How to Aid Healthy Digestion
Quick Tips to Increase Healthy Digestion:
- Aim to have seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day. They are rich in fiber, minerals, enzymes, vitamins and prebiotics that nourish your digestive system.
- Choose whole-grain breads, pastas and cereals over white “enriched” grains. Whole grain alternatives are richer in fibre and nutrients and will nourish gut bacteria.
- Limit consumption of processed meats, such as sausages and hot dogs. These products may contain bacteria that can harm the microbiome.
- Get enough calcium and vitamin D. These work to prevent digestive concerns.
- Have some form of physical activity every day. Even a 30-minute walk will do wonders.
Some of the biggest causes of bloating are often the simplest fixes, but it requires you to look at how you’re eating.
- Are you stressed out? When we eat while stressed, our sympathetic nervous system kicks in. When we’re tapped into our sympathetic nervous system, our body does not favor digestion. So “shocker” our food is not going to be properly digested and absorbed.
- Are you eating too quickly or not chewing your food completely? When we swallow quickly and ingest big chunks of food, our stomach and small intestine have to work harder to break those foods down and properly digest them. This can exacerbate digestive concerns.
Tips to Reduce Bloating:
- Take 5 deep belly breaths before your meal: this will help you to get into a more relaxed parasympathetic state and make digestion easier!
- Smell your food beforehand: smelling food helps to activate the salivary glands to produce a small amount of salivary amylase, which helps start the digestion process.
- Chew for at least 10 seconds: chewing your food for a long enough amount of time will help break it down properly and form “chyme” – which is broken down food and, eventually, gastric juices. This helps aid digestion.
- Put your cutlery down between bites: We often start shoveling the next bite of food in our mouths before we’ve even swallowed the last bite. Putting your cutlery down until you’ve fully finished your last bite will help you slow down.
- Go for a short walk after your meal: Movement helps with motility! Getting in a short walk after your meal can help food move downward through the digestive tract and stimulate your bowel movement later.
Constipation is a common problem that’s generally defined as having less than three bowel movements per week. Usually, it is accompanied by bloating and gas. The older and more physically inactive we get, the likelihood of experiencing it increases.
Tips to Reduce Constipation:
- Alcohol: It increases loss of fluids which causes dehydration. Poor hydration is a risk factor for constipation
- Gluten: Some people experience constipation when they eat gluten containing foods. Mostly, those who have gluten intolerance or celiac disease. Hence, avoiding gluten containing foods can alleviate these symptoms.
- Processed Grains: These are foods that are low in fiber such as white bread, white pasta, white rice and may contribute to constipation. That’s because the bran and germ parts of the grain are removed during processing.
- Dairy Products: Particularly at risk are infants, toddlers and children due to a sensitivity to the protein found in cow’s milk.
- Red Meat: There are three reasons why red meat may cause or worsen constipation. First, it contains little fiber. Second, it often indirectly reduces an individual’s consumption of high fiber options. Third, it contains a high amount of fat, which demands a longer time for digestion.
- Fried or Fast Foods: The high fat and low fiber nature of these foods are detrimental. Additionally, these foods can reduce the likelihood of consuming enough fiber per day.
This resource was provided by The Cohen Clinic