Digestion is the process when the foods we consume are broken down into smaller food molecules so they can be absorbed. Proper digestion allows for energy and nutrients to be utilized and optimized within the body to carry out critical functions. Improve digestion with these natural remedies and tips.
Quick Tips on How to Improve Digestion
Chew Your Foods
After choosing nutritious foods, be sure to chew them thoroughly. Although the body does a great job of breaking down foods, adequate chewing reduces the stress on the esophagus and further stimulates saliva and additional digestive enzymes. If focusing on chewing foods during mealtimes, you are more likely to stay in tune with hunger and satiety cues and reduce the chance of overeating.
Fiber helps aid in digestion by forming bulk in the stomach and stools. The increased mass keeps waste moving through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and results in optimized digestion. Fiber sources include oats, beans, brown rice, popcorn, potatoes with the skin, and some fruits and veggies.
For fiber to work properly, the body needs to be adequately hydrated. In the absence of water, waste can actually build up. Water can reduce the opportunity for gut discomfort to arise and helps further break down foods. On average, it is recommended to drink a minimum of eight, 8-ounces glasses of water or 64-ounces. Although caffeine should be limited to 400 milligrams per day, coffee and teas can contribute to fluid intake and may speed up metabolism.
Yogurt is one of the best sources of probiotics, live bacteria cultures that supports gut health by controlling the growth of harmful bacteria. Common probiotics to look for on ingredient labels are lactobacillus and bifidobacteria. Furthermore, probiotics feed off prebiotics, carbohydrates than cannot be digested.
• Probiotic food sources: sauerkraut, sourdough bread, soft cheeses, and other foods that undergo fermentation
• Prebiotic food sources: asparagus, bananas, oatmeal, and legumes
Alcohol in Moderation
Too much alcohol may lead to more than just a headache. Heavy consumption may cause damage to the stomach lining, which may lead to malabsorption issues. Alcohol can also exacerbate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and cause diarrhea and constipation. It is recommended men and women get no more than two drinks and one drink per day, respectively.
Partaking in physical activity is not only healthy to the heart and muscles, but to the gut. Getting active helps get things moving the way fiber and water can and decreases the risk of constipation. Additionally, aerobic exercise promotes the contraction of intestinal muscles by accelerating breathing. Efficient muscle contraction helps facilitate bowel movement. As an added bonus, incorporating strength training to increase muscle mass can speed up metabolism.
Stress may disrupt and slow down the digestive process or cause a heightened, persistent feeling of gastrointestinal problems. Although some may experience this phenomenon more than others, dealing with GI issues during these moments can further increase stress. To reduce aggravated symptoms, practice stress-reduction strategies such as yoga, walking, dancing, and listening to music.