How to maintain healthy digestion
Maintaining healthy digestion is vital as it ensures your body gets the most nutrition from the food you eat, helping you to maintain health and well‐being.
Here are some positive steps you can take to rejuvenate and maintain the health of your digestive system:
- Eat a healthy diet
- Consume plenty of fiber‐rich foods such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains to encourage the passage of material through the digestive system and to reduce the risk of developing digestive problems.
- Reduce intake of processed packaged foods, which have less nutritional value compared to unprocessed foods and usually lack fiber.
- Drink plenty of water, which helps dissolve some nutrients, encourages the passage of waste through the digestive tract and helps soften stools.1
- Moderate intake of caffeine and alcohol as both substances can cause digestive discomfort including indigestion and associated heartburn.2
- Consume foods that naturally contain probiotics, or “good bacteria”, similar to those that reside in your digestive tract. Include yoghurt, tempeh, miso, sauerkraut and kimchi.3
- Include foods that contain prebiotics, which act as fuel for your good bacteria to thrive. Foods that contain prebiotics include bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, artichoke and asparagus.3
- Improve your eating habits
- Moderate your portion sizes to reduce the load on your digestive system. Having smaller more regular meals is better for good digestion and for maintaining energy levels throughout the day.
- Take your time when eating and chew your food thoroughly. Chewing is the first step of digestion and the effectiveness of the whole digestive process depends on how well food has been chewed.
- Eat in a comfortable, relaxed environment rather than eating on the go or when you’re rushed or stressed, which can hinder the digestive process.
- Get active – Regular exercise can help strengthen abdominal muscles and reduces digestive sluggishness by stimulating intestinal muscles to push digestive contents through the system.1
- Manage stress levels – Stress can upset the intricate balance of digestion and lead to bloating, pain, constipation and diarrhea. It may also worsen some digestive conditions.1 To reduce stress try exercise, yoga, meditation, deep breathing or tai chi.
- Avoid smoking – Smoking relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter that acts as a door between the esophagus and the stomach. This allows the backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus, which can result in indigestion and other complications.4
- Maintain a healthy weight – Excess weight can put undue pressure on digestive organs and may affect their function.
- Consider digestive support remedies – If you wish to maintain digestive health or address common digestive symptoms you could consider a specialized supplement such as:
- A comprehensive probiotic, to maintain healthy intestinal flora and reduce symptoms of bloating, gas and flatulence.
- Digestive enzymes to ensure the normal breakdown of food.
- Ginger to aid digestion and help relieve digestive discomfort.
- Fenugreek or slippery elm to soothe irritation of the digestive tract.
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Published December 4, 2014
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