Good Health Begins with a Healthy Gut
November 2, 2017
Is stomach pain, heartburn, bloating, gas or constipation part of your everyday life? If your answer is “yes”, chances are your digestive health is not up to par.
Digestive health is a lot more important to our overall health than most of us realize. In addition to digesting food and absorbing nutrients, your gut also affects your immune system, mental health and metabolism. There’s a strong relationship between gut health and diseases like obesity, arthritis, diabetes, depression, cancer, eczema and chronic fatigue.
Your digestive health not only depends on what you eat and drink but also on your level of stress, age and physical activity. To have good digestive health, you need to take good care of yourself by eating nutrient-dense whole foods, exercising regularly and managing stress.
Eat a high-fiber diet
A high fiber diet is one that includes lots of veggies, fruits, whole grains and legumes. It keeps food moving through your GI tract and keeps you “regular”, preventing constipation, diverticulosis, hemorrhoids, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Fiber also keeps cholesterol levels in check and helps to maintain a healthy weight by making you feel full without the extra calories.
Ideally you should eat about 14 grams of fiber per 1000 calories. Both soluble and insoluble fibers are necessary because they help your digestion in different ways. Insoluble fiber can be obtained from vegetables and whole grains whereas soluble fiber can be obtained from nuts and legumes.
Avoid high fat foods
Foods that are high in fat slow down your digestion and make you more prone to constipation. A high fat, low fiber diet also increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancers.
While it’s not a good idea to completely eliminate fat from your diet, pairing fatty foods with high fiber foods makes them easier to digest.
Drink plenty of water
Healthy digestion requires plenty of fluids. This is why health and nutrition experts recommend that you drink an equivalent of eight glasses of water every day.
You should drink water or water-rich beverages, such as herbal teas, throughout the day. Drinking a glass of water twenty-minutes before a meal is a great way to not only get more water but eat less food because you will feel fuller. (Keep in mind that drinking water during a meal might interfere with digestion.)
Eat regular meals
Eat your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks around the same time each day to keep your digestion in tip-top shape. Have your breakfast within an hour of waking up and finish dinner at least 3 hours before bed.
Going many hours without eating causes you to overeat when you finally get your hands on some food! Having set meal times means that you can plan ahead and avoid getting so hungry that you can’t say no to fast food and sugary drinks.
Add probiotics to your diet
Probiotics are foods that contain “healthy bacteria”. They fix gut flora imbalance, which in turn resolves issues such as constant gas, bloating and constipation. Some common probiotic foods you can add to your diet include yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir and raw vinegar. If you are not a fan of fermented foods, you might consider taking a probiotic supplement.