How to improve your digestion

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When it comes to improving your digestion, there are many things you can do to improve your gut health and keep your digestive tract running smoothly. Some are easy to implement, such as investing in one of best water bottles so you can stay hydrated, while others may take a little getting used to. If your digestive system is sluggish or struggling, you’ll find a series of helpful tips in this article.

We’ll walk you through what you can do to boost your digestion, from eating more fiber and exercising more, to reducing unnecessary food triggers and lifestyle factors that cause constipation, gas and bloating. Plus, we’ve got everything you need to know about probiotics, including what are probiotics and how do they workwhether they are worth taking as a dietary supplement.

If you’re wondering how to improve your digestion, you’ll find the tips and tricks below very helpful to get you started on the right track. From exercise to mindful eating, here’s everything you need to know…

Tips to improve your digestion

The following lifestyle tips can help improve your digestive health, reduce symptoms associated with slow digestion, and improve your overall well-being.

Eat more fiber

Eating more fiber will help you stay regular and make stools softer and easier to pass, reducing your risk of constipation and improving the health of your digestive system. the United States Department of Agriculture(USDA) recommends 25g of dietary fiber for women and 38g of fiber for men each day, but Americans only eat about half that on average. Fiber-rich foods include cherries, peppers, and wholegrain versions of bread, pasta, and rice.

Exercise more

Exercising daily can help improve your bowel function and reduce bloating. It can also help relieve stress, which in turn affects digestion.

De-stress

Stress can trigger problems in the digestive system, causing diarrhea, constipation and inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS). Try to get more sleep if you can and use relaxing activities, such as meditation or massage, to help reduce stress in your daily life.

Best sleeping position: Woman sleeping on her back

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Cut out tummy upset foods

Foods that are a surefire shortcut for digestive issues are off limits. Avoid fizzy sodas, too much coffee, rich, spicy foods, and foods that are more likely to cause gas and bloating, such as beans.

Eat mindfully

A study published in Opinion on Obesity shows that slowing down the way you chew and swallow your food can really help boost weight loss. Other research published in Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Diary reveals that scientists are also exploring how it can also improve digestion.

Either way, common sense tells us that when we eat our food without chewing it properly, it leads to more gas and bloating. Taking the time to sit up properly and chew your food slowly will help you take in less air while eating. And you’ll probably find that you enjoy the food you eat more, too!

Drink more water

Why is water important? Well, for starters, it can help flush toxins from your digestive system and reduce your chances of constipation. It’s especially important to drink more water if you’re increasing your dietary fiber intake or stepping up your exercise routine. Although there are no official daily guidelines for water consumption, experts in the Mayo Clinic generally recommend that adults drink about 6-8 glasses of water a day.

Pregnant woman drinking a glass of water in the kitchen at home.  - stock photo

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Consult a doctor

Never take problems with your digestive system lightly, especially if you have an underlying health condition. If your digestive system is causing you pain or discomfort, or affecting your daily activities, see a doctor. Your doctor can help you determine if you have another condition that needs treatment, such as ulcers or IBS.

Foods that can improve your digestion

Food plays an extremely important role in the functioning of our digestive system. Thus, it is possible to use food as a tool to improve our digestive functions, and much more.

Wondering what foods can boost your digestive system and overall well-being? According to Medicine Johns Hopkins, there are five foods you can eat to give a sluggish digestive system the boost it needs. These include:

Whole foods

Forget white rice, pastas and breads and opt for wholemeal alternatives such as brown rice, grain breads and wholemeal pastas. The increased fiber content of these foods will encourage your digestive cells to produce the fatty acids your gut needs to help the colon function properly.

Leafy greens

All green and leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale and Swiss chard, are also excellent sources of fiber. But they also contain vitamins and minerals essential for a healthy digestive system, such as vitamins C, K and A and folate. According to John Hopkins they also contain a sugar that helps the “good” bacteria in your gut thrive, improving your gut microbiome.

Bunches of leafy greens

(Image credit: Leafy Greens photo via Shutterstock)

lean protein

Lean meats, like chicken and turkey, are better than fatty red meats, like beef or pork. This is because the high fat content of these meats can trigger the colon to contract and produce “bad” bacteria in the gut, increasing the risk of producing chemicals that clog arteries.

Low Fructose Fruits

Low-fructose fruits are easier for your body to tolerate and reduce the risk of producing too much gas and bloating. Opt for berries and citrus fruits rather than apples, pears and mangoes.

Lawyer

Lawyer is high in fiber and contains lots of vitamins and minerals that help the digestive system to function healthily, such as potassium. As with any food, eat in moderation. Avocados can be high in fat, although it is a heart-healthy fat.

Should I take probiotic supplements to improve my digestion?

Probiotics are “good” bacteria that already exist naturally in the body. They help balance bad bacteria in the gut to help your digestive system work well. Although you can find probiotics in certain foods, some experts suggest that taking a probiotic supplement can help boost your digestion and immune system.

woman eating probiotic yogurt for weight loss

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Probiotic supplements are generally considered safe to take, but they are not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means it’s hard to know if you’re consuming enough probiotics to have an effect.

You may instead prefer to focus on getting more probiotic foods to support your gut in your diet. Foods that naturally contain probiotics include:

  • Yogurts
  • Kefir
  • Soft cheeses
  • Soy foods, such as tempeh and miso
  • Kimchi
  • Unpasteurized Sauerkraut

If you decide to take a probiotic supplement because of digestive issues, check with your doctor first. the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health recommends that anyone with a serious underlying health condition be monitored while taking probiotics.


References

Cherpak, EC (2019). Mindful eating: an examination of how the stress-digestion-mindfulness triad can modulate and improve gastrointestinal and digestive functions. Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Diary, 18(4), 48–53. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7219460/

Fuentes Artiles, R., Staub, K., Aldakak, L., Eppenberger, P., Rühli, F., & Bender, N. (2019). Mindful eating and common dietary programs similarly reduce body weight: systematic review and meta‐analysis. Obesity Opinions, 20(11), 1619–1627. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/obr.12918

Johns Hopkins University. (2022). 5 foods to improve your digestion. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved April 14, 2022, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/5-foods-to-improve-your-digestion

Online nutritional resources at your fingertips. (2015, March 31). USDA. Retrieved April 14, 2022, from https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2015/03/31/online-nutrition-resources-your-fingertips

Probiotics: what you need to know. (2019). NCCIH. Retrieved April 14, 2022, from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics-what-you-need-to-know

Water: how much should you drink each day? (2020, October 14). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved April 14, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256?reDate=14042022

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