Most of us have experienced digestive symptoms at some point such as an upset stomach, heartburn, nausea, constipation, gas and diarrhoea.
In most cases these symptoms don’t last long, however, when they occur more frequently, it can become a big disruption to our lives.
The lifestyle you lead and the foods that you eat can have a major effect on the way our body digests the foods that we eat and the nutrients that we obtain from them.
If we neglect our digestive health, our bodies may not break down food correctly and therefore will be unable to absorb the nutrients that are key to a healthy, functioning system.
The good news is that a change in lifestyle and diet can have a positive impact, help to improve our digestive health and eliminate the discomfort associated with poor gut health.
Below you will find 10 natural ways to improve your digestive health.
We all know that we need to drink around 2 litres per day of non caffeinated fluids. Drinking plenty of water is not only important in staying hydrated, but also key in helping to maintain a healthy digestive system.
As a lack of fluids is a common cause of constipation, it is important to make sure you are drinking adequate levels each day especially here in Spain where it can get hot and we can lose fluids faster. If you exercise regularly, you will also need to make sure your fluids are constantly topped up.
Remove Bad Habits
Smoking, drinking alcohol and consuming too much coffee also affects the functioning of our digestive system. They can also lead to other major digestive issues such as stomach ulcers, acid reflux and heartburn.
Eating late at night is another poor choice if you want to maintain good digestive health.
As gravity helps our body to digest food, laying down to sleep after consuming food will ultimately lead to indigestion and heartburn. Allow your body time to digest your food and try not to eat late at night. Ideally you will need to allow around three hours for your food to pass from the stomach to the small intestine, before you go to bed.
Get Regular Exercise
Not only is exercise good for staying fit and maintaining a healthy weight, it’s also beneficial when it comes to our digestion.
As exercise helps to keep food moving throughout the digestive system, it helps to reduce constipation.
A gentle stroll after a meal will help to keep things moving and reduce the possibility of constipation and generally aid the digestion process.
Manage Stress Levels
Stress can cause havoc with our digestive system and has been shown to cause constipation, stomach ulcers, diarrhoea and IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).
Therefore, stress management is important if you want to have a healthy digestive system.
Try incorporating stress management techniques into your daily routine, including meditation, yoga, walking and similar activities that can help reduce stress, improve your mindset and improve digestive health.
Eat at Regular Times
Another tip is to consume your meals at a regular time each day. Try to sit down at the same time for breakfast, lunch and dinner as this will help to keep your digestive system in shape.
Once again, try not to eat late at night and allow three hours after your evening meal before going to bed.
Reduce Foods High In Bad Fats
As foods that are high in fats slow down the digestive process, it is a good idea to avoid them or to at least reduce your overall intake.
Trans fats, which are commonly found in processed foods such as microwave meals and take-aways are not only extremely detrimental to your overall health, but will also affect your digestive system and make you more prone to constipation.
Eat Plenty of Fiber
It’s a well known fact that fiber is beneficial to our digestive health.
Consuming a diet that is high in fiber, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes can go a long way to improving our digestive function.
A high-fiber diet will help to keep food moving through the digestive tract, help to reduce constipation and aid in maintaining a healthy weight.
Be Aware of Eating
Eating too fast can result in bloating, gas and indigestion. So why not start to pay attention to what you are eating? In other words, become more mindful of your food.
Research has shown that mindfulness can help to reduce digestive symptoms with people with IBS and ulcerative colitis.
Try turning off the TV, switching off your phone and paying more attention to the food on your plate including the appearance, taste, smell and texture.
Also make sure you chew slowly and savour every mouthful. This will not only mean that you enjoy your food more, it will also increase the absorption of vital nutrients that are derived from it.
Eat More Probiotics
Probiotics are the friendly bacteria that when taken as a supplement can help to improve our overall digestive health.
Most of the bacteria in our body resides in our gut with the vast majority harmless, while having the right form of bacteria can help with weight loss, enhance our immune function, improve digestion and keep our digestive health in tip-top condition.
A number of studies have shown that probiotics can not only aid digestion, but also reduce bloating, gas and stomach pain in those suffering from IBS. They may also help with constipation and diarrhoea.
Probiotics are commonly found in fermented foods such as Kefir, Sauerkraut and Kimchi and can also be taken in tablet form.