Your digestive system is a crucial aspect of your healthy functioning. If this system breaks down or starts performing poorly for some reason, it is bound to affect your overall health. Primarily, you will suffer from crippling nutritional deficiencies.
However, you may struggle with other lifestyle-related issues, such as insomnia, where you will have to pop sleeping pills or constant fatigue that doesn’t let you step out of your bed!
While we all experience mild stomach or gastrointestinal issues now and then, the frequent occurrence of these issues could be an indication of an underlying problem. Or worse, it could lead to a significant health concern.
Fortunately, here are a few tips that you can incorporate for a healthier gut:
Consume “Real” Food
At some point, we’ve all learned about the Balanced Diet. But how often do we implement it in our lives? Unfortunately, Western diets are chock-full of processed food items, refined carbs, food additives, and saturated and trans fats.
As a result of such poor food habits, your digestive health ends up taking a backseat. Furthermore, it upsets your gut bacteria culture. Hence, you become more susceptible to conditions such as Crohn’s disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and ulcerative colitis.
While such junk foods may be more affordable, accessible, and tasty, one must only have it to a specific limit. Instead, opt for whole grains and minimally processed foods. Include a lot of fruits and vegetables in your diet, both cooked and raw.
Load Up on Fibers
Another significant advantage of having whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables is its high fiber content. It is well-known that fiber is a natural stool softener and keeps the food moving along your intestines.
Soluble fibers help form a gel-like substance that grants the perfect consistency to your stools. On the other hand, insoluble fibers, aka roughage, can bulk up your stools and make them easier to pass.
You can find these fibers in seeds, legumes, and oat bran. Whole grains, vegetables, wheat bran are excellent sources of insoluble fibers.
Have Healthy Fats
Despite the bad reputation fats get, in general, they are essential for your body. However, the fats in question are “healthy fats.” Healthy fats promote satiety and aid nutrient absorption. Including omega-3s in your meals can prevent inflammatory bowel diseases, like ulcerative colitis.
You get healthy fats in nuts, oily and fatty fishes, and, of course, olive oil. And while it is crucial to have healthy fats, it is equally vital to cut down unhealthy fats. Thus, you may have to pull the brakes on those fries!
One cannot stress enough about the importance of drinking water. Low fluid intake is a typical cause of constipation. Health experts suggest that an adult must daily consume about 1.5 to 2 liters of non-caffeinated fluids. This requirement may go up if you live in warmer climates or participate in strenuous exercises.
Apart from regular water, you also need fluids to replenish your bodily electrolytes. Unsweetened fruit juice with pulp or veggie smoothies can be an excellent way to achieve this goal. Alternatively, eating water-loaded fruits or vegetables, such as melons, cucumbers, tomatoes, oranges, zucchini, strawberries, etc. can also keep you hydrated.
Add Prebiotics and Probiotics to Your Diet
Including prebiotics and probiotics can help improve gut health. Prebiotics are a source of nutrition for probiotics, while probiotics support the growth of healthy bacteria and yeast culture naturally present in your digestive tract.
Together, they keep the body healthy from physical stresses and illnesses. In addition to strengthening immunity, they can boost nutrient absorption, break down lactose, and may even treat conditions like IBS.
You will find prebiotics in raw fruits, whole grains, legumes, and vegetables. On the other hand, popular probiotics include kefir, low-fat yogurt, and kimchi.
Practice Mindful Eating
Mindfulness while eating involves being aware and paying attention to the entire process of having meals. It calls for eating consciously and purposefully. You will have to take small bites, chew your food correctly, and keep all distractions aside.
All your attention and energy must be focused on the act of eating. Concentrate on your hunger and look for any satiety clues.
Quite often, the brain takes about 20 minutes to register that the stomach is full. Hence, stop eating right before the point where you feel full.
Additionally, you need to open up all your senses while eating and enjoy the taste, temperature, and texture of the food. Thus, rather than merely chewing and washing down your food, you will have to treat eating like a complete meditative experience.
Regular exercise can give your body’s metabolism a boost. As a result, food travels more quickly and efficiently through your digestive tract, thereby keeping it in the prime of its health.
You could indulge in anything, from on-spot walking to HIIT at the gym, as either of the two (or anything in between) will boost digestion, counter inflammation, and fight symptoms of constipation.
If you are not very fond of traditional “exercising,” then you can go for yoga poses that promote digestion, such as the Bridge pose or the Supine Twist. The point is to keep your body moving and get a boost from gravity.
Plus, when you make regular exercise a habit, it can also help in maintaining weight, which will be great for your digestive tract.
To maintain a healthy digestive tract, you may have to incorporate other lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking and drinking and improved stress-handling capabilities. While the former results in heartburn and acid reflux, the latter builds a poor relationship with food and may wreck your eating habits.
Furthermore, you must also follow a strict schedule for having meals. This regularity tunes up your digestive tract to secrete digestive juices at a set time.
At the same time, you must also space out your last meal considerably from the time when you go to sleep. Late-night eating and signing off to bed will only result in indigestion and heartburn.
With the above tips, you can now enjoy a healthy digestive tract!