When you cook, order takeout, or dine out, you’re hardly thinking about your gut. But is it okay to neglect your digestive health like that? Your digestive tract is essential to your health because it absorbs nutrients and eliminates waste. Aside from being such an essential part of the body, it’s also where many people experience digestive issues like bloating, cramping, gas, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, and constipation. If these digestive issues continue, they can develop into serious digestive problems such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), and even heartburn.
Even a healthy individual can suffer from digestive issues due to a lack of fiber or probiotic-rich elements in their diet. The food you intake is converted into the nutrients your body requires for your digestive system. In other words, your digestive health is directly linked to what you eat and how you live. By shifting your dietary lifestyle a bit, you can boost your digestive health as well as your general mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
How To Start A Healthy Dietary Lifestyle for Better Digestive Health
Don't know where to begin? Here are a few tips that can help you start eating for your digestive health and maintain its well-being:
Incorporate High-Fiber Foods In Your Diet
You can improve your digestive health by eating a high-fiber diet full of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes. You can also prevent or treat several digestive disorders with a high-fiber diet, including diverticulosis and hemorrhoids. Eating foods that are high in fiber can also help you maintain a healthy weight.
Consume Both Insoluble And Soluble Fiber
Both soluble and insoluble fibers are essential because they support your digestive system in various ways. While insoluble fiber maintains a healthy excretory volume, soluble fiber ensures that the digestive tract remains constipation-free. Wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains are excellent sources of insoluble fiber, while oat bran, nuts, and seeds are good sources of soluble fiber.
Switch To Lean Proteins
A healthy diet must include protein, however, consuming fatty meat might cause stomach issues. Limit your portion sizes when eating meat, choose lean cuts like pork loin and skinless chicken, and pair it with fiber-rich whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Pick Up A FODMAP Diet
Carbohydrates known as fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAP) might be challenging for some people to digest. Following a low FODMAP diet may help you maintain your digestive health if you have IBS or simply live with issues like stomach cramping, gas, and bloating. You can consult a dietician to help you come up with a custom FODMAP diet to follow.
Maintain A Regular Eating And Hydration Schedule
Regularly eating meals and nutritious snacks help keep your digestive system in good condition. The best time to eat breakfast is anywhere between 6-9 a.m., 10 a.m. for snacks, 1-3 p.m. for lunch, and 6-9 p.m. for dinner. Besides a regular eating schedule, ensure that you follow a daily water intake goal as well. Drinking a lot of water is very beneficial for your digestive system. Fiber draws water into the colon which helps in nutrition absorption and maintaining the hydration level of the digestive tract.
Five Gut-Friendly Foods To Incorporate Into Your Dietary Lifestyle
You can incorporate the foods below in your dietary lifestyle to boost your gut’s health:
Yogurt is made from fermenting milk and contains probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that exist in your digestive tract. While probiotics are found in your stomach naturally, increasing your intake by eating things like yogurt helps improve digestion. Probiotics can help in treating digestive problems like bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. You can eat yogurt with porridge for breakfast or as a snack to incorporate it into your dietary lifestyle.
Papaya contains papain, a digestive enzyme that breaks down protein fibers and helps in digestion. Although it is not necessary for your diet, it can help with protein digestion. If you experience constipation and bloating caused by IBS, eating papaya can help with that. Because of its gastrointestinal capacities, it’s often found as the primary enzyme in digestive supplements. You can eat it as it is, or make a sweet salad or a healthy breakfast smoothie.
They weren't kidding when they say, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples contain pectin, which is a type of soluble fiber. Pectin is broken down by the good bacteria in your colon and maintains the small intestine’s health and is frequently used to treat diarrhea and constipation. It also lowers the risk of intestinal infections and colon inflammation. You can drink apple juice, peel and sprinkle lemon juice on apple slices, or make a mean apple, granola, and peanut butter sandwich.
Whole grains are the seeds of grassy cereal plants. Oats, quinoa, and farro are examples of common whole grains that are high in fiber. The dietary fiber of these grains can enhance digestion by easing constipation and providing a supply of prebiotics to help in nourishing the beneficial bacteria in your digestive system. You can eat whole grains by mixing quinoa into salads, baking whole wheat pita bread, or cooking them with vegetables as a delicious stir-fry.
Fennel is commonly used as a flavoring ingredient when cooking. It has a high fiber content that helps your digestive system function smoothly which helps prevent constipation. Fennel is also antispasmodic, which relaxes the smooth muscles in the digestive tract. By eating fennel more frequently, you can reduce stomach problems like bloating and cramps. You can eat a pinch of raw fennel daily or add it to stews, soups, and salads.
It’s Never too Late to Start Eating for Your Stomach
When we eat, most of the time we’re too occupied with thinking about how it tastes, smells or feels to worry about how it’s going to impact our digestive tract’s health. Neglecting your stomach’s health can lead to appetite loss, abdominal pain, and bloating, which can turn into serious stomach problems. It’s important to incorporate gut-friendly foods and habits into your dietary lifestyle to ensure that your stomach stays healthy and you can keep enjoying good food.
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