Digestive problems can wreak havoc on your daily life. Poor digestive health can leave you always feeling uncomfortable, never knowing what or when to eat and sometimes unsure if you should go out to social events because you may need a restroom. Digestive problems are not something you have to live with, though. Try improving your overall gut health with the seven tips listed below.
1. Keep Yourself Hydrated
For the most part, this means drink more water. And once you have done that, drink some more. Most women do not get even close to the amount of water they should be drinking daily. Experts recommend drinking 6 to 8 cups of water a day. However, if you work out vigorously or live somewhere that has warmer temperatures, you should drink more, or you could end up constipated. If water is not something you enjoy plain, try drinking herbal teas or selzer waters instead.
Consider adding veggies and fruits that are high in water content to your daily intake. Examples are peaches, strawberries, cucumbers, zucchini, celery, melons, grapefruit and tomatoes.
2. Eat a High Fiber Diet
Fiber’s job is to help keep things moving through your digestive tract. Eating a high fiber diet can even prevent and even treat common digestive issues like diverticulitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and hemorrhoids — not to mention fiber is heart-healthy.
There are 3 different types of fiber: soluble, insoluble, and prebiotics. All three are important and necessary. Soluble fiber is found in oat bran, legumes, nuts and seed. Where are insoluble is found in vegetables, wholegrains and wheat bran. Finally, prebiotics are found in fruits vegetables and grains.
3. Pay Attention to Everything You Eat and Drink
Not only is it important to incorporate fiber into your diet, it’s also important to pay attention to everything you eat and drink. Dr. Teresa Diaz, founder and CEO of Orgasmic Medicine, Inc., recommends a strategy, called “crowding out”, if you’re trying to make the transition from eating unhealthy to healthy foods, “By eating and drinking foods that are good for you, you will naturally have less room and desire for unhealthy foods. Simply put, you will crowd out the unhealthy food in your diet,” Dr. Diaz said.
4. Cope with Your Stress
Stress and anxiety can cause your digestive system to go into overdrive. There has been a link between stress and stomach ulcers, diarrhea, constipation and IBS. Stress hormones have been discovered to directly affect digestion. It has been found that when your body is in fight-or- flight mode, it doesn’t take time to slow down and digest. Blood and energy are diverted away from the digestive system.
Stress management, yoga, cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, relaxation and even acupuncture have been shown to help people with digestive symptoms due to stress.
5. Pay Attention While You Eat
Mindful eating is the term used to define the process of paying attention to all aspects of your food and the process of eating. When you don’t pay attention to what you are eating, it is easy to eat too much too fast, which can lead to bloating, gas and indigestion. First of all, to eat mindfully, you’ll need to turn off the TV, put down your phone and remove yourself from all distractions. Eat slowly as you notice what your food looks like and how it smells. Pay attention to the taste and texture, and choose each bite carefully. Basically, just slow down and enjoy your meal.
Research shows that regular exercise helps your digestive health in a couple of ways. First of all, it typically helps you maintain a healthy weight, which is an indicator for healthy digestive health. Exercise such as jogging or riding a bike — or just walking for 30 minutes a day — had the same effect on lowering the chances of inflammatory bowel issues. Also, a walk or jog helps gravity along and decreases the chance of developing chronic constipation.
7. Quit Bad Habits
Excessive caffeine speeds up your digestive system and can leave you running to the bathroom with diarrhea. It can also leave you dehydrated and undernourished. A little caffeine can be okay, but an excessive amount should be reconsidered.
Alcohol increases the acid production in your stomach and increases the chances of ulcers, reflux and heart burn — not to mention bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. Reducing your alcohol intake can improve your digestive health.
Smoking can cause gastric cancers, ulcerative colitis, acid reflux and stomach ulcers. Quitting smoking can increase the health of your digestive system almost immediately.