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How to Improve Your Digestive Health

How to Improve Your Digestive Health

More than 62 million Americans are diagnosed with a digestive disorder each year. Some examples include gastroesophageal reflux disease, lactose intolerance, and irritable bowel syndrome.

While it’s hard to prevent them completely, there are steps that you can take to improve your digestive health. That way, you won’t have to rely on medications as much.

Interested? Want to improve your digestion? If so, you’re at the right place. We’ll be going over everything that you need to know about how to boost your colon health below.

Keep reading to learn more!

1. Eat Plenty of Fiber

Dietary fiber is super important when it comes to your digestive system. It’ll keep your bowel movements regular, which will help clean the colon of undigested foods and other waste products.

There are two main types: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. The former absorbs water, which helps add bulk to your stool while the latter helps keep everything moving along.

Some foods that are rich in soluble fiber include oats, avocados, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and sweet potato. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, can be found in whole grains, nuts, potatoes, and wheat germ.

How much fiber should you eat per day? At least 21-25 grams for women and 30-38 grams for men, with about one-fourth coming from soluble fiber.

2. Quit Smoking

Smoking can harm your digestive system in several ways. For one thing, it can weaken the esophageal sphincter; this can cause the stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus, which can greatly increase your risk of developing gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Not only that, but smokers are also more likely to develop peptic ulcers. The risk of infection from Helicobacter pylori, a type of bacteria that’s commonly found in ulcers, is also higher.

It’s also associated with a higher risk of liver disease, pancreatitis, and gallstones. That’s not all, it can also increase your risk of certain cancers including those of the mouth, stomach, esophagus, and pancreas.

Given all that, there’s no reason not to quit.

3. Incorporate Probiotics Into Your Diet

Probiotics are live microorganisms that help promote a healthy gut. For starters, they play a crucial role in food digestion. Not only do they break down indigestible fibers, which helps to prevent gas and bloating, but they also produce beneficial fatty acids and vitamins.

On top of that, they help with nutrient absorption. For example, they can help with the absorption of iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. That way, you’ll get more out of the foods you eat.

What’s more, is that they can improve the symptoms of various digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

You can find probiotics in many fermented foods such as miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, and pickles. Natural supplements (e.g. KaraMD Supplements) are an option as well.

4. Eat a Healthy Diet

Avoid foods that are high in saturated fats—things like whipped cream, fatty meats, and desserts. Studies have shown that they can change the bacterial communities in the gut and that can lead to increased inflammation.

The same goes for trans fats, which are found in many processed foods such as pizzas and doughnuts. Not only are they bad for your heart, but they can increase your risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease as well.

Similarly, you want to stay away from additives such as glucose and sweeteners. They can contribute to a condition called leaky gut in which bacteria and toxins are able to leak through the intestinal lining. Left untreated, it can lead to chronic diarrhea and nutritional deficiencies.

What should you eat instead? Vegetables, nuts, and whole grains.

5. Stay Hydrated

As a general rule, you want to drink 30 to 50 ounces—about four to six glasses—of water per day. Contrary to popular belief, it will not dilute the digestive juices in the stomach.

Rather, it’ll allow the nutrients from the food to be absorbed properly (the water will help break down the nutrients). It’ll also help prevent constipation by softening the stools.

For those who don’t like plain water, you can opt for non-caffeinated beverages instead. For example, you can meet your fluid intake needs by drinking herbal teas or seltzer water.

Certain fruits and vegetables such as cucumbers, melons, tomatoes, zucchinis, peaches, and grapefruits are also high in water content.

6. Manage Your Stress

Stress is associated with many digestive disorders from inflammatory bowel syndrome to stomach ulcers. Not only that, but it can also lead to cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and constipation.

Why? Stress hormones have a direct effect on digestion. When you’re stressed, blood and energy will be diverted away from the digestive system; this will delay the emptying of the stomach and that can lead to various symptoms such as indigestion, nausea, and heartburn.

It can also exacerbate pre-existing gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome.

That’s why it’s so important to manage your stress. Consider incorporating stress management techniques such as yoga or meditation into your daily routine, if necessary.

Improving Your Digestive Health

As you can see, there are several things that you can do to improve your digestive health, from eating high-fiber foods to managing your stress. If anything, it’ll benefit your overall health as well—after all, everything is connected!

Did you find these tips helpful? If so, you’ll be happy to know that we have more health-related posts like this in our blog. Check it out today!

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