Everyone deals with an upset stomach every once in a while. For some, that upset stomach occurs more often than not. After a while, it doesn’t just feel uncomfortable — it can also start to affect your quality of life. If you’re experiencing digestive issues on a regular basis, it’s time to look at ways to improve digestion.
How to Improve Digestion
Whether you deal with heartburn, gas, nausea, or any other symptoms of upset stomach, your digestion can start to dictate your life. Here are a few tips to help you do just that.
Take Time to Chew Thoroughly
Chewing your food properly might seem like an obvious solution, but many people don’t take time to do it. And as a result, they might suffer digestive issues. The process of digestion begins the moment you put a bite of food in your mouth. Your teeth break down that food so that your digestive system can do its job of breaking it down further. If you don’t chew your food properly, that makes it harder for your body to get the nutrients it needs.1
When it comes to tips on how to improve digestion, this is one of the most important. When you chew thoroughly, that means you’re generating enough saliva. This helps the digestive system because it makes it easier for food to get to your intestines. Chewing has even been shown to reduce stress, which may also help improve digestion.2
Boost Your Gut Health
If you want to improve digestion, you need to make sure you take the steps necessary to have a healthy gut. The “gut” is the gastrointestinal tract, and it’s filled with trillions of microbes, such as bacteria. Many of these microbes are good for you, but many others are bad. Digestive problems often result when the bad bacteria outnumber the good.
Probiotics are “good” bacteria, meant to help bolster the numbers of the other “good guys” that are already in your gut.3 You can get probiotics from fermented foods, like sauerkraut and yogurt, or you can get them in supplement form.
Slow Down When Eating
Another great way to improve digestion is to simply slow down when you eat. This goes hand-in-hand with chewing your food more thoroughly. Don’t wolf down your food just because you’re in a hurry. Yes, you might need to get to a work meeting, or head out for the night, but when you eat too fast, you aren’t doing your digestive system any favors.
Eating quickly can also cause you to overeat. You see, when you eat, your stomach releases hormones to tell your brain that you’re full. But when you eat too quickly, those messages get delayed, and you could be putting your digestive health at risk.4
Slowing down and paying attention when you eat could help reduce symptoms of certain digestive problems.5 This means eliminating distractions, such as the television or your phone, while you eat. It also means taking the time to appreciate the texture, smell, and taste of your meal. This process is often referred to as “mindful eating.”6
Always Stay Hydrated
You already know how important staying hydrated is. But did you know that proper hydration could also help improve digestion? Drinking water each day can help you avoid becoming constipated.7
Even if you’re not a huge fan of drinking lots of water, you can still hydrate by choosing the right foods. There are plenty of great-tasting vegetables and fruits that contain a lot of water. These include cucumbers, celery, peaches, strawberries, and many others.
Eat Foods Containing Healthy Fats
Not all fats are bad. In fact, in order for your digestive system to work properly, you need to have a certain amount of healthy fats. Fat helps to ensure the smooth movement of food through your intestines, and may even play a role in helping you avoid becoming constipated.8 Foods with omega-3 fatty acids could help you maintain your digestive health by decreasing the chances you’ll develop certain conditions that affect the gastrointestinal tract.9
Seek out healthy fats, and add them to your daily diet. Flaxseeds, walnuts, salmon, and mackerel are just a few of the foods that have a high level of omega-3 fatty acids.10
Stay Away From Processed Foods
If you’re looking for answers regarding how to improve digestion and avoid an upset stomach, one of the things you can do is to take a look in your pantry and refrigerator. Take note on the number of processed foods you see, such as chips, cookies, candy, and soft drinks. These types of foods are loaded with carbohydrates. The problem with that is they move through your digestive system very quickly. This can lead to issues such as cramping and bloating.11
Exercise More Often
Exercise is important for digestive health and overall wellness. According to one study, moderate exercise, such as jogging or riding a bike, helps to improve the efficiency of the digestive system.12 Other research suggests that getting in a 30-minute walk after eating could help to improve symptoms associated with constipation.13
Increase Your Fiber Intake
Another great way to improve digestion is to make sure you get enough fiber in your diet. Fiber not only helps your digestive tract do a better job of moving food through your intestines, it also helps reduce the chances you’ll develop digestive problems.14,15Good sources of fiber include whole grains, nuts, seeds, wheat, and vegetables.
Fiber also helps feed the probiotic bacteria in your gut. Your body can’t digest certain kinds of fibers, but probiotic microbes can. These fibers are known as “prebiotics.” Prebiotics help your digestive health by serving as energy for the good bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract.16
Moving Forward to Improve Digestion
As you can see, there are a lot of ways to improve digestion. Be sure to talk to your doctor before you make any substantial changes to either your diet or your exercise routine. That way, you’ll know it will be safe.
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