If you’ve ever been constipated or had an embarrassing episode of diarrhea, then you can appreciate how important your gut health is. Your ability to digest your food properly can significantly impact your overall health as well as your quality of life.
If you’re always constipated, not only does it make you feel uncomfortable all the time, but it can also have negative effects on your mood and stress levels. Not being able to digest your food efficiently can also mean that you’re missing out on important dietary nutrients.
Take a look at these 5 simple ways by which you can enhance your digestion effectively.
When you incorporate nutrients that support your gut health into your diet, you won’t need to worry about constipation anymore. In addition, having a healthy gut also positively affects your immune system and brain health.
Probiotics, glutamine, and zinc are examples of nutrients that can help improve your gut health. Probiotics can help improve your digestion by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut.
If you don’t want to suffer from gas, bloating, and abdominal pain, you should eat more probiotics. If you’re not fond of kimchi, miso, or sauerkraut, you can simply add yogurt to your morning smoothie.
When you buy yogurt products, make sure you get the ones that contain live bacteria cultures and not the ones that have been pasteurized. Alternatively, you can simply take probiotic supplements, just make sure they contain both Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, the two types of gut bacteria that are most beneficial for your health.
Glutamine is another nutrient that’s also beneficial for your digestive tract. It’s actually an amino acid that’s produced in your muscles. Glutamine also plays important roles in your immune system and intestinal health. You can get glutamine from supplements, or you can simply eat more servings of eggs, turkey, almonds, and soybeans.
Zinc deficiency is associated with various intestinal health issues such as impaired absorption of electrolytes and difficulties in digesting protein. If that’s not reason enough to make sure that you always get enough zinc, this important trace mineral is also necessary for normal testosterone and sperm production.
You can get zinc shellfish, red meat and poultry, beans, whole grains, and fortified breakfast items. Vegetables like kale, broccoli, and spinach are also excellent sources of zinc, not to mention the fact that they’re also high in dietary fiber, which can further improve your gut health.
If you want to keep your digestive tract clean and healthy, you’ll need to eat lots of dietary fiber. You can get soluble fiber from nuts and seeds, legumes, and oat bran. Soluble fiber basically absorbs and draws water into your intestines.
When soluble fiber absorbs water, the fiber takes on a gel-like consistency during digestion. This helps slow down your digestion and prevents your stool from hardening, making it easier for you to have regular bowel movements.
On the one hand, insoluble fiber doesn’t get dissolved in water at all. When you eat insoluble fiber, it basically passes through your digestive tract as is and it doesn’t get digested or metabolized. In short, you don’t absorb any calories from insoluble fiber. Wheat and oat bran, legumes, beans, and vegetables are excellent sources of insoluble fiber.
Both soluble and insoluble fiber make you feel satiated for a longer period of time. This is why people on a weight-loss diet eat a lot of dietary fiber.
The usual Western diet typically consists of processed foods, saturated fat, refined carbohydrates, and various food additives. All these are linked to numerous health problems and digestive disorders.
Processed foods like hotdogs and commercial baked goods contain a lot of trans fats which are known to have adverse effects on your cardiovascular health. In addition, trans fats are also tied to higher risks of ulcerative colitis, the most common type of inflammatory bowel disease.
Food additives like salt, on the one hand, can increase inflammation in your gut. This can then lead to a condition called leaky gut. When you have a leaky gut, toxins and bacteria can leak through the walls of your intestines.
Moreover, a high intake of salt can lead to elevated blood pressures, which can then result in heart diseases. Other food additives can cause respiratory issues like asthma, skin problems like rashes, and digestive disorders like diarrhea. Artificial sweeteners can also cause diarrhea and bloating.
To avoid these digestive and health problems, you should cut down on your intake of processed foods. Instead, increase your intake of whole foods and unrefined foods. This means that you should incorporate more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and tubers in your diet.
When you don’t maintain sufficient levels of hydration, it can lead to constipation. Keeping yourself hydrated is one of the easiest ways to maintain a healthy digestive system. In fact, it’s as easy as drinking at least 1.5 liters of non-caffeinated fluids every day.
Aside from water, fruit juice and herbal teas are a great way to stay sufficiently hydrated. You can also increase your consumption of plant-based foods that contain a lot of water like tomatoes, celery, peaches, and cucumber.
The complex process of digesting your food actually starts when you break down your food into tiny pieces inside your mouth. Poor chewing can lead to poor nutrient absorption. It also means that a lesser volume of saliva is mixed with your food. Your saliva actually plays an important role in the digestion of carbohydrates and fats.
When you just wolf down your food and you don’t chew properly, the digestive enzymes in your stomach and digestive tract have more work to do because they need to convert the solid food you ate into a liquid mixture before it goes to your small intestine.
In addition, not chewing your food properly can lead to indigestion as well as heartburn. On the other hand, if you chew your food properly and slowly, it can actually help you manage your weight by reducing your overall food intake.
Chewing slowly can make you feel full faster even though you’re eating less. The best benefit that you can get from chewing your food slowly is that your body is able to absorb more nutrients from the food you eat.