10 Healthy Tips to Improve Your Digestive System
How to Aid Digestion Naturally
Digestion is the way your body breaks down food particles to be absorbed into the blood stream. Unfortunately, there are a number of things which disturb the digestive process, resulting in complications such as excess gas, bloating, nausea, constipation and diarrhea. If you would like to minimize these unpleasant symptoms and improve your digestive health, you can easily do so by making a few minor changes to your diet and lifestyle. Consider these suggestions to help aid digestion naturally.
Improving Your Diet
Increase your fiber intake.Fiber is your best friend when it comes to digestion. It increases the size and softness of your stool, making it easier to pass and preventing constipation.
- Fiber also regulates blood sugar levels by slowing down digestion and allowing glucose from food to enter your blood stream at a slower rate.
- Increase your fiber intake by eating high fiber foods such as oatmeal and bran cereal, legumes such as lentils, black beans and pinto beans, and nuts such as peanuts, walnuts and pecans. High fiber fruits like berries, prunes, dried apricots, raisins, pears and apples (with the skins on) are also good choices.
- Alternatively (or additionally) you can take a daily fiber supplement to help with digestion.
Avoid fatty foods.Your digestion system finds fatty foods difficult to process, which slows the entire digestive process down. Speed things up by reducing fat in your diet.
- Choose leaner meats such as chicken and turkey as a source of protein. If you're eating beef or pork, go for the leaner cuts of meat.
- Switch from full fat dairy products to low-fat or non-fat versions of milk, cheese and yogurt. Swap butter and margarine for olive oil when cooking.
- Avoid eating fried, processed and frozen foods which tend to be high in fat.
Eat probiotics.Probiotics are a kind of good bacteria, similar to the microorganisms found naturally in the human body, which help to keep the intestines healthy and the bowels moving.
- Simply by introducing more probiotic foods into your system you can prevent excess gas, diarrhea and other digestive problems.
- Probiotic-rich foods include yogurt, miso soup, sauerkraut, soft cheeses, kefir, sourdough bread.
- Try taking a probiotic supplement if you are finding it hard to get probiotics through your diet. These supplements are available in capsule, powder and liquid form at pharmacies and health food stores.
- However, you should talk to your doctor before taking these supplements, as they can be unhealthy for people with certain preexisting health conditions.
Avoid sodium, starches and artificial sweeteners.If you regularly suffer from a swollen, bloated stomach, you should cut foods containing high quantities of sodium starch and artificial sweeteners from your diet, as these may be the culprits.
- You should also avoid overeating at mealtimes, as this also increases the chances of bloating.
- Bloating occurs when gas particles formed by bacteria in the intestinal tract travel back into the stomach, causing it swell like a balloon.
- Bloating can also be a symptom of more serious underlying conditions, such as diverticulitis, bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine and ovarian cancer, so if you make the changes suggested above but still suffer from bloating, you should consult your doctor.
Reduce gas.Producing too much gas is a common problem that can cause awkwardness and embarrassment for a lot of people. Luckily, there are several things you can do to control your body's gas production.
- Avoid foods which contribute to gas production. Examples of such foods include most varieties of beans as well as vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower.
- Avoid carbonated drinks. Sodas and other carbonated drinks contain a lot of air, which increases the amount of gas your body produces.
- Eat more slowly. When you eat too quickly, you tend to swallow more air, which contributes to gas production.
Remove any known or suspected allergens from your diet.Eating foods that you have an unknown allergy or sensitivity to is one of the main culprits behind digestive problems such as bloating, gas, and pain. Simply by cutting certain key items out of your diet, you can easily eliminate many digestive concerns.
- Dairy products, strawberries, nuts, chicken, eggs and gluten-products are common allergens to which many people react badly, even though they may not realize it.
- If you suspect you might be sensitive to something, completely remove it from your diet for several days to see if you feel a difference in your digestion. Do this with one food at a time so you can pinpoint the problem. Reintroduce the food after a few days and take notes on how your body reacts.
- If you cannot pinpoint the exact food that is causing digestive problems, contact your doctor about performing a food allergy test.
Method 1 Quiz
What are some of the foods you can include in your diet to improve your digestion?
Making Simple Behavioral Changes
Drink lots of water, at least 8 glasses per day.Water helps your body break down bulk and flush out toxins that can interfere with natural digestion. It also makes your stool softer and easier to pass.
- Carry a water bottle around with you throughout the day. This will help you remember to drink more and give you something to do when you're bored. Drink extra water after exercising, as you lose a lot of fluid through sweat.
- You will know that your body is adequately hydrated when your urine remains clear throughout the day. The more dehydrated you are, the yellower your urine will be.
- Choose fruits and vegetables that have high water content, such as watermelon, cucumbers, and oranges.
Get regular exercise.Regular exercise can assist in benefit digestion.
