Food for Thought – 5 Easy Ways to Keep your Digestive System Healthy 

Last updated: July 21, 2019


Contributed by:
Richard Honaker M.D.
Primary Care Physician
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Tummy troubles can be inconvenient and embarrassing! Keep your digestive system healthy with these 5 tips! 

We all know that eating well is the key to a healthy life and keeping those tummy troubles at bay. However, making healthier food choices and changing one’s lifestyle is easier said than done. 

This is why we have put together a guide that lists simple things you can do, to ensure that your digestive system stays healthy. With these simple changes and a little bit of consistency, you can attain big results. 

Increase your fiber intake 

Source: Canva

Fiber is essential for good digestion. Not only does it move things along smoothly in your intestines and prevents constipation  but it also monitors the glucose absorption into the bloodstream, keeping your blood sugar at a more even level. 

In addition to the obvious benefits, fiber can also lower cholesterol levels, help keep body weight in check and reduce the risk of developing digestive conditions, including ulcers, reflux, and hemorrhoids.

Your diet should include both soluble and insoluble fiber. This is because they both serve different purposes. Insoluble fiber is indigestible for your body, hence it adds bulk to the stool. While soluble fiber, as the name suggests, absorbs water and helps stools pass more easily. 

For starters, try to include the following sources of fiber your diet:

Sources of Soluble Fiber

  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Psyllium
  • Citrus fruits
  • Apples
  • Lentils

Sources of Insoluble Fiber

  • Whole-wheat flour and bran
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Beans 
  • Vegetables including cauliflower, green beans and potatoes 

Related: 5 Easy Ways to Deal with a Gassy Stomach

A quick tip though, as you increase your fiber intake, supplement it with an increase in water intake to ensure that your body can move the fiber along, especially if you are dealing with chronic constipation.

According to a recent study, daily fiber intake of 25 g can increase stool frequency in people dealing with chronic constipation, especially if they also increase their  fluid intake to 1.5-2.0 liters per day.

Stay Active

Source: Canva

It is common knowledge that exercise promotes physical and mental well being. In fact, any form of physical activity can help speed up the digestion process and stimulate muscles in the GI tract helping improve digestion and prevent constipation. 

To maintain healthy digestive health, you don’t necessarily need hardcore exercise. A study has shown that even moderate exercise, such as cycling and jogging, can increased gut transit time dramatically. 

The key is to stay active. This is why a stroll after a meal or just taking the stairs instead of the elevator can help keep your digestive system in check.  It can also help reduce inflammation, which may in turn help prevent inflammatory bowel conditions.

Stay Hydrated 

Source: Canva

Up to 60% of the human adult body is water. Hence, increasing your water intake can do wonders for your body and when it comes to your digestive health, water works with fiber to create softer, bulkier stools, and enables them to pass through more easily.

Although, daily water intake recommendations vary by age, sex, pregnancy, and/or breastfeeding status, there are some general guidelines. 

According to a report released by The Food and Nutrition Board, it is recommended for women to consume at least approximately 2.7 liters of total water (from all beverages and foods) every day, and for men to consume an average of approximately 3.7 liters of water every day. 

Also, something to keep in mind is that your water intake isn’t just made up of the water you drink. It also includes the amount of water consumed from foods and other beverages. So, having fruits and vegetables high in water content, can also help you in staying well hydrated. Some of these include cucumber, celery, zucchini, tomatoes, watermelons, and strawberries.

 

Follow a Schedule

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While it is tempting to have a late night snack or gobble down a chocolate bar when hunger strikes around noon, eating at odd hours or at irregular intervals can negatively impact your gut. 

A good analogy would be an office job. If you keep getting work at odd hours and there is no set schedule, you may not perform as well as when you have an organised schedule. Your body is no different. 

Hence, eating at roughly the same time every day, you can train your body to follow a pattern for digestion. Having breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks around the same time everyday, can really do wonders for your overall health.  

 

Take your Time

Source: Canva

Did you know that the more you chew your food, the easier it is to digest? This is because without saliva your body cannot absorb the nutritional benefits of your food. 

Also chewing properly helps reduce the work your stomach has to do less work to further break down the food so that it can move through your small intestine.So slow down and enjoy your food.

Additionally, your brain sends signals to your body when it believes you’ve eaten enough and this process takes some time. This is why it is strongly recommended to eat slowly. By taking your time to eat, you are not only avoiding overeating and bloating but also giving your stomach plenty of time to properly digest the nutrients you are giving it.

By adopting these five strategies and making small changes to your routine and dietary habits, you can improve your digestive health naturally. So, what are you waiting for? it’s time to say goodbye to tummy woes and hello to a healthier lifestyle!

Worried About your Tummy Troubles? 

Stomach issues can be an embarrassing topic to discuss with the family doctor. Connect with us and leave the embarrassment behind. 

 

Disclaimer: This article provides general information and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or medical condition. If you require specific advice, please consult one of our medical professionals through the app. However, in case of an emergency, please call 911.

About Richard Honaker M.D.

Dr. Richard Honaker has over 40 years of experience as a primary care physician specializing in several different areas of medicine. He is able to provide expert case review and analysis for insurance and workers compensation cases as well as providing online medical consultations as the Chief Medical Advisor for Your Doctors Online.


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