5 Easy Ways To Keep Your Digestive System Healthy
Gastrointestinal (GI) health is an important overall health consideration for everyone. When your digestive system is not working well, it may leave you feeling exhausted, in pain and miserable. Some people can develop chronic GI problems — even ones genetically based — that are possible to manage and control with lifestyle changes. These are some ways to keep your gut happier and so you will feel better.
1. Eat Enough Fiber
Fiber keeps your digestion system working smoothly, and helps promote healthy, regular bowel movements. Although you can take a fiber supplement, it is best to get as much of your fiber as possible from the food you eat. The two types of fiber are soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber helps draw liquid into your stools, and insoluble fiber adds bulk. The combination helps move everything smoothly through your digestive system. Some examples of insoluble fiber are whole grains, vegetables and bran, while legumes, nuts, seeds and oat bran are some examples of soluble fiber. You need both. Keep in mind that soluble fiber requires plenty of water for you to experience its full benefits.
2. Drink Plenty Of Water
Unless you have a medical condition that requires fluid restriction, drinking plenty of water is the most important thing you can do to keep your digestive system healthy. Unfortunately, most people do not drink enough water. To stay properly hydrated, drink your water throughout the day instead of drinking one or two large amounts at different intervals. Try making a water-drinking schedule for yourself and post it where you will mostly likely see it throughout the day to give you a visual reminder and prompt. Since contaminants in tap water can be unhealthy for your digestive system, try drinking filtered water or choose the best water filter you can find for the greatest health benefit. When you consume plenty of water along with fiber, you are doing your digestive system a big favor.
3. Develop An Eating Schedule
Whether you eat three normal-sized meals or six small meals a day, it is important to eat on a schedule. However, if you eat two large meals a day and find that you feel tired after eating, you may want to try switching to several small meals to give your digestive system a break, which is especially helpful to people with GI issues. Your digestive system functions best when you eat about the same amount at the same time every day.
4. Look For Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Inflammatory foods can leave people with sensitive intestines and bowels feeling miserable and bloated, such as meat, fried or processed food. They may also exacerbate some problems in people with diverticulosis, IBS or other diseases. There are plenty of useful anti-inflammatory spices that you can add to foods, such as ginger and turmeric. Leafy vegetables, salmon, dark berries and sweet potatoes are just a few of the many examples of anti-inflammatory foods. Use coconut or olive oil instead of corn oil, which is inflammatory.
There are plenty of free recipes that you can easily find for anti-inflammatory dinners and snacks on the Internet. Look for Ayurvedic cookbooks or a pain-free eating guide if you experience frequent discomfort in your gut. Keep a food journal. Write down what you eat each day, how you feel and if you pass stool. You may realize that you have a sensitivity to a certain food that you had not identified before.
5. Manage Your Stress
Many people do not know that there is a connection between stress and gut health. In one study from UCLA, GI expert Dr. Lin Chang noted that stress early in life can be tied to IBS, however, she also pointed out that people who had someone to talk to about their stress were less likely to develop a chronic GI illness. If you have stress and do not have someone trustworthy to confide in, talk therapy can be a good option to provide the confidentially you need along with professional feedback. You can also learn effective ways to cope with stress and life’s trials by talking with a psychotherapist. Learning to meditate or taking a stress reduction class can also be helpful in discovering new ways to manage your stress and protect your GI health.
Other ways to improve your digestive health include staying active and taking the right supplements for your body’s unique needs, which will vary for each person. Check in with your health practitioner and inner healing wisdom about the right exercise routines and supplements that will give your digestive system the boost it needs.
Nichelle Lucero is a lifestyle writer for her personal blog Lifewithkrich.com. Her favorite pastime is working out and reading books together with her cats Chloe and Milo.