While everyone can experience occasional gas, heartburn, upset stomach, constipation, nausea, or diarrhea, it becomes a problem when these happen more frequently. Fortunately, there are ways by which you can avoid these disruptions.
Keep in mind that your digestive system is affected by what you eat and the lifestyle that you lead. This means that improving these aspects of your life is necessary for maintaining optimal digestive function and, ultimately, your overall well-being.
From incorporating lifestyle changes to adding high-fiber foods and gut-friendly probiotics to your diet, here are six best practices you must follow to keep your tummy healthy:
1. Choose real food
Often, the usual quick fixes for a rumbling tummy aren’t the best choices for keeping your digestive system healthy. This is mainly because of what these food products contain.
If you have a diet composed of processed foods, there’s a higher chance that you’ll encounter digestive disorders. To avoid this, you must reduce your intake of foods high in food additives, trans fats, and artificial sweeteners — or remove them altogether.
Food additives –
Food additives are believed to increase the risk of gut inflammation, which, in worse cases, can also lead to a leaky gut. Additives range from salt and glucose to other chemicals that aren’t naturally found in some foods and are used to add flavor or make them last longer.
Trans fats are also usually found in processed foods. These substances are known to cause an array of heart problems, but they also heighten the risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis.
Artificial sweeteners –
Processed foods like ice cream and low-calorie drinks are some of the products that contain artificial sweeteners, which are also believed to cause a variety of digestive issues.
In fact, one study revealed that consuming 50 grams worth of one type of artificial sweetener caused diarrhea and bloating in 70 percent of the respondents. Another form of this additive given at 75 grams resulted in the same symptoms in 60 percent of the study’s respondents.
Research also suggests that artificial sweeteners can lead to an imbalance in gut flora as it tends to bolster the number of bad bacteria.
2. Add more fiber to your diet
Fiber-rich foods like whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits can help boost digestive health. This is because they help food pass through the gastrointestinal tract more easily, which effectively prevents constipation.
In relation to this, eating plenty of foods with high fiber content can also treat or even prevent conditions like hemorrhoids, diverticulosis, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
3. Incorporate gut-supporting supplements to your diet
Probiotics are the same type of beneficial bacteria that exist in the gut. Since many digestive problems are somehow linked to having too many bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, supplementing with probiotics may help bring the balance back.
You can incorporate these gut-supporting supplements in your diet, especially if you’ve been taking antibiotics or experiencing stress. Plus, probiotics also support nutrient absorption, aid in breaking down lactose, boost immunity, and potentially help treat IBS.
An excellent source of probiotics is low-fat yogurt, but if this isn’t available, you can always head to your local pharmacy to buy probiotics in pill or powder form.
4. Don’t stress
Stress affects the entire body — the digestive tract included. You may have experienced that unshakeable feeling of unease in your stomach when you’re worried or anxious. That feeling of having “butterflies” in your stomach is actually a sign of bacterial imbalance in the gut.
It is worth noting, however, that stress has different effects on people. In some cases, stress tends to cause bloating and slow down digestion, which can lead to stomach pain and constipation. For others, it can cause diarrhea, loss of appetite, and even stomach ulcers and IBS.
To avoid all these, you should de-stress whenever needed. Don’t eat just because you’re unhappy, anxious, or under pressure. It would also help if you steer clear of arguments while eating and keep mealtimes relaxed and happy.
5. Stop smoking
One of the many negative effects smoking has is reflux. When you smoke, the muscles responsible for the control of the lower end of your food pipe tend to weaken. When this happens, it opens up and may allow acid to flow back up from the stomach.
When you have acid reflux, there’s a good chance that you’ll experience heartburn. It may also bring on stomach ulcers and other inflammatory conditions or make them worse. Smoking has also been found to increase the risk of having stomach cancer.
6. Eat properly
With all that’s happening in your life, there may be times when you might find it difficult to have a decent meal. In fact, many people just opt to gulp down food in between meetings, gobble snacks in front of the TV, or eat lunches on their desks because they just don’t have enough time.
But while multitasking can make you feel productive, it doesn’t always have a positive effect, especially when your gut health is on the line. To make sure your digestive system functions as it should, follow these basic rules on how to eat properly:
● Stick to a schedule
While you don’t need to follow traditional mealtime schedules dictated by society, you must have a fixed schedule for breakfast, snacks, lunch, and dinner at about the same time every day.
● Avoid overeating
Eat just the right amount for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at your usual schedule or eat four to five smaller meals.
● Don’t rush through eating
Eating too quickly can lead to digestive issues like bloating and acid reflux. To avoid these, consume your food slowly. Take your time in between bites and make sure to chew every mouthful before putting more food in your mouth.
● No big meals before bed
Eating big meals before going to bed can wreak havoc on your digestion. Make sure to eat at least two to three hours before lying down to avoid acid reflux and other digestive issues.
Eat healthily, be healthy
The digestive system performs vital tasks to keep you healthy. To make sure that your tummy stays fit, follow the best practices listed in this article.