Contributed by: Rachana Arya
A sluggish digestive or gut, health can negatively impact the health of the whole body, so it’s important to keep your digestive tract in optimal condition.
However, more often than not, digestion can be substantially improved with a few simple, yet critically significant techniques.
Not sure where to start?
Try incorporating these strategies into your daily life to optimise digestion and keep bloating, gas, diarrhoea, stomach pain and nausea at bay.
Establish a regular eating schedule
Try to eat at regular times throughout the day to keep your digestive system in top shape.
Aim to consume your meals around the same time each day.
Do not leave long gaps between each meal.
The longer the gap between eating episodes, the more likely you are to have ‘crashes’ in energy, which in turn increase sugar cravings because the body craves a quick burst of energy.
Increase fibre intake in your diet
One of the best ways to improve your digestive health is by eating a diet that is high in fibre.
Fibre promotes optimal digestive and gut health, assists in the digestion of foods, helps in softening stools so that they pass more easily and reduces cholesterol levels.
When the diet is lacking fibre, food moves too slowly through the digestive system, often resulting in irregular bowel movements, constipation and associated problems (such as haemorrhoids).
It is recommended to incorporate vegetables, fruits, beans/legumes, and whole-grain cereals – all of which are great dietary sources of fibre.
Consume lots of fluids
Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water can have a favourable impact on your digestive health.
Combining a fibrous diet with a generous dose of water ensures that the fibre can travel through the digestive system without issues.
When the body has sufficient water level, it helps to beat dehydration which is a leading cause of constipation.
Intake of warm liquids, especially first thing in the morning, helps to stimulate bowel movement and production.
Drink herbal teas
Drinking warm herbal tea after your meal is one of the most effective and easy-to-make home remedies for a better functioning gut.
One of the most delicious and healthiest herbal teas, peppermint tea has been shown to relax muscles of the digestive tract and improve various indigestion symptoms.
Similarly, ginger tea can increase the heat generation in the body which can help speed up sluggish digestion.
As a general guideline, it’s recommended that you wait until the food has digested properly – approximately thirty minutes after you have had a meal.
Add probiotics to your diet
To help keep your digestive system working as efficiently as it can, it’s critical to retain the appropriate balance of good bacteria versus bad bacteria.
That’s where probiotics come into play. Probiotics help keep the body healthy by counteracting the effects of a poor diet, antibiotics, and stress.
Consumed on a daily basis, may also help to balance ‘good’ bacteria within the digestive tract, and improve the functioning of the digestive system.
To boost the levels of friendly bacteria that inhabit the intestines and help digest food, nutritionists recommended eating good sources of probiotics on a daily basis.
Some fermented foods that naturally contain probiotics include low-fat yoghurt, kefir, kombucha, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, and some cheeses.
Both apples and bananas harbour a similar number of bacteria that encourages the growth of good bacteria.
Chew the food sufficiently
Chewing food properly is the first, and one of the most important phases of digestion.
Poor chewing habits compromise the first stage of the digestive system.
It adds strain to your digestive system that has to work a little harder to break larger food particles into smaller fragments.
When larger particles enter the digestive tract it causes digestive problems such as gas, bloating, and constipation.
According to studies, food should be chewed about 32 times per mouthful.
Staying active is good for your digestive health. Regular exercise speeds up the movement of food through your digestive system.
However, it’s important not to exercise strenuously after a meal, as exercise temporarily diverts blood from the digestive tract to feed the muscles what they need. This in turn impedes proper digestion.
Because the gut and brain are so powerfully connected, stress can trigger digestive discomfort.
Researchers have found that the gut and brain are intimately connected and share many of the same networks of nerve pathways.
Whether it’s a single nerve-wracking event or chronic worry and stress over time, stress can cause a decrease in blood flow and oxygen to the stomach, delaying the emptying of the stomach.
The resulting effect can cause stomach ache, indigestion, heartburn and nausea and an imbalance of gut bacteria.
To calm a stressed digestive system, practise relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises on a daily basis.
As you can see, saying goodbye to constipation or sluggish digestion isn’t rocket science.
The areas you need to focus on to mercilessly eliminate poor digestion are a nutritious diet combined with mindful eating and an active lifestyle.
And, of course, not forgetting to eat slowly and drink plenty of water.
With a little bit of commitment, almost everyone can redefine their relationship with the toilet.
It’s also highly recommended to take regular stomach tests to keep a check on your digestive health, especially if you experience the symptoms of an unhealthy stomach, frequently.
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