Many people suffer from digestive issues that you’d almost think maybe it’s normal to have poor digestion. Not true. Digestive complaints are common but it doesn’t mean they are par for the course. Often when our digestive tract is acting up, there’s a good chance it’s related to another health issue.
When our gut feels good, life is usually good – no bloating, diarrhea, gas, or constipation. But when those symptoms rear their ugly head and for many of us they do, your happy-go-lucky life has just taken a turn down the wrong road.
Having a gut that works like a charm the majority, if not all of the time is one of life’s most valuable health assets. When tummy troubles are kept under control, we can enjoy life so much more. But good gut health and the ability to digest what we eat without worry can be achieved when certain steps are followed regularly.
Causes of poor digestion
There can be a number of reasons why we may experience poor digestion. Here are some common ones many may have:
- Taking too many over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Tooth decay and gum disease
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Eating too many sugary foods/beverages or refined carbohydrates
- Too much “bad” bacteria instead of “good” bacteria
- Environmental contaminants
Signs of poor digestion
Many of us associate poor digestion with the typical symptoms of bloating, gassiness, constipation, or diarrhea. But poor gut health can make itself known by causing other symptoms outside of our abdomen – joint pain, unexplained headaches, fibromyalgia, skin problems, sleep disturbances, and fatigue.
Easy steps to better digestion
The best news for anyone with a tummy in turmoil is by making a few changes you can strengthen your gut’s defenses and make it behave better. Here are some steps that can lead to healthy digestion:
- Make sure to stay hydrated. We hear this all the time but it’s true. When we are well-hydrated we are less likely to have constipation. Consuming fluid during the day along with eating foods high in fiber, is a dynamic duo that bulks up and softens stools so they pass more easily through the digestive tract. Choose water as your main beverage choice and load up on more high-fiber fruits and vegetables to keep things moving.
- Don’t overeat at meals. Learning to listen to our bodies is a must when avoiding overeating. Eating more than what we need only leads to bloating, gas and indigestion. Plus, eating more food than we need leads to weight gain. Pay attention when eating and once you feel slightly full but not uncomfortably full, stop.
- Learn to slowly chew your food. Chewing thoroughly is important for enzyme release and breaking food into particles that your digestive system can handle more efficiently.
- Stay away from foods you know cause problems. If you are not sure of what those foods are, try an elimination diet. Common culprits include sugar alcohols, refined grains, and dairy products.
- Eat more whole, real or unprocessed foods. Go for what Mother Nature provides us – beans, fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and seeds can provide us with good sources of flavonoids, a friend to our gut.
- Choose foods with good bacteria. You probably heard of both probiotic and prebiotic foods. These good bacteria are absolutely necessary for keeping the peace in your digestive system by establishing a healthy balance of healthy bacteria that promote good gut health. Scientists believe that probiotics aid healthy digestion by producing substances that fight viruses and infections and also make B vitamins to help metabolize what you eat.
- Be active. Healthy digestion requires you to be physically active. Get regular aerobic exercises such as walking, biking, swimming, and dancing. All that movement improves circulation which is vital for better digestion.
- Reduce stress. When under stress, our body can release gastric acid which can cause heartburn symptoms and indigestion. The best way to reduce those symptoms and stress is to include regular exercise to release the feel-good hormones of endorphins and relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation.
- Have a bowl of soup. Water and other fluids such as soup, broth, and juice can ease things through your digestive system. If you’re not a soup fan, try herbal tea or water with a slice of cucumber, lime, or lemon. If you favor fizzy drinks, keep in mind that they increase stomach acid, which gives some people heartburn.
- Take care of your teeth. Healthy digestion begins in the mouth. Regular dental visits along with brushing and flossing can help promote a healthy mouth and healthy digestion.