5 things you can do now to support healthy digestion
The digestive system is one of the most important parts of the body, responsible for absorbing nutrients from the foods we eat and eliminating waste products from our bodies. In order to support digestive health, it’s important to follow a few simple habits. We listed our top five things you can do now to support healthy digestion. These steps don’t require much time or effort, but they can make a big difference in how you feel over the long-term.
1. Eat mindfully
Many people aren’t aware of how they are eating their food. Many tend to eat on autopilot while doing other things. A good way to begin supporting your digestion is by paying attention to how you are actually eating. Focus more on chewing, taking smaller bites, and even putting down your fork between bites. Mindful eating can help digestion and prevent you from overeating because you will become more in tune with when you’re full – which is usually before you realise it.
2. Boost your fibre intake
Consuming a high-fibre diet is one of the best things you can do for your digestion. Fibre allows food and waste products in your intestine to move more easily through your digestive tract. In addition, fibre feeds gut-friendly bacteria that help keep bad bacteria from taking over. Fibre also regulates bowel movements and helps lower cholesterol levels. Aim for 25–35 grams of fibre daily by eating fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. Be sure to drink enough water to support fibre digestion and avoid insoluble fibres like whole wheat if you have irritable bowel syndrome.
3. Try probiotics
Studies show that probiotics can positively impact your digestion, among other things. For example, studies have shown that they can reduce bloating after eating, so if you experience digestive discomfort or have a sensitive stomach, it might be helpful to try taking a probiotic supplement. In addition to helping with digestive discomfort, they’ve also been known to relieve nausea and vomiting during pregnancy and support immune function. However, it is important that you consult with your doctor before taking one just in case there are any contraindications with any of your medications.
4. Be aware of your triggers
Not all of us experience digestive distress in exactly the same way, and some trigger foods and drinks may only affect some people. Common triggers include stress, certain fruit and vegetables (especially broccoli), beans, carbonated beverages and alcohol. If you suspect that a particular food or drink triggers your digestive problems, avoid it for a few weeks and see if you notice any changes. If so, add it back in but only on occasion and perhaps with some modifications such as smaller portions.
5. Stay hydrated
Water is one of those boring things we tend to overlook. But our bodies are made up of a majority water and need it to remain healthy. Try adding lemon or cucumber slices into your water for a boost of flavour. A big part of our body’s ability to digest food is related to how much water we drink. Dehydration can lead to indigestion and heartburn, as well as other health issues. If you find that you’re regularly experiencing uncomfortable digestion, try making an effort to stay hydrated throughout your day.
Seeking support for digestive health
Although digestive issues are often caused by dietary habits, they can sometimes be a sign of more serious issues. Eosinophilic esophagitis, for example, is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that can cause food to be poorly digested because it damages the throat and stomach. Those with celiac disease have an immune response to wheat gluten that creates damage in their digestive system along with other problems. Inflammatory bowel diseases include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. There are also cases in which the only medical issue is allergies to certain foods, such as peanuts or shellfish.
You can get an overview of your digestive health with our nutritional therapy plan or digestion & nutrition essentials plan. These include key health markers pertaining to your digestive health, including gluten and lactose intolerance. However, if you are concerned about your symptoms, you should consult your doctor.