Digestive problems are quite common and cause discomfort and embarrassment. The symptoms affect a large number of people and include stomach pain and cramps, high acidity, bowel irregularities, swelling and nausea.
We tend to accept that these conditions are beyond our control and endure them as they come, but the good news is that this is not so.
If you make a few easy improvements in your diet and lead a healthy life, you can help your digestive system to efficiently do its job of supplying and absorbing nutrients and cleansing your body of waste substances.
- Improvement 1 – Increase your fiber intake
Fiber comes from those parts of plants used as food which the human body can’t process. Instead, they glide through the organism and drag body waste with them.
This process significantly reduces the time toxins take to get through the bowels.
- There are two types of fiber – water-soluble and insoluble
The digestive system needs both to function properly. Soluble fiber can be supplied through eating oatmeal, peas, beans, apples, citruses, carrots and barley.
Adding soluble fiber will effectively help you control cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Insoluble fiber comes from raw nuts, different kinds of beans, vegetables such as cauliflower and green beans. Insoluble fiber ensures constant movement in the bowels and prevents constipation.
Many plant foods contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, so you can easily increase the intake of both by adding vegetables to your daily diet.
Foods rich in fiber are usually low-calorie, so they can help you balance your weight, regulate your blood sugar levels and give your body a supply of vitamins and minerals.
- Improvement 2 – Drink more water
If you drink more water while taking more fiber, this will boost digestive effectivity.
Fibers and water soften the food and make it easily digestible, so the body can derive useful nutrients and get rid of the waste.
The recommended water intake daily is 2 liters at least, but in hot weather, extra physical activity, obesity or other factors you may need to increase this amount.
If you often suffer from headaches, vertigo and fatigue and sweat too little, even in hot weather, this can mean that your body needs more water; other dehydration symptoms include urine that is less in amount and darker than usual.
- Improvement 3 – Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly
In this way you will make the task of digestion easier.
The food consumed will be absorbed faster, and the waste will be released without problems.
Eating too quickly can also lead to excess, as the signals that you are no longer hungry take some time to reach the brain.
- Improvement 4 – Eat more fermented food
Eating fermented food helps you maintain the microflora of good bacteria. The digestive tract contains many microorganisms that help you dissolve and absorb your food.
Foods like yogurt, kefir and sauerkraut help restore and balance the good bacteria in the digestive tract.
This not only fights diarrhea and constipation but can also improve or prevent some conditions such as:
Discomfort after antibiotics intake, as these have eliminated good natural bacteria along with harmful ones in the bowels:
Irritable bowel syndrome:
Vaginal and urinary tract infections:
Symptoms of colds or flu.
- Improvement 5 – Avoid salty foods or those with added sugar
These not only cause severe stomach discomfort but can also seriously slow down and disrupt the digestive function.
Such foods will also block your sense of hunger for better variants, such as high-fiber foods. You should avoid products like flavored yogurt, processed juices, ketchup, energy drinks, etc.
- Improvement 6 – Spare at least 20 minutes a day for the sport
What is good for the body as a whole is good for the digestive system in particular, too.
Physical exercise can significantly reduce stress, help control your weight and facilitate the processes taking place within the bowels by making it easier for them to contract and relax.
Physical activity must be intensive enough to quicken your pulse for about 20 minutes (including breaks). You could choose to exercise at home or opt for activities such as brisk walking, slow jogging, cycling, climbing stairs, etc.
- Improvement 7 – Have several lighter meals instead of 1-2 heavy ones
This method effectively fights excessive appetite, as it helps control blood sugar levels. It will stop you from overeating and feeling bloated and uncomfortable afterward.
A good regime is to have 3 major meals with 1-2 lighter meals in-between.
Eat slowly, so that your body can register the calorie intake and send signals to the brain that you are no longer hungry. Devouring your meals means that you will consume large amounts of food and realize this too late, and you will experience painful heaviness and bloating. It usually takes about 20 minutes for the brain to receive the information that your stomach is no longer empty.
Eating at regular times during the day also helps. Your body will anticipate the regular meals and will be physiologically prepared.
- Improvement 8 – Avoid foods which irritate the digestive system
This step requires more time and effort. Irritating foods differ from person to person.
Try noting down the dishes you consume and find out if there are foods that disrupt your digestion.
You could record each meal in a diary and add the symptoms you might feel 1-2 hours after a meal (stomach cramps, gases, etc).
Then you could exclude the specific foods which are typically associated with discomfort. Here are the most common disruptive foods:
Processed food such as sweets, bakery products, fried and fast food:
High-acidity drinks and foods such as coffee, tea, tomatoes, vinegar and citruses (especially lemons and grapefruit):
Beans, cabbages and carbonated drinks; spicy food; gluten-containing foods such as wheat, white flour, oatmeal, barley, rye, pasta:
Dairy products, soya, corn and fructose (sweet fruit, honey, fresh juices):
- Improvement 9 – Use less salt for cooking and flavoring
Salt, if consumed in larger amounts (more than 3-4 g daily) may cause water retention.
Excess water makes your body and stomach look and feel swollen and bloated, even if you did not have a hearty meal.
The more salt you consume, the more intensive water retention and swellings you should expect.
- Improvement 10 – determine your lactose intolerance
Lactose is a sugar that is naturally found in milk and dairy products.
Many people do not pay enough attention to stomach discomforts or complications occurring after consuming milk, as they believe that more serious reactions, such as allergies, are needed to conclude that dairy products are harmful.
One of the causes for delaying remedial measures is the common mantra, established in years, that milk is an extremely healthy food.
Not being allergic to lactose does not mean you do not have an intolerance for it. People affected with lactose intolerance do not produce enough lactase enzyme to break down lactose.
The symptoms include stomach swelling, cramps, gases, diarrhea and nausea 20 minutes to 2 hours after consuming dairy products. If these symptoms occur more than 2-3 times after milk and dairy products consumption, try to avoid the problematic foods, which also include ice-cream, cheese, and yellow cheese.
Boiling the milk before you consume it can break down lactose (but not fully). You could replace dairy products with lactose-free alternatives such as almond or coconut milk.
The most popular food supplement – whey protein, also contains a certain amount of lactose, so it could be replaced with 100% lactose-free protein – whey isolate.
If you are experiencing regular stomach discomforts or disorders, interpret this as signals your body is trying to communicate with you.
Try the recommended improvements to facilitate your digestive functions and to feel healthier and stronger.
Share with us any methods you use to keep your digestive tract healthy and advise us which approaches work for you and which are not effective enough.