What are the Best Ways to Improve Digestion Naturally?
By Jason Xu
Every person experiences some occasional digestive problems such as nausea, diarrhea, heartburn, gas, upsets, or constipation. Though these problems are considered normal, their persistence can cause serious disruptions to your life. The good thing is that you can use lifestyle changes and food selection to improve the health of the gut. The following are the top six evidence-based methods that can help to improve the digestive system naturally.
1. Increase the Consumption of Real Foods
If you take a closer look at a typical western diet, it comprises of saturated fats, refined carbs, and food additives. These ingredients have been linked to higher rates of digestive disorders. If you look at examples such as food additives, for instance salt and glucose, they are associated with higher risks of gut inflammation.
In one of the studies, researchers established that taking 50 grams of Xylitol or Erythritol (artificial sweeteners) caused diarrhea and bloating in about 60% to 75% of the study participants.
Scientific evidence suggests that you can easily address most of the gut problems by taking real foods. If you eat more whole foods to replace the intake of processed foods, they promote the growth of the gut bacteria and the timely release of digestive hormones. You no longer have to worry about constipation because the body will respond promptly to address it.
2. Go for Food with High Fiber Content
One thing that can help to solve most digestive system issues is fiber. Soluble fibers absorb water from the gut and promote the passage of stool. They are like brushes that help to push everything through.
Foods that are rich in soluble fibers include seeds, nuts legumes, and bran. Other like wheat bran, whole grains, and vegetables supply insoluble fiber.
When you take foods high in soluble and insoluble fibers, they can help to reduce problems such as reflux and diverticulitis.
Another type of fiber that is very important is prebiotics. This fiber is used to feed the healthy bacteria of the gut. Diets rich in prebiotics have been demonstrated to reduce the problem of inflammatory bowel conditions. Prebiotics can be found in foods such as vegetables and fruits.
3. Stay Hydrated
Low intake of fluid is a major cause of constipation. Without ample water in the body, it becomes difficult to digest and dissolve nutrients from the food you take. Besides, the bacteria in the gut are unable to function effectively resulting in serious issues such as constipation and gas.
Health experts recommend that every person should take about 1.5-2.0 liters (60-66 ounces) of water per day to prevent constipation. Note that for people living in warmer climates, the intake should be higher. In addition to water, you can also increase the intake of fluids with non-caffeinated and herbal teas.
Another method of raising your intake of fluids is taking fruits with high water content. Good examples include melons, peaches, grapefruits, tomatoes, cucumbers, and celery.
4. Do Regular Exercises
If you have regular stomach disorders, one of the remedies given by medical experts is exercises. When you do regular exercises such as walking, weight lifting, and squats, the food in the gut is assisted to move easily through the gut. For example, regular cycling and jogging increase the food transit time in the gut by approximately 30%. Exercise also helps to address constipation and further reduce the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disorder.
5. Increase the Intake of Gut Supporting Nutrients
If you want to stay away from most problems of the gut, you have to take care of the digestive system’s health. This can be done by taking foods that support the gut.
- Probiotics: These are beneficial bacteria that help to improve gut health. Probiotics assist in breaking down indigestible foods such as fibers. With the right intake of probiotics, you can avoid problems such as bloating and gas. Some of the probiotics supplying foods include fermented foods like kimchi and miso. Just keep in mind that taking probiotics to supplement isn't enough alone. You must understand the difference between prebiotics vs. probiotics as they may sound the same yet play two different roles to help your body. Prebiotics are usually carbs (mostly fiber) that beneficial bacteria in your gut eat this fiber. Read more in this Complete Guide To Gut Health.
- Glutamine: This is an amino acid that helps to reduce the permeability of the intestines (leaky gut) especially for people who are critically ill. Glutamine is found in foods such as almonds and soybeans.
- Zinc: This is another critical mineral that you should have in ample quantities to keep the gut healthy. Some of the foods that supply zinc into the body include sunflower seeds and shellfish. Increasing zinc to the recommended levels has been shown to help reduce problems such as diarrhea, and colitis.
6. Do Away with Bad Eating Habits
Bad habits such as smoking and late night eating are largely associated with upper respiratory issues and obesity. However, they also have huge impacts on gut health.
- Smoking: For smokers, the danger of suffering from acid reflux is very high. Doctors have also associated smoking with colitis and ulcers. If you are a smoker, quitting could be the solution to regular gut issues.
- Eating Late at Night: If you like taking meals late at night especially lying down, the chances of suffering from indigestion are very high. When you take food, the body partly relies on gravity to push it through as nutrients are absorbed. Even if you have to take food late, it is advisable to wait about three hours before sleeping.
If you suffer from digestive problems, some of the easy and reliable methods of addressing them could be lifestyle and dietary changes. No matter the problem of the gut, you can address it using the above six natural methods.
Jason Xu is a feature writer and specializes in business, entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends.