Your digestive system works nonstop to fuel every cell in your body and remove waste. If you suffer from GI symptoms like bloating, gas and constipation, taking steps to improve your digestion can help.
Eating regular meals at consistent times and avoiding processed foods is important for your gut health. In addition, adding more dietary fiber to your diet is beneficial for most people.
1. Eat a Balanced Diet
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can improve your digestive health. The diet should also include lean protein (such as chicken, fish, eggs or beans), low-fat dairy and healthy fats like those found in olive oil and nuts.
Eating a variety of foods helps maintain gut bacteria that can prevent food sensitivities and other digestive problems. Fruits and vegetables should be the base of your diet, followed by proteins and carbohydrates – choose unprocessed versions of these foods, such as brown rice or whole-wheat bread.
Be sure to chew your food thoroughly – this aids digestion and can reduce gas and bloating. Physical activity, including walking, can help encourage regular bowel movements and manage irritable bowel symptoms. Avoid foods and drinks high in sugar, artificial sweeteners and saturated and trans fats.
2. Exercise Regularly
Exercise is good for your body in many ways, including boosting your digestive health. Regular exercise stimulates and energizes your blood circulation, which helps move food through your digestive system more effectively.
In addition, exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and relieve stress—both of which can affect your digestive system. To get the most benefit from your exercise routine, try to be physically active at least 150 minutes per week.
It is important to note that it is best to wait to exercise until after you have eaten a meal so that you can digest your food more easily. If you choose to exercise right after a meal, be sure to chew your food well and avoid any vigorous abdominal exercises that can trigger stomach pain.
3. Drink Plenty of Water
Your digestive system relies on water to function and to break down and absorb nutrients. It also helps keep your stool softer to prevent constipation.
Water is involved in every step of the digestive process, from passing food through your mouth to hydrating your large intestine. Drink plenty of fluids, such as water and unsweetened beverages. You can also drink diluted fruit and vegetable juices, broth-based soups and herbal tea.
Avoid beverages that are high in calories, such as alcoholic drinks and sodas. Adding protein-rich foods to your diet can help improve digestion and boost your metabolism. Healthy proteins include lean meats, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds. You can also add probiotics and prebiotics to your daily routine to support a balanced gut microbiome.
4. Avoid Foods That Trigger Symptoms
Eating a well-balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein can help improve digestion. You can also take supplements and probiotics that can aid the digestive process.
High acid foods such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, salad dressings and fizzy drinks can trigger heartburn for some people. Try keeping a food diary to see which foods and drinks cause you discomfort.
Bananas contain a form of soluble fibre called inulin that feeds the good bacteria in your gut. They may also relieve constipation symptoms by improving stool consistency and bowel function, according to research.
Try incorporating more fibrous vegetables and fruits into your meals, such as carrots with their skin on, beans and berries. Include more plant-based foods rich in probiotics, such as yoghurt with live cultures or ginger root, that reduce inflammation and promote healthy bowels.
5. Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough quality sleep is essential for improving digestive health. In fact, sleep and digestion are closely linked. Poor digestive health can lead to a lack of sleep, and vice versa.
During the day, the body is in a constant state of demand for glucose, which fuels the brain and muscles. But when you go to bed, your body’s need for energy drops significantly. This is why you should avoid eating a heavy meal right before bed.
Studies have shown that a high-fiber diet, drinking plenty of water, avoiding trigger foods, and getting enough sleep are all important for improving digestive health. But if your symptoms persist, it’s best to talk with a doctor. They can prescribe medications or other treatment options that may help ease your discomfort.