Your digestive system is incredibly important in relation to your health because it is from here that all the vital nutrients we need are digested and absorbed. Having poor digestive health can not only mean a world of discomfort, it can also mean poor energy levels and poor health in general.
Unfortunately for some of us, a little digestive discomfort is all par for the course. For me personally, I need to pay attention to what I eat if I want to avoid too much bloating or cramping.
Here are some basic tips I follow to help keep my digestive system running smoothly:
Know your fibre - Fibre is incredibly important in our diet as it plays a leading role in helping the foods we eat move through our guts. So having a fibre rich diet is integral in supporting a healthy digestive system. What people sometimes forget though is that there are two types of fibre, both of which are essential to a healthy digestive system.
- Soluble fibre helps digestion by absorbing water and creating a gel-like consistency that helps matter move through your guts. Some good soluble fibre choices include beans, oats, avocados and fruits.
- Insoluble fibre adds bulk to your stool as the body is unable to digest it so it passes through, carrying other waste along with it. Some good insoluble fibre options include whole grains, vegetables, and nuts.
Both of these are important in preventing constipation, where food can sit fermenting in your gut, and loose stool, where food is expelled before nutrients can be properly absorbed.
Pick Probiotics - Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast that actually work with your body to help you properly digest and absorb the nutrients from the foods you eat. When you are low on good bacteria in your gut, your digestive system struggles to absorb all the nutrients from your food. It also struggles to digest it, meaning many foods lie fermenting in your guts. This causes all kinds of digestive complaints including gas, bloating and pain/discomfort. Opt to have foods rich in probiotics in your diet (or even use probiotic supplements) to help ensure you have all the good bacteria needed for a healthy digestive system. Good probiotic rich foods include natural yoghurts, miso soups, tempeh, kefir and kombucha.
Opt For Friendly Fats - Good fats are essential in your diet nutritionally, and they can also help aid the digestive process. Bad fats, however, can actually slow your digestive system down and cause constipation. So opt for lean meats over fatty ones, and limit yourself to fried foods. When you are eating a high-fat meal, try to make sure you get plenty of fibre in it as well, to help speed up the digestion process.
Bend & Stretch - Exercise is important for stimulating your metabolism as well as stimulating your digestive system. So if you struggle with constipation, then consider incorporating some high energy cardio into your workout regime. Another consideration is yoga and/or pilates, which both work on bending and stretching the abdominal area, which includes your digestive organs. Yoga and pilates are both recommended in helping keep your digestive system functioning at its optimal level.
Stress less - Emotions can seriously impact on the function of the digestive system, and stress is no exception! So if you know you struggle with digestive complaints, perhaps you should consider how much time you make to relax and unwind? Meditation, relaxing walks, reading a nice book or a hot bath are all excellent ways to help you reduce your stress levels and help keep your digestive system happy!