Habits For Healthy Digestion
I’d be willing to bet that most people want some level of improvement in their digestion. Between talking to my friends, hearing enough standup comedians riff about it, and reading enough research, it seems like almost everybody experiences digestive discomfort—to some degree—every day. Maybe it’s unexplained and intolerable gas that causes your partner to evacuate the apartment until you’ve opened the windows. Maybe it’s unexplained bloat that makes you want to hide out so people don’t mistake you for being four months pregnant. Or, perhaps it’s frustrating, uncomfortable constipation that has you practically living in the bathroom for half the day, trying to fix the problem. Whatever your issue, digestive problems are a pain—literally and figuratively. You don’t have to live with them, though. Here are habits for better digestion.
Keep a regular schedule
Eating at the same time each day—or at least roughly the same time—will help keep your digestion on track. Each time you eat, you trigger a series of events in your stomach and intestines. If you wait too long between meals, those systems can become sluggish. If you eat earlier than usual, you may overwork these systems, as they’re still digesting your last meal. Keeping to a regular schedule will help all parts of your body involved in digesting food work better.
Healthy fats are an important part of a good digestive system. Make sure to get those omegas through avocados, flax seeds, walnuts, and fish.
Separate food and drink
Avoid liquids at least thirty minutes before and after eating. Drinking with meals can interfere with your body’s ability to properly digest solids. It can also disrupt your ability to gage how full you are.
Sit down to eat
Don’t walk and eat. No matter how busy you are, find the time to sit down and eat. Your body needs to be at rest in order for your digestive system to be able to work efficiently.
Eliminate bad fats
Stick to lean meats and avoid saturated fats. Foods that are high in fat, especially saturated fats, are very hard for your body to digest. They can make your intestines sluggish.
Combine your fibers
It’s important to get two types of fiber: both insoluble, like roughage, and soluble, like brown rice. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool and soluble fiber helps move things along.
Aim for limited ingredients
The fewer ingredients you eat, the better. To put it simply, try not to overwhelm and confuse your system. Any packaged food with over 10 ingredients is going to shock your stomach and intestines.
Drink lots of water
Drinking plenty of water is sort of the fix-it for a lot of things, including digestion. Having enough water lubricates the intestines and can prevent constipation. It can also help you properly gauge your hunger.
Go at the same time each day
Go to the bathroom around the same time each day. Your upper and lower intestines communicate a lot, and when the lower ones are too full, it can interfere with accurate feelings of fullness or hunger. Not going at the same time each day can also make it harder to go in general.
When you move your body, you’re also activating your organs, keeping them energized and ready to do their jobs. A sluggish body means a sluggish stomach and intestines.
Being sleep-deprived can shock the system, cause stress, and make everything tense up—including your intestines. Sleep-deprivation can also make hunger surge, so clock those zzz’s.
Add a probiotic
You can find a multivitamin that contains probiotics, so you don’t have to take several supplements a day. Taking probiotics (and prebiotics!) is an important part of providing your digestive system with the bacteria it needs to break down food.
Chew your food thoroughly. When you chew, you actually prepare your stomach for digestion. Plus, un-chewed foods are harder on our systems.
Keep a food journal
You have your specific sensitivities to be aware of. Perhaps this or that ingredient causes you to bloat or become backed up. Keep a food journal and track what you eat and what symptoms you experience each day to identify any culprits.
Have apple cider vinegar
Having a spoonful of apple cider vinegar will introduce healthy acids into your stomach that help it break down food. The stuff on its own can be a bit much, though, so add it to pressed juice.