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How to Improve Digestive System?

Updated on May 20, 2019
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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

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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.

It’s worth pointing out that it’s not just about trying to eat well, but it’s also about trying to minimise how many poor foods you’re having in your diet and make sure that you’re living in as healthy a way as possible.

— Dr Joanna McMillan, nutrition scientist, dietitian.

Eat Beans

Consume a wide variety of beans like kidney beans, black beans, etc. regularly for improving your digestion. They contain fiber which slows down digestion and promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. Beans provide relief from constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.

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 are necessary for the human body. They contain good bacteria (live microorganisms) that keep your digestive system running smoothly, preventing many digestive problems. They are found in dairy products like cottage cheese and yogurt.

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

Include Yogurt in Your Diet

Yogurt is made from milk that has been fermented, typically by lactic acid bacteria.

It contains friendly bacteria known as probiotics, which are good bacteria that live in your digestive tract and can help improve digestion, keeping your gut healthy.

While probiotics naturally occur in your gut, boosting your intake through foods like yogurt can ease digestion.

Probiotics can help with digestive issues, such as bloating, constipation and diarrhea. They have also been shown to improve the digestion of lactose, or milk sugar.

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 Probiotic-Rich Vegetables

Probiotic-rich vegetables sauerkraut and kimchi keep your digestive system healthy.

Sauerkraut is basically finely-chopped cabbage fermented with lactic acid bacteria.

It is most commonly found in Europe and used as a side dish. It is rich in fiber and essential vitamins such as C, B and K.

It also contains manganese and iron. Its antioxidants zeaxanthin and lutein are also good for the eyes.

Another fermented dish is kimchi. It is a Korean side dish made of Korean cabbage and other healthy ingredients.

It contains lactic acid bacteria known as Lactobacillus kimchii and is rich in vitamin K, riboflavin and iron. It promotes good digestion, according to Health Line.

Consume Plenty of Pure Water

Consumption of water improves digestion and prevents constipation. Experts recommend consumption of eight glasses of water every day.

A well hydrated body prevents constipation. Water helps push the digested waste through the system, ensuring a healthy digestive system.

It is advisable to avoid consuming coffee and soda.

Staying hydrated throughout the day has been shown to improve the health of the intestines. This also helps to maintain the optimum balance of bacteria in the gut. To make it effortless to stay hydrated each day, you may want to keep a bottle of water with you at all times and sip from it regularly.

— Lottie Hulme

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.


Use Collagen

Marine collagen heals damaged gut, thanks to its amino acid profile. Two amino acids, glycine and glutamine play a role in rebuilding the tissue that lines the digestive tract.

Glycine tames inflammation, making it helpful for managing inflammatory gut conditions like IBS. Glutamine is necessary for the health and growth of the enterocytes, or epithelial cells, that line the gastrointestinal tract.

"As the preferred fuel for these enterocytes, L-glutamine is one of the most powerful tools you can have in combating leaky gut syndrome," says Will Cole, D.C., mbg Collective member and best-selling author of the newly published Ketotarian.

Ginger

Ginger is one kitchen ingredient that is being used in Indian households since time immemorial. It adds a unique taste to various dishes.

Many people use this spice as a home remedy for indigestion as it tends to stimulate gastric acids and digestive enzymes that improve digestion.

Xiang Sha Yang Wei Wan

A traditional formula called Xiang Sha Yang Wei Wan (Stomach Formula with Aucklandia and Amomum) has 10 herbs combined to warm up the stomach energy, eliminate bloating, and relieve stomach pain.

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

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2016 Srikanth R

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    • Jaredsprobiotics profile image

      Jared Toay 

      2 years ago from OKLAHOMA CITY

      Although fermented dairy foods do work, there are also many other vegan-based fermented products like kombucha or water kefir that can be benficial as well.

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