Digestive system, undoubtedly, plays an important role in the harmonious functioning of the body. After all, it digests and breaks down the food and makes the nutrients absorbable by the body and provides the required energy. As all the systems of the body are inter-related, proper functioning of each is crucial for total health.
However, the digestive system being directly involved with food and nutrition forms an essential component of healthy living. Any hindrance in its normal functioning leads to improper supply of nutrients to the body and eventually leads to a lot of diseases. If the food is not properly digested, the body is deprived of the healthy nutrients present in it and thus, the overall growth and development begins to decline.
Moreover, the toxic waste matter that needs to be excreted after the complete absorption of food and nutrients have taken place, will be affected if the digestive system is not functioning adequately leading to accumulation of the harmful toxins within the body. Hence, a healthy digestive system is vital for good health.
Signs of unhealthy digestion
Every one of us must have experienced indigestion, acidity, bloating, flatulence, constipation or diarrhea at some point of time. Usually, these symptoms are mild and temporary owing to certain carelessness in food habits and can be easily tackled by the body’s immune reaction. However, due to continued lazy lifestyles or bad eating habits, these symptoms of unhealthy digestion go unnoticed as people get used to their presence in their lives and are taken as common, normal stomach conditions. It is then, that the adverse effects of sluggish or overactive bowel begin to gradually intensify and involve other organs of the body and ill health or illness ensues.
Your Guide to a healthy gut
Nature has provided many foods that can help and heal the gastrointestinal system and through simple modifications in your diet and lifestyle, you can reduce the digestive discomfort and obtain a healthy gut. The following tips will guide you towards optimum digestive health to help you carry out your daily activities with regained vigor and vitality.
- Lemon juice: Start your day with a glass of freshly prepared lemon juice by squeezing 1-2 lemons in about 300 ml of water. This will help clean the stomach of any excess acid or unwanted remains of food stuff.
- Eat fibrous foods: Including fiber rich food or roughage in your diet such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, cereals, nuts etc boosts your digestive system as it adds bulk to your stools making fecal excretion easy and smooth. This prevents accumulation of gas or toxins in the stomach and keeps constipation, bloating, flatulence, acidity etc away.
- Water intake: As much as proper diet is essential for a healthy stomach, so is the water intake. Less water leads to harder stool and slow elimination of waste products thereby, worsening the digestion process. Drinking plenty of fluids is also, vital for maintaining the electrolyte balance necessary for healthy gut functioning. Do not consume aerated drinks, alcohol or coffee as these drinks cause dehydration and worsen the digestion.
- Avoid heavy, fatty food: Foods with high fat content may be a treat for your palate but they are difficult to digest and cause undue pressure on the stomach leading to hyperacidity or heartburn. The high amount of fat present in the fried foods overload the gut and reduce its digesting capacity and as a result, excess fat goes undigested and unabsorbed leading to fatty, pale colored stools called steatorrhea. Steatorrhea, if left untreated, can cause many severe gastrointestinal problems such as irritable bowel syndrome. Try substituting butter or cheese with olive oil to ease off the pressure off your gut.
- Add dairy products to your diet: Dairy products such as yoghurt or cottage cheese contain probiotics or healthy bacteria that aid in digestion and improve intestinal function. In case you are lactose intolerant or suffering from celiac disease, Crohn’s disease etc., staying away from dairy products is advisable for you as the lack of enzyme lactase in your body will hamper the breakdown of lactose sugar found in milk which can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating.
- Physical activity: Exercising improves the digestion as it promotes blood circulation to all the organs including those of the digestive tract and stimulates the gastrointestinal muscles to work efficiently and smoothly. It also, tones up the digestive system and assists in propelling the food forwards. Self-massaging the stomach or liver areas also, enhances the blood circulation specifically in these areas and facilitates digestion.
- Fish and lean proteins: Fishes contain omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids that are very beneficial for digestive health and helps prevent many gastric troubles by reducing inflammations. Other leaner proteins like pork, chicken or turkey are equally helpful as they contain high protein but less amount of fat and thus, are easy to digest.
- Eat slowly: Eating slowly with proper chewing breaks down the food and sends signals to the stomach to secrete the digestive juices for smooth mechanism of digestion. Also, the stomach takes a while to realize its capacity and send signals to the brain, chewing slowly gives a full feeling to the stomach and prevents indulging into overeating.
- Weight control: Keeping a check on your weight is essential for a healthy digestive system as obesity or abnormal weight gain puts extra pressure on the stomach resulting in GERD (gastrointestinal reflux disease) which is characterized by reflux of gastric acid into the esophagus casing heartburn and acidity.
- Abstinence from smoking and alcohol: Smoking and alcohol tend to irritate the mucosal lining of the stomach and affect its functioning capacity. In addition, the irritated and inflamed mucosal lining prevents proper absorption of nutrients from the digested food and this affects overall nutrition of the body.
With these 10 handy and easy to implement tips as your guiding light, you can transform your upset stomach into a healthy setup and enjoy a higher quality of life.