10 Effective Ways To Ensure A Healthy Digestion
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The most common gastrointestinal problems include constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), diarrhea, bloating, flatulence & acidity. These can be a result of many factors like an unhealthy lifestyle & poor dietary choice.
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If you often have problems with your digestive health such as flatulence, bloating, heartburn, nausea, constipation or diarrhoea, then this article is worth your time. Owing to today’s fast paced lifestyle, digestive problems are one of the most common health problems that people face on a day to day basis. The most common gastrointestinal problems include constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), diarrhoea, bloating, flatulence, and acidity. These can be a result of many factors like an unhealthy lifestyle, poor dietary choices, food allergies, skipping meals or infections. By making simple changes in your daily routine, you could ensure a healthy digestive system.
Here are some easy and effective tips to ensure that your digestive tract stays healthy:
1. Start your day right
Make sure you start your day with any form of physical activity like running, jogging, cycling or opting for an exercise regimen. Being physically active boosts digestive health and promotes release of digestive juices that keep your gut healthy. Opt for 20-30 minutes of physical activity every morning and you will observe a noticeable change in your digestive health.
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2. Have Fibre- both insoluble and soluble
Having just a fibre-rich diet is not enough. It is equally important that you have both types of fibre- soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fibre, which is commonly also known as roughage, cannot be digested by the body. This fibre helps to add bulk to your stools and helps to keep constipation at bay. Soluble fibre is the type of fibre that draws in water and can therefore help in preventing the stools from becoming too watery. Healthy sources of insoluble fiber include whole grains, all vegetables and wheat bran. You can get your soluble fibre from legumes, seeds, nuts, and oat bran.
3. Limit foods that are high in fat
Fatty foods tend to slow down the process of digestion, thereby making you prone to constipation. Stay away from refined fats and instead opt for good fats to ensure a healthy digestive tract.
4. Have probiotics
Probiotics are certain strains of good bacteria that normally live in your digestive system. These bacteria live in your intestines where they help to produce some essential vitamins and short-chain fatty acids. They also help in the growth of other types of beneficial bacteria. They do not cause any infections and directly play a significant role in the growth of healthy gut flora (the bacteria in your gut). These bacteria help in better digestion of food and prevent inflammation and infections. Natural probiotics include yoghurt, kimchi, and fermented foods like pickles, kefir, sauerkraut, and kombucha.
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5. Modify your eating habits
The way you choose to eat your meal can have a significant impact on your digestive health. By making small changes in your eating habits, you could improve your digestion dramatically. Here are some tips that you can follow:
· Always have your meals in a relaxed environment where the focus is just on eating, without any distractions.
· Make sure your television or laptop is turned off when you sit down to eat. Keep your phone away and savor each bite of your meal. This way you can relish the varied flavour and aromas in your meals. This is known as mindful eating- seeing, feeling, and tasting your food with complete awareness.
· Avoid eating when you are overstressed or upset. This is because you will tend to make poor choices, like reaching out for a soda can, a big burger or a bag of crisps. When you feel stressed, try something else like taking a walk or talking to a friend instead.
· Make sure you chew your food properly. This is one essential step towards healthy digestion that is mostly overlooked. The more you chew your food, the easier will it be for your stomach to digest it. This is because breaking down of food into fine pieces is the first phase of digestion. So, the finer and smaller the particles, the easier will it be for the food to be digested and assimilated. As you chew, your mouth releases saliva that contains enzymes that help in getting the process of digestion started. Also, as the mouth releases saliva, it sends a signal to the stomach to start produce its own digestive enzymes.
· Have a healthy mix of raw and cooked foods. Raw foods are packed with enzymes that can boost digestive health.
· Follow the 80/20 rule. This means that 80% of your plate should be filled with boiled/grilled and raw vegetables and 20% should be a healthy mix of carbohydrates and proteins.
6. Stay hydrated
Water is one of the key elements to ensure a healthy digestive tract. Stay away from fizzy drinks, excessive caffeine, and sugary juices. Instead opt for 2-3 liters of water to ensure that your gastrointestinal tract stays healthy. Water helps in aiding all the processes of digestion and keeps your gut in good shape.
