Digestion: Improve yours now!
Healthy digestion keeps things moving in and out of your gut smoothly and efficiently within a transit period of 24 hours.
Ideally, there should be no stagnancy or blockages anywhere in the colon. We ensure this with a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables and a high fibre intake. A balance between the proper food and lifestyle (and loads of freshwater) is the best-suited approach to keep your body functioning at an optimal level.
Create a climate conducive to health
We all have a particular lifestyle and are subject to environmental conditions that can impair whatever changes we make. So it is essential to look at yourself holistically when evaluating your dietary and health choices.
Suppose you’re eating all the right nutrient-rich foods, and it takes 72 hours for you to pass out three days’ worth of meals. In that case, it is time for a major overhaul of what you eat, when you eat, your activity level, psychological stress, your habits, personal characteristics and your general health, says Everyday Health.
To plant a strong foundation before making those sweeping dietary changes, experts suggest that you should:
- Manage stress: Work stress, home stress, neighbourhood stress all add to an over-anxious state of mind that plays havoc with not only your mental health but your gut health too. Find healthy activities that you enjoy to reduce stress.
- Staying active: Set aside time to exercise. Exercise helps your metabolism, so as long as you keep moving, you’ll maintain a healthy weight which is good for getting foods processed, absorbed and transferred through your digestive system.
- Lose the toxins: Excessive smoking, too much caffeine and alcohol, fried foods, carbonated beverages, sweets and cakes all play havoc with your gut microbiome and leads to problems such as stomach ulcers, heartburn and a strained liver which struggles to process foods that serves no purpose other than to feed harmful gut bacteria which blocks the functioning of the probiotics / the good gut bacteria which assists in breaking down foods for adequate nutrient absorption.
- Keep to a schedule: Experts recommend that you eat all your meals and healthy snacks at specific times every day. This assists with the transit times from eating, breaking down, nutrient absorption to waste removal.
- Drink water: Digestive health depends on water which assists in creating softer, bulkier stools, making for an easier exit of waste.
Rebooting your digestion
The best organic foods, the top of the range vitamin and mineral supplements, come to nothing if your digestive system is in a state of neglect. Your system won’t properly digest your essential nutrients.
The digestive system needs to reboot, and it begins with you moving in foods that can help the gut microbiome get rid of all the blockages and unprocessed foods that are clinging to the gut lining, making your life a misery with abdominal pains, cramps, blood in the stools, a swing between diarrhoea and constipation.
You are what you eat
When you don’t know whether you’re coming or going, experts suggest you do this:
- Limit the high fat: Although you need good fats from whole foods like nuts and seeds, fatty foods slow down the digestive process. If you do need to eat greasy food, pair it with a high fibre food.
- Choose lean meats; Protein is essential, so choose small portion sizes of lean meat cuts such as skinless poultry, fish and loin cuts paired with fibre-rich grains and vegetables.
- Up the high-fibre: digestion depends on a high-fibre diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits and legumes. High-fibre bulks up in the gut and pushes out all the waste. It may help prevent or ease digestive conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticulosis and haemorrhoids. You’ll need insoluble fibre or roughage such as wheat bran, vegetables and whole grains, which can’t be digested but bulks up the stools. And soluble fibre such as oat bran, nuts, seeds and legumes draws water and forms solid, soft stools, making for easy passage.
- Get the prebiotics and probiotics; prebiotics is sourced from various raw fruits, vegetables, and whole grains such as oats, bananas, onions, and legumes – help, support, and feed the healthy bacteria probiotics. Probiotics negate the impact of poor diet, antibiotics and stress while optimising nutrient absorption to strengthen the immune system. Good sources of probiotics are low-fat yoghurt, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi and Kombucha.
Experts advise long-time sufferers of gastro-intestinal disorders like IBS to work with a registered dietitian through the low FODMAP diet. The dietitian will determine which carbohydrates -fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAP) – trigger the patient’s condition and then eliminate those for easier digestion.
- The symptoms of IBS typically include:
- abdominal pain
- bloating and gas
It’s not uncommon for people who suffer from IBS to have episodes of both constipation and diarrhoea. Symptoms such as bloating and gas typically go away after you have a bowel movement.
Symptoms of IBS can be intermittent. However, some people do have continuous symptoms.
When to see a doctor about your digestion
See your doctor if you have a persistent change in bowel habits or other signs or symptoms of IBS, explains Mayo Clinic. They may indicate a more severe condition, such as colon cancer. More severe signs and symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- Diarrhoea at night
- Rectal bleeding
- Iron deficiency anaemia
- Unexplained vomiting
- Difficulty swallowing
- Persistent pain that isn’t relieved by passing gas or a bowel movement
Having medical insurance like Affinity Health will give you the freedom to see a physician and not worry about the costs. You can access doctors and other physicians who can assist you in dealing with your IBS and other bowel and digestive issues for a set monthly premium.