When your digestion isn’t on track, it feels like your whole body is taking a hit. Whether you’re bloated, constipated, or dealing with diarrhea, an upset digestive tract can really throw a wrench in your plans. Although some problems cannot be avoided entirely, there are things you can do to minimize your risk of having intestinal discomfort and upset.
Do these things every day to keep your gut healthy:
- Drink plenty of water. Yes, you know it’s important, but it is one of the best things you can do for your digestion and your whole health in general. Water helps keep your stool soft so you can avoid constipation and bloating. It keeps your kidneys and bladder flushed out regularly. It helps your body break down food for easier digestion. One exception: If you’ve been told to restrict fluids or recently had bariatric surgery, talk with your doctor about how much water you should drink each day.
- Eat lots of fiber, but increase gradually. Most of us are not getting the recommended 20 to 35 grams per day of fiber. Fiber is great for digestion because it helps “clean out” your intestines and colon by bulking up stool. But eating too much, too quickly, especially with fiber supplements, can make you bloated and cause gas and discomfort. Read food labels for fiber content, and choose “whole grain” options whenever available. Fruits and vegetables are one of the best sources for natural fiber that have many other health benefits as well, including a lower risk of colon cancer.
- Find ways to reduce stress and decompress. It’s no secret that your digestive system often suffers when you’re stressed. You may feel nauseous, lose your appetite, and may even have diarrhea or vomiting in more severe instances. It can also make an existing ulcer worse. Look into ways that you can alleviate stress in your life, whether it’s finding a healthy activity you enjoy or simply doing deep breathing exercises when you feel your stress levels rise.
- Consider eating more fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut. These foods contain good bacteria, known as probiotics, which may improve digestion and even boost immunity. Studies are still being done to determine the benefits of probiotic supplements, but eating fermented foods is a safe and effective way to boost your own friendly gut flora. In the case of yogurt and kefir, make sure it says “live and active cultures” on the package. Some of these products are pasteurized after culturing, which would kill any beneficial bacteria and negate their benefits.
Following a healthy diet and lifestyle can pay off in more ways than one. Not only can it keep your digestion running smoothly, it may also reduce your risk of other diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Do yourself a favor by committing to eat healthful foods and taking care of your digestion. See your physician for regular checkups, and talk to a gastroenterologist about any concerns you have with your digestive system.
CarePoint Health Gastroenterology
Our skilled gastroenterologists treat a wide range of gastrointestinal conditions using state-of-the-art technology. For more information about our comprehensive gastroenterology services, please contact us.
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.