If you are suffering from digestive system problems and want to improve digestion then you should follow this guide. Before we jump deep into the subject let’s learn few important facts about human body digestive system.
Some surprising facts about Digestion
- It’s not the stomach that digests your meals. The stomach only carries the mechanical digestion, that is, it only agitates the food and mixes it along with other gastric juices to convert the food into a thick paste by breaking it. The small intestine digests the food.
- The second part of the intestine that carries the digestion task is known as jejunum.
- There are particular enzymes in the digestive system which separates the food in various nutrients required by the body.
- The stress levels and brain disorders come up with a deep impact on the digestion process. There is a gut-brain which exists between the brain and the digestive system.
- There is no gravitation force that applies to the food you eat. Hence, the body can also move the food in the digestive system even in the standing position while you are on your head.
- The enzymes that are advertised in the detergent powders for removing the stains, are the same as those you carry in the digestive system.
- The fermented bacteria from the digestive organs mix with the air when you pass outgas, which is the reason behind the filth smell.
- The growling of the stomach, also known as borborygmic occurs every time. But when it is louder, it means your stomach is empty.
- The stomach can stretch out and hold around 4 pounds of food at a time.
- For keeping the digestive tract in the right shape, aerobics is the best exercise.
Digestion – One of the important body functions
Are you experiencing constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, or any such health issues every now and then? Wait, your digestive system seems to be disturbed!
Yes, the digestive system is reliable for a number of health issues. Whether it is a headache or even back pain, there are various issues that are connected with an upset digestive system. No doubt, everyone suffers from some digestive issues like stomach upset, heartburn, gas, constipation, etc., which is quite occasional, but when it appears frequently, it can surely disturb your life.
Digestive System and Lifestyle. Do they have any connection?
Apart from the meals you have, the lifestyle you live also comes with a great impact on the digestive process and can also lead to some discomfort. There are various reasons for having a disturbing gut or digestive system and the lifestyle is among them. You can have control over some factors like having proper sleep, while others are not in your control like family history and genetics.
Hence, if you are suffering from often stomach issues, there are high chances that your poor lifestyle is hindering your gut health. Many times, people think that taking a balanced diet along with proper and regular exercise can help out in curing the digestive issues. But not only these two can help out for regulating the digestive system.
Here are some of the negative factors that have an impact on your digestive system.
- The meals and ingredients you eat
- Too much or too less eating without noticing the ingredients
- Avoiding regular exercises
- Daily dehydration
- Sleeping schedule
- Anxiety and Stress levels
- Over-the-counter or prescription medications
- Bad habits like alcohol or tobacco intake in excess, eating late night, etc.
Hence, your lifestyle also has some positive and negative impacts on your health or particularly the digestive system.
What are the possible digestive problems?
The list of digestive problems includes both common and serious issues. Where some issues can be easily managed with making changes in the lifestyle, others might need professional attention and proper medications. Here are the possible digestive issues.
- Acid reflux
- Crohn’s disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Gallbladder stones, etc.
What are the different signs that indicate digestive issues?
If you are observing the following signs, you might be having a digestive issue:
- Straining at the time of bowel movements
- Hard and dry stools
- Stomach pain
- Pain in the upper abdomen
- Swallowing issues
- Weight loss or weight gain
What are the causes that lead to digestive issues?
There are several causes that lead to digestive issues. The factors also vary according to the age of the individual. Here are the causes.
- Increased stress levels
- Intake of alcohol in excess
- Caffeine intake in excess
- Late-night consumption of food
- Toxins in the environment
- Avoiding chewing the food properly
- Particular medications
- Inactive lifestyle
- Diet with low fiber content
- Sensitivity to a particular food
- Poor sleep
- Genetic factors
There are some causes that can be managed easily by making particular changes in your lifestyle, but for some, you surely need to seek any medical help.
How can you improve the digestive system in a natural way?
Is your poor digestion constricting your life? Why look for heavy medications when it can be worked out easily and naturally! The digestive tract consistently works for breaking the food you have and digest it well. This is an essential process that is quite necessary. It is the digestive system that gets you all the important nutrients like fats, minerals, vitamins, calories, carbohydrates, and proteins which get absorbed by the walls of the intestine.
