Your digestive health is directly affected by the food you consume and the lifestyle you live.
It will help your digestive system function more effectively and enhance your overall health and sense of well-being by taking measures to improve your digestive health.
Luckily, improvements in diet and lifestyle can have a positive effect in improving digestive health.
What’s the role of the digestive system?
The digestive system helps in the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients until the waste products are excreted.
To break down food into nutrients that the body uses for energy, growth, and cell repair, digestion is necessary.
Digestion is carried out by moving food via the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Digestion continues with chewing in the mouth and terminates in the small intestine.
It blends with digestive juices as food moves through the GI tract, allowing large molecules of food to break down into smaller molecules.
Waste products produced by digestion move into the large intestine and out of the body as a solid substance called stool.
Digestive juices contain enzymes that separate food into various nutrients.
Many digested food molecules, as well as water and minerals, are ingested by the small intestine and passed on to other parts of the body for storage or further chemical alteration.
The digestive process is controlled by nerve regulators and hormones. This ensures that the digestive system works at its best.
What happens if you have poor digestive health?
If you have poor digestive health, then you can develop the following complications:
- Crohn’s Disease
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Unhealthy Balance of Gut Microbiome
- Cholesterol Build-up
- Disturb Heart Health
- Increase load on Kidneys
- Leads to Anxiety and Depression
- Decreased Energy Levels
- Mood swings
- Hormonal imbalance
- Abnormal Bowel Movements
- Increased stress
Ways to improve digestive system and health
Following are the ways to improve your digestive health:
1. Eat healthy food
The standard Western diet is associated with an increased risk of developing digestive disorders.
This diet is high in processed carbohydrates, saturated fat, and food additives.
It has been proposed that food additives, including glucose, salt, and other chemicals, contribute to increased inflammation of the stomach, contributing to a disorder called leaky intestines.
2. Exercise regularly
One of the easiest strategies to improve your digestion is daily exercise.
Gravity and exercise help food move through your digestive system. Taking a walk after a meal will also encourage the body to move things along.
One research in healthy individuals found that moderate exercise, such as cycling and jogging, improved intestinal transit time by almost 30%.
3. Practice mindful eating
If you’re not paying attention, it’s possible to eat too much too fast, which can result in bloating, gas and indigestion.
The practice of paying attention to all aspects of your diet and the process of eating is mindful eating.
Studies have shown that mindfulness may reduce digestive symptoms in people with ulcerative colitis and IBS.
4. Stay hydrated
One of the major causes of constipation is low fluid intake.
Research published in PubMed tells that a person must drink 50 to 66 ounces of fluids each day to prevent constipation.
People who live in warmer regions need to drink more water.
5. Eat healthy fats
Eating enough fat helps in good digestion. After a meal, fat makes you feel relaxed and is also required for the proper absorption of nutrients.
Furthermore, studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis.
Flaxseeds, chia seeds, nuts as well as fatty fishes such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, are food rich in beneficial omega-3 fatty acid.
6. Eat plenty of fiber
Soluble fiber absorbs water and helps add bulk to your stool. With the help of Insoluble fiber which acts a toothbrush to keep everything move along the digestive tract.
Soluble fiber is present in oat bran, legumes, nuts, and seeds, fresh fruits, whole grains, and wheat bran are strong sources of insoluble fiber.
A high-fiber diet, including ulcers, reflux, hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, and IBSS, is associated with a decreased risk of digestive disorders.
7. Avoid late night eating
Heartburn and indigestion may result from eating late at night and then lying down to sleep.
It takes time for your body to digest, and gravity helps keep the food you consume moving in the correct direction.
Additionally, the contents of your stomach can rise and cause heartburn when you lie down. A rise in reflux symptoms is closely associated with lying down after feeding. Avoid eating late at night.
8. Eat probiotics
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that, when taken as supplements, can improve digestive health.
By breaking down indigestible fibers that can otherwise cause gas and bloating, these healthy bacteria assist in the digestion of food.
Studies have shown that consuming probiotics in IBS patients can improve the symptoms of bloating, gas, and pain.
9. Quit smoking
Stomach ulcers increased surgery in people with ulcerative colitis, and gastrointestinal cancers have also been linked with this bad habit.
Bear in mind that stopping to smoke is helpful if you have stomach problems and smoke cigarettes. So quit smoking if you want to have a healthy gut.
10. Relax before eating
Before a meal, taking the time to relax improves your digestive symptoms.
Also, digestion is adversely affected by emotional feeding. In one study, there were higher levels of indigestion and bloating in people who ate while they were nervous.
If you experience occasional, frequent, or chronic digestive symptoms, a simple diet, and lifestyle changes can help enhance your digestion.
Occasional digestive symptoms such as a disturbed stomach, gas, heartburn, nausea, constipation, or diarrhea are encountered by all.
However, they can cause significant disruptions to your life when these symptoms occur regularly.
The first step towards good digestion is eating a whole-food diet rich in fiber, healthy fat, and nutrients.
Practices such as mindful eating, managing stress, and exercising are also helpful to improve digestive health.