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How to Improve Digestive System?

Updated on August 20, 2018
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Srikanth is passionate about helping people improve their quality of life.

A Healthy Digestive System Is Necessary For Overall Wellness

A healthy digestive system promotes overall health and general well being. It is important for normal functioning of the other organ systems of the human body. The health of your digestive system is impacted by your diet and lifestyle.

Here are some useful tips for a healthy digestive system.

Human Digestive System

Source

Eat on Time

Having a schedule for meals and following that schedule keeps your digestive system healthy. Have your meals at the same time daily. Do not sleep immediately after dinner.

Sleep

Sleep for at least seven hours during night hours. Do not go to sleep immediately after having dinner. It might cause acid reflux and heartburn.

Consume Fiber Rich Food

High fiber diet promotes a healthy digestive system. A normal human being should consume 20-35 grams of dietary fiber every day (recommended by the American Dietetic Association). High fiber diet facilitates easy movement of food through the digestive system. Consuming high fiber diet prevents constipation. It also reduces the risk of colon cancer and colitis.

Banana Is a Good Source of Fiber

Source

Sources of Fiber

Apples, oranges, berries, bananas, legumes, green peas, peanuts, prunes, pears, almonds, whole grains and cereals are some good sources of fiber. It is not advisable to consume fiber containing supplements. It is not a good idea to consume more than 50 grams of fiber in a day.

A healthy digestive system is more important than most of us realise. It is the key to wellbeing. Digestive problems, however, are the norm for most people and the immediate knock on effects are often low energy, poor skin, headaches, foggy thinking, food allergies, weight gain and aches and pains.

— Patrick Holford, nutrition and digestive health expert

Go for Lean Meats

Proteins are integral to healthy diet, but fatty chunks of meat can cause digestion problems. Red meat increases the risk of many dangerous diseases, including cancer. It is advisable to go for lean cuts like skinless poultry.

Limit High Fat Food Intake

Fatty foods slow down the digestive process. They increase the risk of constipation. However, since it is important to get some fat in your diet, pairing fatty foods with high-fiber foods can make them easier on your digestive system.

Chew Thoroughly

The process of digestion begins in the mouth. Chewing foods thoroughly is very important for a healthy digestive system. Chewing facilitates easy digestion by breaking the food into smaller particles. Proper chewing reduces the stress on esophagus. The enzymes present in the saliva helps in digestion of carbohydrates and fats.

Chewing Facilitates Proper Transportation of Nutrients in the Body

Chewing helps in the proper transport of nutrients in the body. Improper chewing leads to indigestion. Indigestion usually results in bacterial overgrowth, which can harm the digestive system. Improper chewing may cause reflux, flatulence and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Proper chewing helps in easy movement of food particles through the digestive system.

Are you aware of the dangers of processed foods?

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Avoid Processed Foods

Processed foods usually contain excess sugar, preservatives, trans fats and other additives. These may not be good for the digestive system. The human body is not designed to digest many of the additives used in the processed foods. It is a good idea to consume fresh organic foods. Consuming a healthy mix of raw and cooked foods promotes a healthy digestive system. It is a good idea to avoid intake of fried foods. It is advisable to eat four to five small meals per day.

Source

Avoid Smoking

It is advisable to avoid smoking as it harms all parts of the digestive system. Smoking causes medical conditions like heartburn, peptic ulcer and Crohn's disease. It may also cause damage to the liver.

My worst habit used to be smoking but I quit.

— Katherine Heigl

Indulge In Physical Activities

Regular physical activity promotes a healthy digestive system. It is advisable to go for a walk after a meal or a snack. Avoid rigorous exercises (like running) while digestion is taking place. Exercise helps in maintaining a healthy body weight.

Regular practice of yoga strengthens the digestive system. Paschimottanasan, which is an intense forward bending stretch in a sitting position, improves digestion.

Yoga for Digestion

Consume Fermented Dairy Products

Probiotics (good bacteria) is necessary for the human body. They are found in dairy products like cottage cheese and yogurt. They promote a healthy digestive system.

Our bacteria in our stomach outnumber our human cells by ten to one.... The healthy bacteria in our digestive system actually control hundreds of disease causing pathogenic bacteria. Only, however, if you have lots of healthy gut bacteria and not an over growth of unhealthy gut bacteria. The healthy bacteria are modulated and regulated by our diets.