- Exercise speeds up digestion by increasing blood flow to your organs and stimulating the muscles in the intestines, helping them to process waste more quickly.
- Try cardio exercises such as walking, swimming and jogging, which get the entire body moving. Also, try to make small changes such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
Go to the bathroom promptly.When you feel the first urge to move your bowels, go to the bathroom. If you delay, water will be reabsorbed in your colon, and the stool will become harder and more difficult to pass.
Lose a few pounds.Excess weight can put pressure on the abdominal area and cause a condition whereby the valve between the stomach and the esophagus fails to close properly, resulting in acid reflux and heartburn.
- Relieve the pressure caused by any extra pounds by losing some weight. You can do this safely and effectively through a combination of healthy diet and exercise.
- Some other handy weight loss tips include controlling portion sizes by eating from smaller plates, drinking a glass of water before meals to fill yourself up, and eating your last meal at least four hours before bed.
Slow down when you eat.Eating on the go or taking large, hurried bites can cause you to swallow a lot of air. This air turns into gas in your body and may cause severe cramping and discomfort. Eating too fast also causes you to overeat, which puts more pressure on the digestive system, slowing down the process.
- Chew each bite of food at least 20 times before your swallow - this gives your stomach time to prepare for the food it is about to receive and your brain time to register that you're full.
- Avoid eating while watching TV, checking your Facebook, or reading a magazine or newspaper, as you tend to eat more when you're distracted. Eat dinner at the table, and focus on each bite you put into your mouth.v
Try a short belly massage.Press firmly and slowly with your fingers at a 3–5 centimeter (1.2–2.0 in) radius all around your belly button, in a clockwise motion. For best results, do for 2 to 5 minutes. When practiced after meals or at least once a day — in the evening before going to bed — this simple technique quickly helps your digestion.
Take a break from bad habits.Try a few days with no sugary snacks, processed foods, alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine. This will give your digestive tract a chance to regain its natural balance.
- After this break, you may want to try a natural detoxifying program for digestive health. These can be found in many health food stores and nutrition centers. Read all directions fully, and follow the program exactly to avoid compounding your digestive problems.
Apply a warm water bottle on your belly after meals.This simple trick may also improve digestion by helping the muscles of the stomach and intestines to relax.
Check the labels on all prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs.If any of your medications list gas, bloating, nausea, or other digestive stress as side effects, it may be a good idea to take a break, or ask your doctor about switching to an alternative option.
Method 2 Quiz
What is an example of a good habit that you can include in your lifestyle for improved digestion?
Using Herbal Remedies
Try licorice.Licorice is an herbal supplement which can be used to ease stomach cramps and relieve symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux.
- Licorice can be taken in capsule form, or the root can be boiled in water to make a tea.
- The safest form of licorice to take is DGL - a specific licorice extract that doesn't have the negative sides effects of regular licorice, such as high blood pressure.
Take peppermint oil.In small doses, peppermint oil is reputed to relieve stomach pain and bloating. Take peppermint oil in capsule form, or chew on peppermint leaves for a gentler alternative.
Drink chamomile tea.Chamomile tea, in addition to its calming and sleep-inducing properties, is believed to be beneficial for digestive issues such as nausea, colic, and stomach pain.
- Chamomile tea can also help to relieve muscle cramps or spasms.
- Try drinking a single cup of homemade or store-bought chamomile tea once a day.
Drink Aloe Vera juice.Aloe Vera has unique enzymes that naturally aid digestion and also contains Vitamin C and amino acids that may increase blood flow to your digestive tract.
Use ginger.Ginger is a tradition Chinese herbal remedy for stomach aches and pains. It also works to alleviate nausea.
- Consume ginger by making a tea from the fresh root, snacking on candied ginger, or taking supplements, which can be found in capsules, powders, and even beverages.
- For safety reasons, it is best to consume no more than 1 to 3 grams of ginger per day.
Method 3 Quiz
True or False: Chamomile tea may help with nausea, stomach pain, colic, and muscle cramps.
QuestionHow do I take aloe vera?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can always buy some aloe vera juice, and drink it. They are available at many grocery stores.Thanks!
QuestionHow often should someone have a bowel movement?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerOnce every day or so is good. People have different metabolisms, so for some people, it could be after every meal; for others, it could be every couple of days.Thanks!
Should I take a lemon juice?
Classes of foods that aid digestion?
Can drinking worm water help?
How to detox your organs?
- Prunes aid in digestion, but can cause diarrhea.
- Organs that compose the digestive tract include the mouth, esophagus, stomach, gallbladder, pancreas and the large and small intestines.
- Try squatting in the bathroom instead of sitting down - this is believed to be a more natural and efficient way of eliminating waste. Specialized bathroom furniture is available to help you achieve the squatting position.
- Peppermint tea is also helpful.
Sources and Citations
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