Hence, here are the possible ways of improving the digestive system naturally.
1. Start with chewing your food properly
The very first thing you need to work on is to chew your food properly. The digestion of the food starts from the mouth itself. Hence, when you chew the food properly, it makes the digestion process easier. The teeth break the food in small pieces which makes it easier for the enzymes to further break the food properly.
Poor chewing would lead to a decrease in the absorption of the nutrients which comes with a negative impact on the digestive system as well as the body. When the food is well chewed, it reduces the burden on the stomach while converting the solid meals to a liquid mixture. Again, along with proper chewing, make sure you have required saliva in your mouth which aids in proper digestion. This also reduces the chances of heartburn and indigestion. So, while eating, make sure you chew the food well.
2. Eat with your mind
There are many people who eat in a hurry without even noticing what is served in their plates. If this is avoided, it can lead to indigestion, gas, and bloating. For reducing the chances of developing any such issue, it is important to start practicing mindful eating. Pay attention to what you are eating along with the eating process.
For practicing this, have meals slowly, focus on the food and not on the TV or mobile phone, notice the look and the smell of your meals, select a proper portion of each bite intentionally, and check out on the temperature, taste, and texture of the food. Having your meals with the presence of your mind is much helpful to keep the digestive system healthy. So, enjoy your food properly while you have meals and you can surely improve digestion.
3. Work on your stress levels
Stress is something that comes with a direct connection to your digestive system. According to a study, IBS, constipation, diarrhea and stomach ulcers can also be a sign of too much stress. The stress hormones directly affect the digestive system. When your body is dealing with too many things working around you, you lack proper time to digest and rest. Again, during stress, the energy and blood both get abstracted from the digestive system.
As the mind and the digestive system are interconnected, the brain also comes with an impact on the digestion. So, manage your stress levels well. This can be carried out by practicing relaxation training, meditation, and stress management therapies which would reduce the stress levels and improve the digestion process also.
4. Don’t forget to drink water
Just as water is essential for other health issues, it is equally important for your digestive system. If the required amount of water is not taken, it can lead to constipation. It is recommended to have around 50 to 66 ounces that are around 1.5 to 2 liters of water on a daily basis. Along with water, one can also have other fluids like herbal teas, seltzer water, juices, etc. to meet the requirement of the water levels.
Again, the quantity of intake of fluids would also depend on the climate and while practicing exercises. Another additional way to increase the fluid level in your body is through particular vegetables and fruits like grapefruit, strawberries, melons, tomatoes, celery, zucchini, cucumber, peaches, etc. So, keep yourself hydrated to keep the digestive system healthy.
5. Walk and exercises
Do you know, even some gentle exercise is very helpful for your digestive system! Yes, being active is much helpful for the entire process of digestion. Talking a small walk after meals is quite effective for keeping the digestive system active. It would also reduce particular health issues like feeling full, bloating, nausea, etc.
Again, for the people looking for maintaining their weight, having a small walk after meals are quite effective. There are particular exercises that come with the best impact on the digestive system. Hence, regular exercises and walks are much effective in keeping the digestive system healthy and smooth functioning.
6. Avoid bad habits
Just as alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, and other caffeine are not good for your health, similarly, they also hinder the smooth functioning of the digestive system. Continuing all such bad habits can result in other health issues like heartburn, stomach ulcers, cancer, etc. So, try to skip such bad habits like excess of alcohol, caffeine, and even smoking. This would allow the digestive system to function smoothly.
7. Work on your sleeping hours
The hours you sleep comes with a deep impact on your digestive system. People suffering from insomnia, poor sleep, etc. are more likely to suffer from digestive issues like diarrhea, upset stomach, indigestion, stomach pain, etc. Inflammatory bowel disease is a common digestive issue faced by people who lack quality sleep. When an individual sleeps properly, the digestive system gets proper time to function on the meals taken. Hence, getting quality and sound sleep would come with improved results on the digestive system and its functioning.
