Healthy eating is important. A balanced diet with a wide range of foods helps us maintain a healthy digestive system. Lear the best tips in this article!
The Digestive System: The human digestive system turns food and liquid into what the body needs to function effectively. It runs from the mouth to the anus, and it includes the stomach, salivary glands, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and the small and large intestines.
How does it work? The digestive system produces enzymes that aid the process of breaking food down to smaller molecules, also known as digestion.
Food is broken down so that nutrients are absorbed and other products are excreted. But when some functions fail, some symptoms and diseases can develop. Some digestive problems include:
To prevent these and more problems, eating a healthy diet is key. It improves your well-being, and it is beneficial for your brain (it may prevent dementia).
Other benefits include maintaining a healthy body weight, and preventing the development of long-term diseases like diabetes, heart disease and stroke. In short, a balanced diet increases your life expectancy.
If you notice the following symptoms, you should consult your doctor immediately: bleeding from the back passage, losing weight unexpectedly, sudden changes in your bowel movement, persistent vomiting, increasing indigestion, stomach pain, or heartburn.
Diet for a Healthy Digestive System: What to eat
Here are the best options to incorporate in your diet to have a healthy digestive system:
- Leafy greens: consume spinach and kale, for example. They contain fiber, folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin A. Leafy greens help the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
- Low-fructose fruits: Instead of fruits like apples, pears, and mango, which are high in fructose (they may cause gas), go for berries and citrus fruits, like grapefruit, oranges, or bananas. For example, lime is a digestive tonic that may relieve heartburn and nausea.
- Add more vegetables when you plan your weekly meal plan: beans, broccoli, asparagus, beets, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, radishes, onions, potatoes, cucumber, corn, tomatoes, squash, zucchini. Another great option is avocado. This superfood has fiber and other essential nutrients.
- Mint, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and ginger: mint helps relieve indigestion and soothes the stomach. Cumin aids digestion and reduces bloating. Coriander also aids digestion and reduces nausea and stomach discomfort (consume it fresh). Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger relieves indigestion and is a natural soother. Ginger also protects and heals the gut.
- Whole grains: They help your colon function properly. Low-carb diets are not advisable in the long run, we need the fiber that comes from whole-wheat and brown rice.
- Protein: a lean source of protein is necessary for a balanced diet. Remember: darker meat is rich in minerals like iron, zinc, and selenium. Consume fish, eggs, dried peas, nuts, poultry, tofu, seeds, lentils.
- Yogurt: we all know yogurt is made of milk that has been fermented. Yogurt contains probiotics, friendly bacteria that live in our digestive tract. These bacteria improve digestion, and helps with bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. Always remember to check the label, since not all yogurt contains probiotics.
Diet for a Healthy Digestive System: Conditions
To avoid indigestion, try:
- Kiwi: its enzyme, actinidin, speeds digestion. Eat 2 kiwis as a snack.
- Pineapple: it also contains an enzyme called bromelain that aids digestion. Consume it in the morning for a wonderful breakfast or in the afternoon as a snack.
- Drink beverages, preferably water, after instead of during meals.
- After you eat, relax.
- Eat slowly and avoid chewing with your mouth open, it makes you swallow air.
- Avoid late-night eating, alcohol, and spicy foods.
To relieve an upset stomach, try:
- Peppermint: it helps with IBS (irritable bowel system)
- Ginger (raw, cooked, steeped), it also reduces nausea.
- Chamomile, it reduces vomiting and soothes the intestines. It also reduces indigestion, bloating, diarrhea, and gas.
Diet for a Healthy Digestive System: Additional Tips
Here are some factors that help you improve your diet:
- Replace saturated fat with polyunsaturated or mono-unsaturated fat.
- Drink plenty of water, around 2 liters per day.
- Reduce or avoid altogether certain foods like cakes, sweets, processed meats, chips.
- Try to consume less than 6 grams of salt per day.
- Eat 5 portions of fruit per day, you can add them as a healthy snack, and 2 portions of fish per week.
- Manage your stress levels. Food and stress are closely related. When we are stressed, we tend to miss meals, overeat, or consume unhealthy foods.
- Limit your alcohol intake and minimize fizzy and sugary drinks. Instead, prefer tea or sugar-free drinks (only occasionally). If you avoid fatty meat, refined foods, or foods high in sugar it helps you prevent stomach discomfort, lethargy, bloating, and inflammation.
- Monitor your portion sizes. Use smaller plates, and never bring the pan to the table. Fill half your plate with vegetables, 1/4 with a palm-sized portion of protein and the other 1/4 with a fist-sized portion of carbohydrates.
- Keep a food diary. It helps you monitor what you eat and determine if you need to implement some changes or to identify trigger foods that cause digestion problems.
- Visit a dietitian. A specialist will help you deal with any gut issues and achieve a healthier lifestyle according to your particular needs.
- Avoid “extreme” diets. You should never remove essential foods following a diet you found on the internet, which can lead to malnutrition, and health and mental problems. Instead, change your habits gradually to have a well-balanced diet and improve your well-being in the long term.
We hope these tips were helpful. Start implementing them gradually and improve your lifestyle!