Symptoms of digestion issues
You can improve your digestion and the health of your digestive system naturally by making diet and lifestyle changes. Making the right dietary changes can help you prevent common digestive issues like gas, diarrhea, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Digestion issues may be an indication of mild conditions like indigestion, or severe ones like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), cancer, lactose intolerance, and hiatal hernia.
Sometimes, your digestive system may not be working as it should, causing issues like indigestion and more. Some of the things that should tell you that you have a problem with your digestion include:
- Stomach ache
- Feeling like your stomach is full
- Feeling sick
- Passing gas
- Acid reflux (a bitter fluid or food coming back up to your mouth)
- Heartburn (getting a burning sensation in your chest, mostly after eating)
Foods that will improve your digestion
Eating some foods can help to improve your digestive system. Some of them include:
Whole grains. Whole grains (like brown rice, brown bread) contain more fiber and nutrients than refined grains and food made with them (like pasta, white rice, and white bread). The “good bacteria” found in your gut ferment the fiber in whole grain and produce short fatty acids that keep the colon cells healthy. Fiber helps your digestive tract work more efficiently. Whole grains also contain essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids.
Low-fructose fruits. High-fructose (fruit sugar) fruits like mangoes, apples, and pears cause gas and bloating. Consider low-fructose fruits like oranges, berries, and grapefruit to avoid these issues. Their low fruit sugar content is easier for your gut to digest. Other fruits like bananas contain huge amounts of fiber and a substance called inulin, which promotes the growth of good gut bacteria.
Green leafy vegetables. Green leafy vegetables like kale or spinach contain huge amounts of fiber content and nutrients like folate and vitamins A, C, and K. These leafy vegetables promote the growth and efficiency of the gut bacteria involved in digestion.
Avocados. Avocados are known to have numerous health benefits. They are also low-fructose fruits and contain a lot of fiber. Avocado is easy for your stomach to tolerate and helps avoid gas. High fiber and potassium content promotes digestion and the health of your digestive tract.
Lean protein. Lean proteins contain lower fat content than fatty meats. That makes lean protein a healthier option. This type of protein is preferred for people with bowel sensitivity or internal bowel syndrome. Red meats (beef, pork, and lamb) often have a high-fat content that can cause colon contractions.
Lifestyle changes to help improve digestion
Implementing some lifestyle changes can improve digestive efficiency. These changes include regular physical exercise, avoiding extremely spicy food, and drinking adequate fluids.
Exercise. Regular physical exercise helps move food and waste efficiently through your gastrointestinal tract. Consider activities as simple as walking weekly. Making this part of your routine may help you make your digestive system healthy.
Avoid excessively spicy food. While many people prefer spicy food, others may experience stomach upset, heartburn, or even diarrhea after eating spicy food. If you are one of them, try to avoid foods that contain spices like chilies, garlic, and onions.
Drink adequate fluids. Always make sure that you drink enough fluids, especially water. Fluids help promote the transport of waste through your digestive tract. It also helps to make your bowel movements softer. The fiber absorbs moisture making it easier to pass stools without causing constipation. Try to avoid drinks containing caffeine. Caffeine is known to cause heartburn.
Other tips to improve your digestion naturally
Other tips to improve your digestion naturally
Other tips that you can use every day to improve your digestion include:
- Try to eat about five fruit and vegetable servings daily. Try getting adventurous when it comes to choosing fruits and vegetables. Choose different colors and kinds, as many as you can find.
- Choose healthier cooking methods. Use moist-cooking methods like stewing, steaming, braising, poaching, boiling, or microwaving when you cook. These methods are healthier options than frying and grilling. Also, always make sure you thoroughly cook meat to reduce the risk of bacterial contaminants like salmonella.
- Eat foods that contain probiotics. Probiotics are “healthy bacteria” that help prevent the development of “unhealthy bacteria” in your gut. The good bacteria also produce chemicals that keep the gut working efficiently.
- Develop a routine. Consider eating around the same time every day. Your gut may work better if you implement an eating schedule.
- Try eating smaller portions. Eating in moderation promotes digestion by not overfilling the stomach. Overeating may lead to reflux. The food you've eaten may even come back up.
- Keep consumption of sugary and fatty foods at a minimum. Try to eat foods that are low in sugar to avoid the gut issues that may be caused by sugar. Sugars can cause bloating and damage of the gastrointestinal tract after consumption for a long time. Also, avoid animal fats (like poultry skin) and high-fat dairy (like cheese and butter).
- Eat properly. When eating, make sure that you chew your food well before swallowing. Proper chewing may prevent consuming a lot of air, thus, helping your body to sense better whether you are full.
- Manage stress. Stress can make it harder for your body to execute the process of digestion. To avoid this, try to find healthy ways to manage your stress. Consider methods like breathing, exercise, relaxation, and mindfulness.
Getting digestive issues like gas, diarrhea, heartburn, and constipation from time to time is normal. However, if these conditions happen more frequently, they may have huge effects on your lifestyle.
If you are experiencing symptoms like chronic pain and suspect you may be having a digestive disorder, consider calling your doctor for medical attention.
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Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Cleveland Clinic: "How to Improve Your Digestive Tract Naturally."
National Institutes of Health: "Keeping Your Gut in Check."
NHS: "Good foods to help your digestion," "Indigestion."
PIH Health: "Healthy Digestive Foods."
The Johns Hopkins University: "5 Foods to Improve Your Digestion," "Digestive Disorders."
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