Chalking up a bellyache to gas or bloating is common, but there’s a lot more to what’s happening in your gut. There’s more and more evidence that your gut bacteria and the health of your gut lining affect your mind, mood, and body in ways from minor (energy and skin) to major (chronic inflammation and disease).
Learning about your digestive system — and how to care for it — is the first step to maintaining a healthy gut.
Your lifestyle and your choice of foods can affect the way your body digests what you eat.
Drinking water, adding fiber, and exercising all contribute to better digestive health.
Your digestive system breaks down the foods you eat into the nutrients your body needs. If you neglect your digestive health, your body could run into problems absorbing those nutrients.
Your digestive health is directly impacted by the foods you eat and the lifestyle you live. By taking steps to improve your digestive health, you'll help your digestive system to function more efficiently, improving your overall health and sense of well-being.
Try these tips for better digestive health:
Eat a high-fiber diet.
According to Maria Adams, RD, MPH, a nutrition consultant in Marblehead, Massachusetts, consuming a diet that's high in fiber and rich in whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruits can improve your digestive health.
Maria Adams continues to say, "A high-fiber diet helps to keep food moving through your digestive tract, making you less likely to get constipated & that a high-fiber diet can 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.
Get both insoluble ( from foods) and soluble fiber.
It's important to consume both types of fiber, since they help your digestive system in different ways.
Insoluble fiber, also known as roughage, can't be digested by the body and therefore helps add bulk to the stools. Soluble fiber draws in water and can help prevent stools that are too watery.
Good sources of insoluble fiber include wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains; get soluble fiber from oat bran, nuts, seeds, and legumes. A simple soluble fiber formula is fertilizer for your good bacteria.
Limit foods that are high in fat.
In general, fatty foods tend to slow down the digestive process, making you more prone to constipation. But since it's important to get some fat in your diet, it is important to pair fatty foods with high-fiber foods which can make them easier on your digestive system.
Choose lean meats.
Protein is an essential part of a healthful diet, but fatty cuts of meat can lead to uncomfortable digestion. When you eat meat, select lean cuts and skinless poultry. Organic meats is always a better choice.
Incorporate probiotics into your diet.
Probiotics are the same kind of healthy bacteria naturally present in your digestive tract. They help keep the body healthy by combating the effects of a poor diet, antibiotics, and stress.
In addition, probiotics can enhance nutrient absorption, may help break down lactose, strengthen your immune system, and possibly even help ease the symptoms of IBS.
Besides taking a good probiotic so your gut & friendly flora can thrive, we should all be incuding good sources of probiotics into our diet daily.
Eat on schedule.
Consuming your meals and snacks on a regular schedule can help keep your digestive system in top shape. Aim to sit down for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks around the same time each day.
Drinking plenty of water is good for your digestive health. Fiber pulls water into the colon to create softer, bulkier stools, allowing them to pass through more easily.
Water is your body's principal chemical component and makes up about 60 percent of your body weight. Your body depends on water to survive. Every cell, tissue and organ in your body needs water to work properly.
Skip the bad habits: 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 and heartburn.
Regular exercise helps keep foods moving through your digestive system, reducing constipation. 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.
Too much stress or anxiety can cause your digestive system to go into overdrive.
Find stress-reducing activities that you enjoy and practice them on a regular basis.
What you eat and the quality of your digestive health are intertwined. Following these strategies will help make sure it’s always a happy relationship.
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