Taking good care of your digestive system is essential for your overall health and well-being. After all, your digestive system is a vital component of our general wellness that not only provides our bodies with the necessary nutrients to fuel our daily activities but also helps us absorb essential vitamins and minerals, regulates our metabolism, and promotes the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. More than that, proper digestion contributes to healthy bowel movements, reducing the risk of constipation, bloating, and other uncomfortable digestive issues. When we take gentle care of our digestive system, we can enjoy improved energy levels, a better mood, and a stronger immune system, among many other benefits.
Here is a list of everyday tips and tricks to care of your digestive system and maintain its health in the long term:
Eat a balanced diet
Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein is crucial for maintaining good digestive health. These foods provide the fibre, vitamins, and minerals your body needs to function properly.
Drinking plenty of water is essential for good digestive health. It helps keep things moving smoothly through your digestive tract and prevents constipation. It also prevents your bail from getting thicker and causing a range of issues in the digestive track.
Chew your food thoroughly
Your digestive processes start in your mouth when you chew the food, and that’s why chewing thoroughly is so important for good digestion. It gives your saliva more time to soften the food you are eating and to start to break it down. The more you chew your food, the easier it is for the food to get to the next steps of your digestive process and for your body to absorb the nutrients.
Overeating can put a strain on your digestive system, leading to discomfort and other digestive issues. Try to eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day to give your digestive system a break. The common advice is to stop eating while you feel a little hungry, as the signal that you are full gets to your brain later, so by continuing to eat, you might accidentally overeat.
Regular exercise helps to increase the blood flow to your muscles in the digestive system, and in its turn, it helps your food to move quicker and smoother. It also helps to improve the gut microbiome and its immune system.
Stress can have a negative impact on your digestive health. Whenever we stress or feel anxious, the muscles in our digestive system tighten, which over time can put a strain on our organs. To help manage stress, try activities like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises.
Get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep is very important for good digestive health. During sleep, our whole body, including the digestive system, repairs and rewires itself. Lack of sleep or going to bed too late can lead to digestive issues like constipation and diarrhoea and, over time, cause even bigger gut problems.
Limit alcohol and caffeine
Alcohol and caffeine can irritate your digestive system and lead to digestive issues like acid reflux and heartburn. They also have strong dehydrating effect and put a strain on your pancreas and liver. Try to limit your intake of these substances, or if you do try to minimise the damage by eating before and drinking lots of water after.
Consider taking probiotics and prebiotics
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help promote good digestive health, and prebiotics act as food to already existing gut microflora. These nutrients can be found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut or taken as a supplement.
Help yourself with medication
It is important to help your digestive system from time to time if you experience discomfort. For example, if you are experiencing constipation, you can take Metamucil, a fibre supplement that can help in such cases by absorbing water in the digestive tract, making it easier to pass stool. Sometimes taking medications like that and helping your digestive system is more beneficial than going about your day with constant pain and discomfort. However, before taking any medication or adding a supplement to your diet, it is always advised that you consult your healthcare provider.
Limit processed foods
Processed foods are often high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats, which can be difficult for your digestive system to break down. Limiting your intake of processed foods can help prevent digestive issues like bloating, constipation, and diarrhoea.
Smoking, among its many cons, can have a negative impact on your digestive health. It can irritate the lining of your stomach and increase your risk of developing digestive issues like acid reflux and stomach ulcers.
Practice good hygiene
Practising good hygiene, such as washing your hands before meals and after using the bathroom, can help prevent the spread of harmful bacteria and viruses that can cause digestive issues. If you eat out often, carrying wipes or a hand sanitiser might be a great way to help yourself in situations where you eat out in a place with no access to a facility where you can wash your hands.
Consider seeking professional help
If you’re struggling with digestive issues or are unsure how to take gentle care of your digestive system, consider seeking professional help. A gastroenterologist or a registered dietitian can provide personalised recommendations and treatment options.