A Guide to Healthy Digestion
A well-balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, poultry and fish is essential to healthy digestion. Nutritious foods enhance flora in the gut (the microorganisms present in the digestive tract) and help prevent indigestion, constipation and other digestive issues. An unhealthy digestive system can significantly affect energy levels and absorption of nutrients. Here are a few ways to ensure healthy digestion in your body!
- Purchase whole foods and avoid processed foods when possible. Read labels carefully and steer clear of foods with unneeded additives and preservatives. Purchase organic fruits and vegetables to minimize consumption of pesticides and other toxins.
- Get plenty of fiber – at least 25 grams per day. Fiber is necessary for a healthy digestive system and helps support good colon health. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains to get your daily recommended intake of fiber.
- Drink at least 64 ounces of pure, filtered or spring water every day. This is the single most important tip for a healthy digestive tract as water is necessary to keep digestion moving! Adequate hydration is especially important when increasing your intake of daily fiber.
- Chew and chew. Proper chewing of food (20-100 times) is needed for healthy digestion of carbohydrates. A lack of thorough chewing results in gas, bloating and occasional stomach pain.
- Eat yogurt - a product of the bacterial fermentation of milk featuring live, active cultures of “good bacteria” or probiotics. These help to fuel the growth of infection-fighting cells in the body and inhibit the presence of harmful bacteria. For maximum benefit avoid yogurt with added sugars, fats and hormones. Purchase a non-fat, plain version and add your own fruit – bananas, berries or melon. If you are not a fan of yogurt, give acidophilus supplements a try for a similar benefit.
- Get plenty of digestive enzymes. Found in foods, these enzymes assist in the absorption of nutrients by helping to break down food in the body. Cooking destroys digestive enzymes, which is why it is important to eat plenty of raw foods. The enzymes in raw food initiate the process of digestion, which reduces stress on the pancreas and enhances the immune system. Look into a high-quality enzyme supplement for enhanced digestion and overall health.
- Keep stress levels at bay. Stress and anxiety wreak havoc on the digestive system as evidenced by the many different antacids on the market. Antacids merely treat the symptoms and not the cause of digestive trouble. Try yoga, meditation or tai chi to bring down your stress levels and reduce indigestion.
- Get regular exercise. Physical activity helps to keep the digestive system moving, as well as the rest of the body. Try walking, bicycling or jogging, and take the stairs when possible to bring exercise into your daily routine.
- Take care when handling and preparing food to ensure good health. Always wash fresh produce, use caution when handling raw meat and be sure to cook meats thoroughly.
- Try eating several smaller meals throughout the day in place of three large meals. This makes less work for your digestive tract, which ensures optimal efficiency.
The results of a healthy digestive system are many: increased energy, better mental functioning and focus, reduced stress levels and an enhanced immune system. Take advantage of the tips above to boost your digestion and your overall health!