/ By Enozia Vakil, freelance writer, India /
Apart from giving you good instincts, your gut has another, much more important job-and that’s ensuring that every part of your body gets the energy and nutrients it requires by performing digestive tasks. Sadly, however, the consumption of processed, packaged foods has taken a toll on the system, and has impaired the ability of the digestive system to break down food, causing several digestive problems like indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, bloating etc. Sounds like you? You’re not alone.
Statistics have pointed out to a steady increase in the number of individuals suffering from digestive problems including food intolerance; and a chaotic lifestyle coupled with a poor diet are to blame for that.
So the question remains, what do you do? Well, thankfully, we’ve made things easier-read below to find some quick and easy steps you can take to improve your digestive health and boost your gut health. Read on…
High fat? Go easy- From the bag of chips on your kitchen shelf to the yummy, cheesy burger from the fast food joint on the next block; everything today is loaded with fats. While fats do form an important constituent of our diet, eating foods that contain saturated (bad) fats, could lead to many digestive problems like constipation, indigestion and bloating.
Prolonged consumption of such foods has been linked to several other potentially dangerous health problems.; which is why, sticking to natural foods for your fat requirement is recommended. Always try to choose natural sources of fat like milk and milk products, and nuts to fulfill your body’s fat requirements. Another idea is to pair up high fat foods with foods that are rich in fiber-that way, the extent of damage to the digestive system will be minimized.
Get the probiotic power- The gut is a home to many beneficial bacteria that carry out the process of digestion impeccably and in perfect co-ordination; however, due to bacterial infections, diarrhea, improper lifestyle and a poor diet, the digestive balance could turn upset and impair the digestive system of its ability to function.
Several other factors can also play a pivotal role in stripping your digestive system of its natural ability to function, and can cause poor digestive health-
- Insufficient fiber in the diet
- Exposure to toxins
- Antibiotics are other medications
- Consumption of processed foods
From tabloids to TV commercials, probiotics have received their share of good publicity; and probably everyone today is aware of the benefits of taking probiotics to supplement their diet. Basically, probiotics are a mixture of ‘good’ bacteria that help the digestive system work better. Taking probiotics before your meal can help maintain a healthy gut and offer many other health benefits like-
- Improved digestion
- Better immunity
- Stabilized blood sugar levels
- Lowered blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Improved mineral absorption
- Reduced risk of cancer
Fiber it up! Fiber is an important constituent of your meals, and plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy digestive system-basically, fiber is responsible for adding bulk to the stools, and ensuring that the waste is properly eliminated from the body. A high-fiber diet will not just keep your digestive system healthy, but it can also prevent many related problems like constipation, hemorrhoids, diverticulum, irritable bowel syndrome etc.
Add more fiber-rich foods like carrots, beet, green leafy vegetables, apples, watermelon, oranges, sweet melon etc. to your diet.
Hydrate- Water makes up for 70 percent of your body; and we need not explain how important it is for your body. Keeping your liquid intake high can help assist your digestive system in its various processes and best of all, act as a natural detoxifying agent which helps the body get rid of the toxins, chemicals and additives that clog into the body after years and years of eating junk food.
Practice mindful eating- Mindful eating is a branch of alternative medicine that is getting increasingly popular around the world, especially today, when most of us lead a fast-paced life with no time to tend to ourselves. Basically, mindful eating works on the principle ‘you are what you eat.’ Practitioners recommend eating slowly and steadily, with no distractions around you-give your full attention to what you are eating and make use of all your senses in the simple process of eating. This simple act is thought to make the process of digestion easier and less hard on the stomach.
Chew- Yes, that’s right-it’s as simple as that. Believe it or not, the process of digestion starts right when you bite into the first morsel-your salivary glands start secreting enzymes as and when you chew, which helps make food simpler for the fragile stomach to digest. Remember that it is the action of chewing that stimulates the salivary glands to secrete the enzymes; so if you’re someone who tends to gulp down food without actually chewing it, keep in mind that you’re overworking your stomach.
Work it out! Obesity and other related lifestyle disorders are increasing in occurrence today, and that’s an issue of concern since most of us tend to live on packaged, processed foods. To top that, we’ve adopted a sedentary lifestyle, which has added to the severity of the condition.
For all those couch potatoes out there, here’s a wake-up call- leading a lifestyle that barely has any physical activity can not just increase your chances of putting on weight, but also lead to digestive problems such as indigestion and constipation.
Regular moderate exercise is beneficial in many ways; it keeps the digestive system healthy, aids fat burning, increases the intake of oxygen into the body and thereby helps keep the organs healthy.
Get these- Mother Nature is the biggest healer-you don’t need those expensive medications and supplements to be healthy, just making a few changes to your diet is enough. Some foods and herbs, in their natural form, are thought to improve digestive function-adding more of these to your daily diet can help you keep your gut healthy. We’ve listed some of them below-
- Green leafy vegetables
- Soy beans
- Whole oats
- Cayenne pepper