Some of the most effective ways to improve digestive health include eating regularly, staying hydrated, quitting smoking, cutting back on alcohol, lowering stress, meditating, adding fiber supplements, exercising more, and altering your diet to include high-fiber foods, probiotics, tea, bananas, avocados, artichokes, almonds, bran, spinach, tomatoes, berries, kimchi, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, and black pepper.
In our fast-paced modern world, it can be difficult to ensure that we take care of all aspects of health. Unfortunately, our diet is often the first thing that suffers when we are busy, overworked, stressed, or just lazy. Our digestive health is inevitably affected by this common oversight, which can lead to a wide variety of symptoms and conditions. If you’ve ever felt bloated or constipated, suffered from excessive gas and intestinal distress, experienced the pain of hemorrhoids, or have been diagnosed with a more serious gastrointestinal disorder, then paying closer attention to your digestive health is crucial.
There are many ways that people can improve digestive health, and like many other parts of the body, the health of your digestive system is affected by physical, emotional, behavioral, dietary, and physiological factors. To ensure a healthy stomach and a high quality of life, you must consider all of these factors in your daily life. Let’s take a closer look at 20 helpful tips to improve digestive health.
20 Tips to Improve Digestive Health
- Probiotics – If you are trying to improve the health and efficiency of your stomach, probiotics (“good bacteria”) are a great place to start. By replenishing healthy bacteria in your stomach, you improve nutrient uptake and generally protect the stomach from bad bacteria and other pathogens that can seriously compromise your digestive system.
- Exercise – As with every health issue, it can be improved through exercise. Boosting your heart rate and getting a good sweat on will not only increase blood flow and stimulate the metabolism, but will also help regulate your hungry, burn good calories, improve muscle tone, and reduce obesity. All of these things can either directly impact your body or affect your dietary behavior.
- Bananas – Potassium is what bananas are so well known for, which is a vasodilator and an anti-inflammatory, both of which are good for digestive health, but it is also a good source of fiber, which is essential for digestion. Fiber helps to bulk up our stool and helps it move through the colon, thereby reducing constipation and keeping us regular.
- Quit Smoking – Smoking seems to be bad for every part of the body, and our digestive system is no different. Smoking has an astringent effect on the body, narrowing blood vessels and increasing the likelihood of inflammation; in the gut, this sort of effect can be very harmful, leading to heartburn, ulcers, and other intestinal complications.
- Avocados – As another fiber-rich substance, avocados are a cheap and nutrient-packed way to protect our stomach. Aside from the fiber, which stimulates peristaltic motion and reduces inflammation in the gut, avocados are also full of other antioxidants that protect the digestive system and the rest of the body.
- Ease off the Alcohol – There’s nothing wrong with going out for a night of relaxation and some pints, but alcohol, particularly in excess, can do a real number of your stomach. Not only can excessive alcohol intake promote vomiting, but can also cause inflammation of the stomach, heartburn, and general intestinal distress.
- Spinach – Spinach contains some insoluble fiber, which is the less optimal of the two fibers (the other being soluble), but it can still act as a bulking agent if you are suffering from diarrhea. Also, the high lutein content is broken down during digestion and helps protect the rest of the body thanks to its high antioxidant capacity.
- Cut Down Caffeine – There are plenty of benefits to coffee, namely providing us with an energetic kick in the butt every morning when we down our first brew. However, coffee is highly acidic, and can seriously mess with the acidity of your stomach, particularly when you haven’t eaten anything else that day! If you regularly down a pot of coffee and have chronic stomach issues, consider switching to tea or cutting back on the coffee to keep your stomach from revolting!
- Cinnamon – You might not think of this delicious spice as a digestive aid, but it is! Cinnamon has been shown to be a carminative, which means that it can relieve excess gas, and it also helps to inhibit the overgrowth of yeast, which many women suffer from if their diet is improper.
- Reduce Stress – Although most people think of intestinal distress as a physical problem, don’t forget that our body and mind are closely linked, especially through the release of stress hormones. Stress and anxiety can literally “tie your stomach into knots”, and we’ve all felt that before. If you actively reduce your stress levels, your bowel movements will become more regular, and that knot in your stomach will get untied too.
- Cumin – This herb has been used for hundreds of years as a digestive aid and can help to reduce heartburn in many patients. Heartburn is often a result of something highly acidic or spicy that you ate, and since cumin is often included in such dishes, your solution can often be right in the recipe!
- Meditate – Many people have mixed opinions about meditation, but the benefits are undeniable. By clearing your mind and finding your center, releasing the tension and thoughts that plague you every day, you are also affecting the functions of your body, improving the flow of energy and blood, which can help to regulate your digestive system.
- Black Pepper – One of the active ingredients of black pepper, piperine, has been shown to increase the amount of digestive juices, which can help to stimulate digestion and increase the efficiency of nutrient uptake. It is also a digestive stimulant, so it can help reduce constipation.
- Stretch – Doesn’t it feel good to start every morning with a big, healthy stretch? Well, when you think about your intestines all twisted up, processing the big meals you had the day before, maybe they could use a bit of room to breathe. If you want to move things along and keep yourself regular, stretching once or twice a day can reduce flatulence and bloating.
- Ginger – This herb, which comes in many forms, has long been used to soothe stomach upset and reduce inflammation in the gut. Furthermore, when taken in larger quantities, ginger can act as a laxative to flush out your system and eliminate constipation.
- Stay Hydrated – One of the most important tips for improving digestive health is drinking water. This is the basis for digestion and is essential for excretion. Particularly if you suffer from constipation or painful bowel movements, increasing your water intake can immediately help get your bowels moving and also rejuvenate the body in countless other ways.
- Almonds – Studies have shown that these delicious nuts are able to function as a probiotic in certain people, meaning that they stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. The high level of fiber also helps improve digestion and reduce constipation.
- Bran – Bran has one of the highest concentrations of dietary fiber in commonly found food (about 24 grams per cup), so it is commonly recommended to eliminate constipation and stimulate healthy bowel movements by bulking up stool and promoting peristaltic motion.
- Berries – Berries are not only high in fiber, which we have explained above, but many types of berries are also high in water content. Furthermore, some berries are called “superfoods”, and their high antioxidant content can reduce inflammation and promote functionality within the gut.
- Tea – Rather than after-dinner coffee, try tea instead to ease digestion and soothe the stomach. Different teas contain different active compounds, such as the polyphenols and catechins in green tea, which protect the gut and increase pepsin production, an enzyme than increases the speed of protein digestion.