animal products.
Related Article: Will Eating Meat Make Me Acidic?
5. Incorporate probiotics into your diet. Probiotics are the same kind of healthy bacteria naturally present in your digestive tract when you body is in balance. “They help keep the body healthy by combating the effects of a poor diet, antibiotics, and stress,” says Adams. In addition, probiotics can enhance nutrient absorption, may help break down lactose, strengthen your immune system, and possibly even help treat IBS. Adams recommends that people eat good sources of probiotics, such as low-fat yogurt or kefir, on a daily basis.
6. Eat on schedule. Consuming your meals and snacks on a regular schedule can help keep your digestive system in top shape. Aim to have a sit down meal for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks around the same time each day. Limit how much you eat after 6pm and limit the intake of carbs’ at dinner. Having carbs’ in your stomach late in the evening can lead to digestive issues.
7. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water for your digestive health. Fibre pulls water into the colon to create softer, bulkier stools, allowing them to pass through more easily.
Related Article: Alkaline Water and Stomach Acid
8. STOP smoking, excessive caffeine, and alcohol. Liquor, coffee, and cigarettes can interfere with the functioning of your digestive system, and lead to problems like stomach ulcers, indigestion and heartburn.
9. Exercise regularly. “Regular exercise helps keep foods moving through your digestive system, reducing constipation,” says Adams. Exercise can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which is good for your digestive health. Make it a point to work regular exercise into your weekly schedule and aim ideally for a moderate workout (one that makes you breath deeper) for 30 minutes daily. This can be as simple as a short, brisk walk or a longer, slower walk with the dog for example.
10. Manage stress. Stress and anxiety can cause your digestive system to go into overdrive. Find stress-reducing activities that you enjoy and practice them on a regular basis. Read a book, take a walk, listen to music, play with your children, whatever works to reduce your stress.
Related Article: 6 Steps To A Healthy Adrenal System
Have you been struggling with your digestive health? If so, let us know in the comments below what you did to treat it and how you are doing now.