Hence, by making minor changes in the lifestyle can come up with better results on the digestive system and help it maintain its functioning and health.
What food can help to improve digestion?
Apart from making changes in your lifestyle, you can also improve the digestive system by keeping a watch on the ingredients you are having in the meals. Yes, the food and fluids you have to boost the digestive system to a great extent. Here are some of the essential ingredients that help in improving the digestive system.
1. Look for some fiber-rich food – Whole Grains
Fiber or particularly soluble fiber is much essential for regulating the bowel movements which helps in the prevention of constipation. Fiber absorbs the water and makes the stool soft. This also prevents one from constipation. The insoluble fiber is similar to the scrub brush which eases the food movement in the intestine.
And the whole grains are rich in insoluble fiber that reduces the pressure on the intestines and also reduces the chances of having diverticular diseases. The whole grains are also rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants along with fiber and refined carbohydrates. So, look for ingredients like whole grains, oats, white bread, white rice, pasta, quinoa, barley, whole wheat, bulgur, teff, spelt, farro, etc.
2. Go for prebiotics and probiotics to improve digestion
Probiotics are essential bacteria that make the gut healthy. And prebiotics is the essential fibers for the bacteria which are obtained from a number of fruits, veggies and whole grains.
Probiotics are helpful in improving the functions of the intestine, alleviate the symptoms of lactose intolerance, and also eliminate the chances of developing various medical conditions. Probiotics are much helpful in curing issues like acute diarrhea, prevent diarrhea caused due to antibiotic as well as boost the lactose metabolism. For obtaining probiotics and prebiotics, look for ingredients like kombucha, kimchi, yogurt, fermented food items, pickles, tempeh, sauerkraut, kefir, etc.
3. Vegetables and Fruits
Veggies and fruits are much helpful as they provide us with various nutrients like antioxidants, phytochemicals, anti-inflammatory agents, minerals, and vitamins that boost the digestive system. They are also rich in soluble and insoluble fibers.
All these not only provide you with a full meal of fibers and nutrients. Having a full dish meal with veggies and fruits can reduce the chances of having ulcers, diarrhea, constipation, etc. So, add some essential fruits and veggies like green bananas, green leafy veggies, apples, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, apricots, raisins, carrots, prunes, and much more to your meals.
Again, it is essential to talk to your doctor before starting with any particular fruits or veggies as some need to be avoided when suffering from IBS.
4. Herbs and Spices Help Improve Digestion
Surprisingly, you many times have some herbs and spices but are not aware of the fact that they are helpful for your digestive system. Some of the herbs and spices in the list include asafetida, ginger, peppermint, etc. which are essential for a healthy digestive system.
Asafetida is a traditional medicine that comes with a strong smell. It boosts the functions of the digestive enzymes in the pancreas and the small intestine. Asafetida provides relief from stomach pressure, flatulence, loose stools, low acid levels, etc. On the other hand, ginger is rich in anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that help in issues like bloating, indigestion, digestive spasms, nausea, and alleviate gas too.
Peppermint provides quick treatment to the upset stomach. It aids in digestion when had heavy meals. The herbs and spices are helpful in reducing various health issues related to the digestive system.
However, while having the ingredients it is essential to check if you are having any discomfort in the abdomen like bloating, belching, etc. If any such symptom occurs, you should start avoiding the ingredients. Again, the intake of fried foods, fatty foods, beans, or any other fizzy drinks can also result in flatulence. Having some acidic items like grapefruit juice, tea, coffee, and some spicy food can also result in heartburn and stomachaches. So, check on what suits your digestive system and have it regularly.
Apart from all these, there are some ingredients that help with quick relief from various digestive issues. Having some mint tea, a gentle walk, or even a belly rub can be much helpful for working on the digestion process. Also having meals slowly, taking proper rest, etc. can boost the digestive system.
You are not the only person dealing with digestive issues. Again, older people suffer from digestive issues which are quite common. Everyone suffers from it at a particular time. While some digestive issues are quick to heal, there are some that need professional care to fix it. Eat well, sleep well, to keep your digestive system happy.
So, what are you going to add in your routine to keep your digestive system happy?