— Dr. Joanne Conaway, a naturopathic physician

Gut Flora Prevents Digestive Diseases

Your body’s gut flora protects you and save you from harmful diseases. From the day of your birth, close to a 100 trillion bacteria colonise your body, with the largest number found in the intestine.

Gut Flora and Digestion

These bacteria live harmlessly helping body functions, especially digestion. They are known “Gut Flora” and are present in the digestive system.

Gut Flora Are Body Friendly Microorganisms

They are body friendly microorganisms, which suppress the growth of harmful bacteria, reduce toxins, thereby keeping your digestive system healthy.

Gut Flora and Immunity

Gut flora plays an important role in boosting immunity. Immunity is of two types – ‘Innate immunity’, which we are born with and ‘Acquired immunity’, which is given through vaccinations. It is the innate immunity that decides how strong you are and how well you can fight diseases.

Importance of ‘Lacto Bacilli Shirota’

More than 100 years ago, Japan was facing multiple water-borne diseases leading to many deaths. During this time Dr Minoru Shirota discovered the importance of ‘Lacto bacilli Shirota’.

Most Effective Gut Flora

Research has documented this as the most effective gut flora that is majorly responsible in maintaining a healthy digestive system. So logically if one would increase the ‘Lacto bacilli Shirota’ in the body, more natural killer cells would be produced to provide a stronger immunity.

Fermented Foods

India has a tradition of fermented foods like curd, lassi, buttermilk, dosas and pickles, which are consumed for their nutritional benefits.
However, we often miss the benefits because of a weak digestive system.

Include Fermented Foods in Your Diet

To increase gut flora, sip on fermented beverages like Kefi, Miso, Yakult, Tempeh, fermented teas and Kanji. Make them a regular part of our diet. They improve gut flora.

Consume Plenty of Pure Water

Consumption of water improves digestion and prevents constipation. Experts recommend consumption of eight glasses of water every day. It is advisable to avoid consuming coffee and soda.

Manage Stress

Stress disrupts the normal functioning of the digestive system. Heartfulness meditation helps you deal with stress effectively.

Heartfulness Meditation Helps You Manage Stress

Learn to Say "No"

Geeta Sidhu-Robb, 50, founder and CEO of health food company Nosh Detox - which counts Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow as fans - insists that saying no reduces stress, which in turn prevents the gut from becoming inflamed.

We often feel stressed because we find it hard to say no – this then becomes the new norm.

But when you do this often enough your body uses up its stores of adrenaline and creates the steroid cortisol instead, which can lead to bloating, gas, bad digestion and even inflammation.

The relief you feel when saying no immediately reflects in your gut health.

— Geeta Sidhu-Robb, founder and CEO of health food company Nosh Detox

Walnuts Keep Your Digestive System Healthy

A study conducted at Louisiana State University, indicates that walnuts are beneficial for digestive health. They enhance the amount of good probiotic-type bacteria in the gut.

The study was carried out on rats, who were randomly assigned to a diet consisting of ground walnuts equal to about half a cup per day, and a diet without walnuts for up to 10 weeks. Those rats who consumed a walnut-rich diet saw an increase in good bacteria and in the other case, it remained the same.

Gut health is an emerging research area, but we are seeing that greater bacterial diversity may be associated with better health outcomes, whereas low diversity has been linked to conditions such as obesity and inflammatory bowel disease.

- Lauri Byerley, PhD, RD Associate Professor of Research in the Physiology Department at Louisiana State University.

Ditch Fad Diets

Fad diets that do not include healthy foods weaken the gut microbiome. Most of them produce rebound weight gain, tummy troubles and slowed metabolism, which just make things worse.


Healthy Digestive System Is the Key to Optimal Health and Longevity

It is very important to maintain a healthy digestive system. The above mentioned tips will definitely help you in this endeavor.

Summary

  • High fiber diet keeps your digestive system healthy.
  • The process of digestion begins in the mouth.
  • Smoking damages the digestive system.
  • Water prevents constipation.
  • Heartfulness meditation provides relief from stress.

Diet for a Healthy Digestive System

5 foods that are good for the digestive system
5 foods that damage the digestive system
Oranges
Artificial sweetener
Bananas
Processed foods
Apple
Fried foods
Green peas
Coffee
Whole grains
Carbonated beverages

Fruits Good for Digestion

 
Raspberries
Apples
Bananas

© 2016 Srikanth R

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