11 Digestive Health Tips to Make Into Habits
Abdominal discomfort and stomach upset are signs that something's not right inside your body. When your digestive system is out of whack, it can make you feel rough all over.
Why not avoid that misery as much as possible by taking steps to improve your digestive wellness? Developing healthy habits can help you build a strong, well-functioning body. Give these digestive health tips a try, and see the difference they make for you.
1. Fill up with fiber.
Getting plenty of fiber in your diet can help you maintain bowel regularity. Some studies have also linked fiber consumption with lower rates of colon cancer.
Women should aim for 38 grams of dietary fiber each day, and men should consume 50 grams. Produce and whole grains are some of the best sources of fiber. Make sure that you eat at least seven servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
In this video, you can learn about the link between fiber and colon cancer:
2. Cut back on fat.
Grease and fat can be hard to digest. You'll do your system a favor if you reduce the fried foods and fatty meats in your diet. Plus, you'll then have more space to fill up on fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.
3. Drink plenty of water.
Fiber and water work together. While fiber increases the bulk of your stool, water keeps it soft. Without enough fluid in your diet, you run the risk of constipation.
The average man needs over 15 cups of liquid each day, and the average woman needs over 11 cups. That doesn't all need to come from glasses of plain water though. Other drinks count toward this total, and so does the water content of your food.
4. Keep your coffee consumption in check.
Coffee is a common culprit in digestive issues. The acids in coffee may be one reason that this drink can upset your stomach.
Coffee's caffeine content may play a role too. Consuming caffeine may cause your colon to contract more frequently. If caffeine seems to wreak havoc on your digestive system, you may also need to avoid tea and soda.
5. Chew carefully.
Thorough chewing makes your digestive system's job easier. As you chew, you break up the food and mix it with saliva that contains digestive enzymes. If you gulp down your food, you'll be placing a greater burden on your stomach and other digestive organs.
As a plus, careful chewing may also reduce your calorie intake. When you take your time during a meal, you may become more aware of your body's signals that you've gotten enough to eat.
6. Eat small meals throughout the day.
Huge meals make your digestive system work extra hard. It's better to break your food intake up over the course of the day.
Some people suggest six or more small meals throughout the day. Others recommend eating three reasonable meals. You can choose which approach is better for you. Just be sure not to get the majority of your daily calorie intake from one large meal shortly before bedtime.
7. Listen to your body's signals.
When it's time to go, go! Ignoring your body when it indicates that it's time for a bathroom break could soon spell trouble. The longer you wait, the more likely you are to become constipated.
Constipation leads to straining and sitting on the toilet for long stretches. Both of those activities can increase your risk of hemorrhoids. Steer clear of that situation by listening to your body's cues.
8. Take a break for relaxation.
Stress can really mess up your digestive system. When you're feeling overly stressed, you may notice that you experience more heartburn or that your irritable bowel symptoms flare up.
Try to work a bit of downtime into each day. You can also fit small stress-busters into your daily schedule. For example, start your morning with a few yoga stretches, or do deep-breathing exercises at your desk.
9. Keep moving.
A sedentary lifestyle can slow down your colon. The longer that stool is in your large intestine, the more hard and dry it will become. That can cause constipation, which sometimes leads to other issues, such as hemorrhoids or anal fissures.
To remedy this, stay as active as possible. The CDC recommends that adults should get 150 minutes of exercise per week.
10. Visit the dentist regularly.
Your oral health and your stomach health have a lot in common. Research indicates that the presence of bacteria associated with gum disease may affect gut health because you swallow the bacteria with your saliva.
As these bacteria take hold in your digestive tract, your colon function may be altered. Their presence may even lead to conditions like inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer.
11. Maintain communication with your doctor.
While talking about your colorectal health might feel embarrassing to you, remember that your doctor is a professional. It's always best to be open and upfront with your medical team about any digestive issues you are experiencing. Your doctor can help you get to the root of your troubles and find solutions to try.
These 12 digestive health tips are some of the best ways to keep your body running in top shape. With proper diet and lifestyle choices, you may be able to ward off many digestive problems.
If troubles arise anyway, you'll need a colorectal specialist who can treat your digestive symptoms. Use our Adler MicroMed provider finder to locate an expert physician who uses high-quality colorectal care products and offers minimally invasive treatment options for hemorrhoids, anal fissures and other conditions.
As with all medical issues, your physician is the ultimate source as to what procedure best fits your needs. Discuss all options and get a second opinion if you have any doubts. These articles are intended to be a source of general information only.