Staying healthy requires a balanced diet, regular exercise, and limiting your exposure to certain environmental toxins like cigarette smoke. However, much of your body’s immune system lies within your digestive tract, so it’s important to pay attention to your gut, too. Here are 11 tips to improve digestion and, in turn, your overall health.
#1 – Exercise
You probably already know that exercise is good for you. It builds and maintains muscle, and it keeps your heart in good working order. Exercise can also stimulate the digestive process, which allows your body to absorb more nutrients from the food you eat. You don’t have to be overly ambitious, either – a walk around the block is all it takes to get things moving.
#2 – Prepare Your Own Meals
Although it’s always nice to enjoy a meal you didn’t have to prepare yourself, eating out can be problematic. Catering companies and restaurants seldom focus on your health; their goal is to provide foods with just the right flavors and textures to keep you coming back for more. Instead of relying on others to prepare meals with hidden fats, calories, and preservatives that can harm your gut, prepare meals at home from fresh, preservative-free ingredients.
#3 – Try a Magnesium Supplement
Magnesium is the eighth most abundant element on Earth, the third most abundant in sea water, and the fourth most abundant in your body. It’s involved in hundreds of vital chemical reactions that occur in your body, including the reactions needed for proper digestion. You can improve digestion by taking a high-quality magnesium supplement each day. Avoid magnesium oxide as it offers very low bioavailability. Try magnesium citrate or magnesium chloride instead.
#4 – Consider Probiotics
The popularity of probiotics to improve digestion continues to soar, but the truth is that most people aren’t using them correctly. Many people don’t need probiotic supplements if they are eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes yogurt and fermented foods. However, anyone who is currently taking an antibiotic should supplement their diets with additional probiotics. Pharmaceutical antibiotics cannot differentiate between harmful, infection-causing bacteria and the good bacteria that thrives in your gut. Taking a probiotic will help maintain the population of good bacteria, thus keeping you healthier.
#5 – Don’t Skimp on the Fat
People who experience regular constipation and other digestive troubles are often advised to increase their intake of fiber. Although it’s true that dietary fiber acts as a stool softener in many ways, some people have difficulty processing it correctly. Fats can be the answer in this case as they can act as a lubricant for your digestive tract. Options like coconut oil will also supply your body with much-needed medium chain triglycerides, or MCTs, which can further improve digestion.
#6 – Indulge in You Time
Your digestive system is tied to your mental state. If you’re feeling stressed out, then chances are good that your digestive system is, too. Take some time to do the things you enjoy. A hot bath, a massage, or even a walk in the woods can help reduce your feelings of stress and anxiety, which can significantly improve digestion.
#7 – Try Some Tea
Back in December of 2013, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published an astonishing 11 studies boasting the ways in which tea can improve health and wellbeing. These studies offered up many interesting findings, including one that showed how polyphenols in green tea can protect your gastrointestinal tract from cancer. Another study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food proves that green tea does not disturb healthy bacteria in the gut.
#8 – Avoid Refined Sugar, Alcohol, and Processed Foods
Although it’s okay to enjoy these things in moderation, there are plenty of studies to suggest that regular consumption can cause significant inflammation in the bowels. Cut them out of your diet for a week, and you’re sure to see the changes. Not only will you improve digestion, but you’ll also notice a flatter tummy thanks to the reduced inflammation.
#9 – Eat Your Last Meal of the Day Early
There are some studies to suggest that short fasts can help improve digestion by cleansing the liver and reducing inflammation throughout your body. You don’t have to go hungry, though. Try eating your last meal of the day at around six. This will give you anywhere from 12 to 14 hours of fasting, which can improve digestion substantially and allow your digestive system to rest.
#10 – Drink More Water
Water is the stuff of life, and your gut needs it to function optimally. Drinking too little water can significantly slow your digestion, which may lead to constipation, stomach discomfort, inflammation, and malabsorption of nutrients. The best way to tell if you’re hydrated is to check your urine throughout the day. If it’s clear, you’re drinking enough.
#11 – Eat Slowly
Introducing too much food into your gastrointestinal tract at once can cause issues. For one, your body’s ability to tell your brain when it’s had enough food doesn’t kick in right away. Take smaller bites of food, chew them thoroughly, and pause between bites. This way, your digestive system isn’t suddenly overwhelmed with a large meal, and it can do a better job of breaking that food down into the nutrients your body needs.
If you want to improve digestion, these tips and tricks are sure to help. For the most part, they’re all common sense – eat right, get plenty of exercise, and drink lots of water. A healthy gut equals a healthy body, so as long as you take care of your digestive system, it will take care of you.