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7. Cut down on processed foods
Accumulation of excessive toxins and wastes within the digestive tract could lead to many digestive problems such as IBS. By removing foods that contribute to production of these toxins you can ensure that your digestive tract stays healthy. Instead of these foods opt for wholesome, nourishing, and nutrient rich foods. Here are some foods that you should stay away from:
· Say no to processed foods. These foods are loaded with empty calories and have minimal nutritive value. They are often packed with artificial colours, additives, sugar, preservatives that can damage your liver, kidneys, and your stomach.
· If you have gluten sensitivity, eliminate gluten from your diet. Even if you do not have gluten sensitivity, limit your gluten intake, since gluten tends to irritate the gut.
· Stay away from processed soy. This is because soy disrupts the process of absorption of nutrients in the body and it can also cause hormonal imbalance when taken in large amounts.
8. Boost your stomach acid secretion
Stomach acid is extremely important to break down the food in a timely fashion and to promote healthy digestion. In order for the food to pass smoothly from stomach to intestines, it needs to be converted into a smooth liquid form. This is where stomach acid plays its part. It converts the solid/semi-solid food into liquid form. When there is too less stomach acid, your stomach will have to opt for what is known as ‘mechanical’ digestion ( i.e more churning and squeezing in order to break down the solid food) Mechanical digestion takes much more time, as a result food stays in the stomach for a longer period of time. Over time, this food tends to ferment, leading to flatulence and bloating. Also, since bloating exerts excessive pressure on the stomach, this leads to the excessive pressure on the esophageal sphincter. Due to pressure on the esophageal pressure, the stomach acid regurgitates back up into the esophagus, causing heartburn. So, having adequate stomach acid will prevent flatulence, bloating, as well as heartburn. Here are some simple ways to promote release of stomach acid naturally:
· Add a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice to a glass of the water and have it in between your meals.
· Add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to half a glass of water and have it before each meal.
· Make sure you chew your food well. This will trigger release of stomach acid.
9. Manage stress
It is a known fact that stress and anxiety trigger digestive problems. Make sure you have healthy work-life balance. If you are dealing with a stressful situation that you hard to cope with, seek a n expert opinion. Dedicate 10-15 minutes of your day doing mind relaxing exercises such as meditation, deep breathing, yoga or any hobby that will uplift your mood.
10. Try natural remedies
There are many Natural remedies that can help in boosting your digestive health. These include saunf or fennel seeds, ginger, peppermint and apple cider vinegar. Make sure you add them in one way or the other to your daily diet regimen.
· Fennel Seeds
Fennel seeds (or saunf) are very helpful in promoting healthy digestion. They help in providing relief from acid reflux or heartburn, indigestion and acidity. They can also help in relieving symptoms of IBS such as bloating and intestinal cramps. Have a teaspoon of fennel seeds right after you finish your meals to keep your digestive system n optimal working condition. If you have indigestion, add half a spoon of fennel seed powder to a glass of water and have it twice a day. You can also have fennel tea for relief from indigestion. Steep 1 spoonful of crushed fennel seeds in a cup of hot water for about 5 minutes. Drink it 1-2 times a day.
Ginger helps to release digestive juices, as well as enzymes from the stomach and other organs, thereby promoting digestion. It helps in relieving nausea, bloating, flatulence, vomiting, and loose stools. It is also known for its antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties which in turn help in keeping the digestive system healthy. Have 1-2 cups of ginger tea daily. Add freshly grated ginger to a cup of hot water. Allow t to simmer for 5-10 minutes, strain the ginger out and then add some organic honey. Enjoy your ginger tea hot. You can also add 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger juice and 1 teaspoon of organic honey to a cup of warm water and drink it twice daily.
Peppermint has soothing properties that help in keeping the digestive system healthy. It is known for its antispasmodic , carminative, and anti-inflammatory properties which are great in treating flatulence, bloating, nausea and cramps. Studies have also shown that peppermint can be helpful for people with IBS, as well as for people with celiac disease and lactose intolerance. You can drink peppermint tea once a day by taking a teaspoon of fresh or dried peppermint leaves and adding them to a cup of hot water. Steep for about 1 minute, strain the mixture and drink it.
· Apple cider vinegar
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Apple cider vinegar though acidic in nature has an alkalizing effect in your body and helps in promoting digestive health. It provides relief from bloating, stomach ache and indigestion. Apple cider vinegar has pectin, which is a soluble fiber and helps to regulate bowel movements. Have one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a cup of warm water. Add some honey and drink this mixture 2-3 times a day for a healthy digestive system.