Bloating, gas, and other digestion issues can really slow you down. Fortunately, there's a lot you can do to get back on track. Here are the five biggest changes you can make to keep your digestion working as it should.
- Choose Great Foods: The biggest factor by far in how your digestion works is the food you eat. Diets high in refined carbs, saturated fat, and food additives increase the risk for digestive issues. Artificial sweeteners can throw off the bacterial balance in your gut, which is linked to issues like irritable bowel syndrome. Choose fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fiber, and healthy fats to keep your system in balance.
- Stay Hydrated: Nothing slows your digestion down like a lack of water. Increase your water intake to keep everything running smoothly. Aim to drink at least 64 ounces of water a day. If you live in a hot climate or exercise regularly, drink more. Avoid caffeinated beverages like coffee and soda. Stick to herbal teas, seltzer water, and hydrating fruits and vegetables. Cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, grapefruit, and peaches are all great snack ideas that can help keep you hydrated.
- Keep it Moving: Your body, that is! Regular exercise helps digestion. The combination of movement and gravity helps food move through your system, which can in turn reduce many digestive symptoms. There's no need to start training for a marathon here: as little as 30 minutes of walking a day can make a huge difference in how your body digests food.
- Incorporate Supplements: Certain supplements can make a big difference in how your digestive tract functions. Probiotics (such as those found in greens powders) help your body break down food and can improve symptoms of bloating and gas. Zinc deficiencies have been linked to gastrointestinal disorders, so supplementing with this mineral may help in certain cases. Fiber supplementation can also be effective, especially if your diet is low in fiber otherwise. Make sure to drink plenty of water when starting a fiber supplement, and check in with your doctor first if you have any questions or concerns.
- Reduce Stress: Stress has a surprisingly significant impact on your digestive system, as well as almost every other system in your body. Stress is associated with issues like stomach ulcers, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome. When you're stressed out, your body diverts blood and energy away from your digestion. Focus on stress management techniques such as meditation, relaxation, and yoga to lower stress and improve the way your digestive system functions.
Maybe your digestion isn't where you'd like it to be. That's okay. We've all been there. Keep making changes and you'll see a big difference in how your digestion works and how you feel.