Our bodies derive nutrition from what we eat. And a well-functioning digestive system ensures that all these nutrients are absorbed efficiently. These nutrients are utilized to maintain a healthy mind and body, perform apt bodily functions, and so on. Therefore, our food habits and lifestyle have a direct impact on our gut health and ultimately on our bodies. It is natural to experience an occasional upset stomach, diarrhea, or constipation.
Studies indicate that out of 10 every 4 individuals suffer from functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) of differing intensity. Fortunately, all these problems can be prevented by following some gut-healthy habits.
Occasional mild discomfort is completely common. However, if you experience any of these symptoms for more than 2 weeks, maybe it is time to see a doctor:
Digestion starts even before the food enters your stomach. The saliva present in your mouth is rich with digestive enzymes that help in breaking down complex carbs and fats. If you do not chew your food properly and slowly, it leads to decreased nutrition absorption. Saliva also acts as a digestive fluid in your stomach. Thus, if you chew your food appropriately, it aids in better digestion.
Foods that are high in refined carbs are associated with a greater risk of developing digestive disorders. Processed foods are also plentiful of trans fats, which are infamous for causing inflammatory bowel diseases. Chemicals present in processed foods may lead to increased stomach inflammation. It is best advised to limit your processed food intake and focus more on whole foods that are rich in nutrients, protecting your gut.
Fiber is known for its good digestive benefits. It helps the food to move through the digestive tract and it can also treat many digestive conditions such as IBS and hemorrhoids. It is important to include both soluble and insoluble fibers in your diet. Soluble fiber takes up water and adds volume to the stool. While, insoluble fiber helps the food move smoothly through the gastrointestinal tract.
Healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids are found to lower the danger of developing inflammatory bowel diseases. Generally, high-calorie fatty foods tend to slow down the digestion process and can lead to constipation. That being said, while you bulk up on healthy fats, make sure that you are eating in a moderate quantity.
Another way to promote healthy digestive habits is to go for lean meat if you are a non-vegetarian. Meat rich in fat can cause problems to your gut. Lean meats like lean beef, pork loin, are an excellent source of protein minus the fat.
Hydration is very essential for your digestion. A common cause of constipation is low fluid intake. Additionally, fiber takes in water into your colon to form a bulkier stool, which allows them to move through easily. It is recommended you drink 2.5 to 3 liters of water every day. You can meet this requirement by incorporating fruits and vegetables that have a high-water content such as melons, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and more.
Exercising regularly strengthens your digestive system. It prevents constipation and helps the food move smoothly through the digestive tract. Exercising also helps in keeping a healthy weight, which is important for your gut health. Engage yourself in fun exercises regularly, even if for 20 or 30 minutes daily.
Probiotics are the same kind of healthy bacteria that are naturally present in your digestive tract. They improve nutrient absorption and strengthen your immune system. They also fight the effects of poor diet, stress, and antibodies. Low-fat yogurt is a good source of probiotics.
Prebiotics on the other hand, act as food for probiotics, thus helping probiotics to maintain healthy bacteria in the stomach. Best prebiotic foods include garlic, onion, banana, oats, wheat bran, and more.
Studies have found the association of stress with diarrhea, stomach ulcers, constipation, and IBS. When stress hormones are released, then your body prepares itself for fight or flight situations and it thinks that there is no time to rest and digest the food. In addition to this, your brain and gut are interlinked. You can try several stress-releasing exercises such as meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, and relaxation techniques.
Mindful eating refers to the practice of paying attention to every characteristic of your food and the process of eating. According to studies, eating mindfully can reduce digestive symptoms in people with IBM and ulcerative colitis. Turn off your television or put away your phone while eating. Eating slowly and taking each bite consciously can help you practice mindfulness.
Bad habits such as smoking, consuming alcohol in excessive amounts, or immoderate intake of caffeine can interfere with the working of the digestive system. This can result in an unhealthy and weak digestive system.
Smoking is found to double the danger of advancing acid reflux. It is also associated with stomach ulcers. Alcohol can result in heartburn, stomach ulcers, acid reflux by increasing the production of acid in your stomach. Excessive alcohol usage is associated with inflammatory bowel diseases and bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract.
A healthy gut is vital for a healthy body. Incorporating these simple yet effective habits into your life can help in keeping your digestive health in a good shape.
Avoid food and habits that put a lot of stress on your stomach. Practicing mindfulness and stress management will go a long way, not just for your gut, but for the whole of your body.