Natural Ways to Maintain a Healthy Digestive System
Feeling bloated and tired? Struggling with digestive distress? Nature provides everything you need to keep your digestive system functioning optimally.
From probiotic foods to herbal teas and good nutrition, there are plenty of ways to soothe an upset stomach. Dietary supplements can help too. Certain formulas, especially those high in fiber and probiotics, support digestive health.
What Factors Affect Digestion?
Have you noticed that every time you're stressed or anxious, your entire body suffers? Sluggish digestion, migraines, weight gain, and poor sleep are common complaints among those with a busy lifestyle. Your digestive system is particularly vulnerable to stress. What you eat plays a role too.
Stress, for instance, can trigger or worsen IBS symptoms. It also affects your gut, promoting the growth of harmful bacteria. This leads to a chain reaction in your body, causing indigestion, weakened immune function, sugar cravings, and reduced mental focus.
Your gut is called the second brain for a reason. The microflora consists of 30 to 400 trillion bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms. These microbes break down the nutrients from food, produce enzymes, and regulate your metabolism.
Some influence brain function and mental health. Others play a key role in immunity. Even the slightest imbalance can wreak havoc on your health, leaving you vulnerable to diseases.
It's estimated that up to 70 million people in the U.S. alone are struggling with digestive disorders. Most times, a poorly functioning gut is the culprit. Your lifestyle has the biggest impact on gut health. Poor nutrition, sleep deprivation, stress, and other factors affect digestive function.
Overeating, for example, forces your body to work harder to digest and break down food. This leads to fatigue, sleepiness, and low energy. Remember how tired you feel after eating a large meal?
Another common offender is sugar. Simple carbs, such as those found in milk chocolate, ice cream, white bread, and cookies, triggers insulin spikes followed by crashes. Your energy goes up for an hour or two, and then drops suddenly. Sugar also feeds cancer cells and harmful bacteria, causing gut imbalances.
Processed foods contain additives, artificial sweeteners, and other chemicals that can not be digested by the human body. Thus, they affect digestion and build up in your system, causing unexplained weight gain, tiredness, brain fog, and other symptoms.
Medications are not safer either. Pain relievers cause inflammation and fluid retention. Antibiotics damage gut flora and cause the formation of superbugs, such as E.Coli. These drugs kill both the healthy and harmful bacteria in your gut, which messes up digestion. For this reason, it's recommended to take a probiotic formula during and after antibiotic treatment.
A good example is the Advance Probiotic from Naturelle Life. Each serving delivers 40 billion CFU, which is twice as much as other probiotic supplements. These living microorganisms help balance gut flora and support digestive health. At the same time, they reduce the harmful effects of antibiotics and other drugs.
The question is: how to maintain a healthy digestive system? After all, it's difficult to avoid stress completely and plan your meals every single day. Here are some tips to help you out:
The first thing you should do is to reduce the stress in your life. When you're stressed, your cortisol levels increase. This affects gut health and sends your digestive system into overdrive.
Even though you can't get rid of stress, there are ways to minimize its impact. Yoga, deep breathing, regular exercise, and meditation can help. These techniques relax your mind and body, causing the stress hormone cortisol levels to drop. Moreover, they ward off depression and boost mental health.
Another option is to take probiotics. In a clinical trial conducted on medical students preparing for an exam, those who drank a probiotic beverage daily for eight weeks experienced fewer GI symptoms, increased serotonin levels, and lower cortisol levels. Their anxiety and stress levels decreased too.
Make Exercise a Habit
Regular exercise not only keeps you fit and wards off stress but also promotes digestive health. It's a great way to prevent bloating, constipation, and nutrient deficiencies. Simple activities, such as brisk walking, cycling, and jogging, increase intestinal motility, helping your body get rid of waste.
According to science, physical activity can alter the microflora and improve bacterial composition in the GI tract. In the long run, it lowers your risk of diverticular disease, colon cancer, and cardiovascular problems.
Athletes, for instance, have a more diverse gut microbiota, so their digestive system functions better. Exercise has been also shown to trigger more efficient bowel movements and relieve heartburn. Not to mention that it promotes fat loss and revs up your metabolism!
Load Up on Fiber
Your daily fiber intake and digestive health are strongly connected. Fiber prevents constipation and keeps your colon clean. Furthermore, it helps eliminate toxins and increases satiety. This nutrient also feeds healthy gut bacteria, which in turn, improves digestion. For this reason, it's considered a natural prebiotic.
A high-fiber diet can boost your immune system, improve nutrient absorption, and strengthen gut flora. It also decreases pathogenic gut bacteria and aids in weight loss. Just think about how full you feel after eating oats, apples, or leafy greens. These foods are loaded with fiber, keeping you full for hours.
If you have a hard time eating fresh produce, mix one or two tablespoons of psyllium husk with water. Drink the mixture in the morning or anytime throughout the day.
Psyllium husk is one of the best dietary sources of fiber. Upon ingestion, it forms a gel-like substance ion your stomach, which helps suppress appetite and improves bowel movements. Other healthy choices are oat bran, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, cruciferous vegetables, spinach, kale, and fresh fruit. These are just a few of the many things you can do to enjoy better digestion. Clean up your diet, eat your veggies, and take a daily probiotic supplement. Drink plenty of water to eliminate toxins and keep your metabolism up. Peppermint tea, lemon water, and green smoothies should be on your daily menu.