With the hectic pace of modern life, convenience foods are playing an ever-increasing role in our diet. While ordering a pizza or take-out for dinner may seem like the easiest option, these foods are over-processed and full of additives such as sugar to give them extra flavor.
Combine this with the stress that most people are under, day in day out, and it is no surprise that a growing number of Americans are suffering from poor digestion. In fact, a recent survey found that nearly two-thirds of all Americans suffer from gastrointestinal problems such as bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.
The good news is that there are many ways to improve digestive health. As well as taking natural digestive aids such as Aloe Vera, you can also eat and exercise your way back to a healthy digestive system. Below we’ll look at some of these ways how to improve digestion.
What Helps With Digestion?
- Keep it Real
As we have already stated, the modern American diet of processed foods with high carbs, saturated fats, and additives is a major contributor to digestive disorders.
What is more, if you think you are taking the healthy option by ordering a diet soda, think again. The artificial sweeteners used in these and other processed foods have been directly linked to a variety of stomach conditions. One study showed that consuming just 50 grams of sweetener xylitol caused bloating and diarrhea in 70% of people, while the sweetener erythritol is not much better, 75 grams of it led to the same symptoms in 60% of people.
One of the best natural remedies for digestion is simply to eat real food. Basically, if you can’t recognize what plant or animal the food on your plate came from, don’t eat it.
- What Goes In Must Come Out
In order for your guts to work properly, the food that you eat should pass through completely and be expelled in 40 hours or so, on average. Due to their nature, processed foods can stick in the gut, causing bloating, constipation and inflammation. One of the best ways to speed up digestion is to eat a lot of fiber.
There are two types of fiber, each with its own benefits.
Soluble fiber, found in oat bran, nuts, seeds, and legumes adds bulk to your stool by absorbing water and binding the components together. Insoluble fiber, found in vegetables, whole grains and wheat bran, helps push matter through the digestive tract and cleans it.
- Not All Fat Is Bad
In a U-turn in medical thinking, it is now agreed that naturally occurring fats are a good thing. They help us feel full after a meal and even help with nutrient absorption. Butter is back on the menu!
In addition, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help fight gut infection as well as encourage brain development in the young and helping to protect it when you are older. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in nuts, particularly walnuts, some seeds and fatty fish such as sardines, mackerel, and salmon.
- Water, Water, Everywhere
Not staying hydrated is one of the most common causes of constipation. The recommended fluid intake for an adult is 50 – 66 ounces (1.5 – 2 liters) per day, especially if you live somewhere warm, or you have a very active lifestyle.
Of course, you don’t need to drink just water to stay hydrated. Any non-caffeinated beverage, such as herbal tea, will do.
Another good way to make sure you are getting enough fluid is to eat fruit and vegetables with a high water content. These include zucchini, celery, cucumber, tomatoes, melons, strawberries, grapefruit and peaches.
- Stay Calm And…
Although it is another almost unavoidable factor in modern life, stress is a big enemy of a happy, healthy, digestive system. Studies have shown stress to play a significant role in the development of such gastrointestinal disorders such as stomach ulcers, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, diarrhea, and constipation.
When you are under stress, your body is basically working full-time in fight or flight mode. This means it is diverting blood and energy away from your digestive system where it is needed and is releasing chemicals that prevent you from relaxing and digesting properly.
If you regularly find yourself under a lot of stress, you should find ways of combatting it. Meditation, stress management, acupuncture, and yoga have all been found beneficial in combatting stress-related digestive disorders.
- Chew, Chew and Chew Some More
The act of digesting is not confined to the gut. It actually starts in the mouth, and chewing your food thoroughly before swallowing will help your digestion in more ways than one.
The first is obvious – chewing breaks food down into smaller particles which will be easier for the enzymes in your stomach and intestines to break down further.
The second way that chewing aids digestion is that the act of chewing produces saliva. This saliva is full of enzymes that will start to process carbs and fats in your meal before it even reaches your stomach.
This saliva also helps by acting as a lubricant once the food has reached your stomach, helping it to pass through smoothly to your intestines.
- Keep on Moving
A lot of people don’t know this but gravity and muscles actually play a large part in the digestive process. Gravity helps pull the food through the digestive tract and the muscles of the lower abdomen play a large part in expelling it.
Going for a stroll rather than a lie-down after lunch will help get things moving and make you feel better. Studies have also shown that even light to moderate exercise like walking, cycling or jogging can reduce the amount of time food needs to pass through your system by at least 30%.
- Watch What You Eat
We don’t mean this in the traditional sense of being careful about your diet (although we do recommend that as well) but literally. Take the time to observe the food on your plate, the colors, the patterns it creates. Eat slowly and take the time to enjoy the aromas and savor the textures. In other words, eat mindfully.
Engage with the act of eating and the food on your plate, don’t just absent-mindedly shovel food as fuel into your face while you think about more important things. Just by paying attention to what you are eating, how it feels and tastes, as well as how your body is reacting to it, you will soon start to make healthier choices, and mindfulness is in itself a form of stress management.
So there you have 8 easy ways to improve your digestion naturally. Of course, giving up bad habits like cigarettes and alcohol will also have a positive impact on your digestive health but since that’s easier said than done we are not offering them as a tip.
But even if you are not willing to forego your vices for the sake of regular bowel movements, just eating a diet of natural, unprocessed foods high in nuts, seeds and legumes, combined with regular daily exercise, and perhaps ten minutes of meditation will soon make your morning “alone time” something to be looked forward to rather than dreaded.
If you have more questions about improving your digestion, contact AMP Floracel and we will recommend the best remedy for you.