Digestion is one of the most important bodily functions. The digestive process breaks down food into their simplest forms like glucose, amino acids, and fatty acids. These are then absorbed into the bloodstream from the small intestine and carried to each part of the body. Digestion is a long and complicated process that most of us rarely think about until something goes wrong.
Common problems of the digestive system include:
- Colitis – A disease characterised by inflammation of the large intestine
- Diverticulitis – A type of disease that affects the digestive tract
- Gastroenteritis – An intestinal infection that causes diarrhea and vomiting
- Ulcers – Painful sores on the lining of your stomach or small intestine
- Heartburn – A burning sensation in the chest caused by acid reflux
Many of these conditions are genetic while others stem from what you eat. For example, gastroenteritis often occurs from eating contaminated foods like meat or dairy products. This can happen if restaurants serve contaminated food or if you do not prepare your food properly. Avoiding unpasteurised milk and using separate cutting boards can help prevent the risk of gastroenteritis.
Drinking one can of soda won’t necessarily impact your health today. But the negative effects of an unhealthy diet will start to accumulate and create health problems in the long run. Taking steps to improve your digestive health will go a long way towards improving your overall wellness.
Here we’ll look at simple lifestyle changes you can make today for a healthier digestive system.
Consume Plenty of Fiber
Fiber is incredibly beneficial for your health as it reduces cholesterol levels and increases digestive health. A high-fiber diet can even help prevent various digestive conditions such as ulcers and IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Dietary guidelines recommend about 34 grams of fiber for adult men and 28 grams for adult women. Be sure to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grain bread into your diet.
Limit Foods High in Saturated Fat
Diets that are high in saturated fat can increase the risk of heart disease. Saturated fats can typically be found in foods like processed meats, lard and cream, pastries, potato chips, and pizzas. Such foods can slow down the digestive process. Instead, substitute foods that are high in saturated fat with healthier alternatives and avoid processed food as much as possible. For a healthier digestive system be sure to include healthy fats in your diet like those found in fish, nuts, seeds, and oats.
It’s important that you’re drinking enough water as healthy digestion requires an adequate amount of fluid intake. The standard recommendation is eight glasses of water a day but this can vary based on several factors. For example, you may need to drink more water if you live in a warmer climate or exercise strenuously on a regular basis.
Exercising regularly is one of the best things you can do for your digestive health. Exercise helps move food through your digestive system which reduces constipation. Studies recommend getting at least 30 minutes a day of exercise. Simple activities like taking the stairs rather than the elevators or taking a short power walk around the neighbourhood can make a big difference towards your overall wellness.