Simple healthy ways to improve your digestive system
With convenient take-away foods, highly processed and refined low fiber meals, sugar and preservatives laded snacks, it is a no wonder we find digestion problems to be a common occurrence in today’s society. According to the Harvard School of Public health, the average person takes about 12-18 grams dietary fiber a day when the recommended daily intake is 20-35 grams a day. Hence, due to our low fiber intake, there are many people that experience symptoms of problematic digestion such as diarrhea, high occurrence of flatulence, bloating, constipation and indigestion. While many of us think that these problems are not serious, it is a fact that many health experts believe that serious diseases start in the colon. The general consensus in the health industry is that toxic buildup in the intestines can lead to diseases such as obesity, colds and flus, colon cancer, cardiac problems, fatigue, skin problems, joint paint, etc. Hence the saying… “You are what you eat”!
Thus, it is important as part of a healthy lifestyle to keep your digestive system in optimum condition. Here are some very simple tips to get you going and ensure that you’re on your way to having a healthy digestive system.
1. Chew your food properly
Most people don’t realize that if you chow down your food, your digestive system is unable to process larger chunks of foods as well as compared to smaller chunks of food. Saliva in your mouth also helps the digestive process by breaking down carbohydrates as it contains digestive enzymes which start carbohydrate digestion. Learn to take your time to enjoy your food and chew each bite thoroughly.
2. Increase your Dietary Fiber intake
We all know that vegetables and fruits are great for cleaning out our insides. That is because they are a fantastic source of dietary fiber. Consuming fiber increases the ability of the body to soften stool, increase its bulk and shorten the amount of time it normally takes for food to go through the digestive tract. Other great sources of dietary fiber include dried fruits such as prunes and figs, oat, rye and barley and canned beans.
3. Try Dietary supplements
If for some reason you’re finding it hard to consume enough dietary fiber and you’re constantly experiencing symptoms like constipation or irritable bowel syndrome, it is a good idea to consider trying out fiber supplements to help increase your fiber intake and stimulate normal bowl regularity. When shopping for fiber supplements, try and look for ones that contain psllium and inulin in particular. Psllium (a type of soluble fibre and bulking agent) is great for the stimulation of bowels and inulin (a prebiotic) helps encourage and promote the growth of healthy bacteria for optimum digestion in the digestive tract. Fiber supplements also may have other health benefits such as reducing the risk of colon cancer development and lowering cholesterol levels. Please note that dietary supplements should NOT BE CONFUSED laxatives and you should avoid laxatives unless absolutely necessary. Taking too many laxatives can upset your digestive tract’s natural process and damage its muscles which results in more and more difficult bowel movements. Dietary supplements on the other hand can be taken regularly and would not upset or damage your digestive tract.
One of the primary cause of constipation is insufficient water consumption. Water is great for “flushing out” the toxins in your body and improving your digestion system. Try drinking a glass of lukewarm water in the morning to jump start your digestive system and continue to hydrate regularly throughout the day. Drink often, but in smaller quantities so that you’re not constantly rushing to the toilet. Developing a habit of drinking water often and regularly is important as it is easy to become dehydrated in between meals which can negatively affect your digestive system. If you don’t normally drink much water, make a conscious effort to drink a glass of water in the morning and swap your soft drink/energy drink/coffee for a glass or bottle of water throughout the day.
5. Increase good probiotic bacteria
These little microorganisms contribute to intestinal microbial balance and promote healthy digestion. Yogurt is a great source of probiotic bacteria, but please be mindful that not all yogurts are equal as the production of some yogurts destroys the good bacteria during the pasteurization process. Hence, when buying yogurt, make sure that you’re buying good quality products where the manufacture has re-added the live active cultures and that the yogurt you’re consuming contain acidophilus and bifidobacteria. Other sources of probiotic bacteria include natural cheese, milk and kefir. If however, you are experiencing problems in consuming these high-probiotic foods, there are also great probiotic supplements in the market that will work just as well. These gut bacteria will help reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, gas and bloating and promote effective digestion in your intestinal tract.
Exercise can actually help with your digestion as it promotes movements within your bowels. In addition to that, as your body needs to assimilate the food into energy, exercise will help to improve your body’s metabolism which will allow your food to be digested quicker. Thus it is important to remain active each day and develop a consistent exercise/physical activity routine and a healthy lifestyle.
Having and enjoying a healthy digestive system is certainly not rocket science. By following these simple tips and ensuring that you’re consuming the right foods and enjoying a balanced diet and lifestyle, you will significantly reduce the chance of experiencing digestive problems, developing colon cancer and low body immunity. In the end, it is your body. So look after it!