One of life’s most enjoyable activities—eating—loses a lot of its appeal when your digestive system isn’t working as it should. In fact, digestive issues tend to affect more than just your stomach, which can be a real downer on your quality of life.
This is why it’s so important to take care of your digestive system, which includes everything from choosing nutritious foods to taking digestive health products.
What the digestive system does
On a macro level, the digestive system’s job is simple: digest food. But zoom in a little bit and you’ll see that food goes through quite a journey after it’s been swallowed.
Essentially, the digestive system turns food into the nutrients and energy we need to survive (and thrive), and then disposes of what our body doesn’t use. These nutrients go on to support other systems in the body, support cell growth and repair, and keep you energized.
Tips to Support Your Digestive Health
Like many things in life, a functional digestive system depends on balance. Here are some ways you can promote a healthy digestive system and keep the balance your gut needs to function normally.
1. Drink lots of water. Water makes it easier for food to move through the digestive system. So make sure you’re staying hydrated throughout the day.
2. Get plenty of fiber in your diet. Fiber also supports digestion and helps ensure you have regular bowel movements. Look to whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts to increase your fiber intake.
3. Eat probiotic foods. Probiotics are the good bacteria your body needs to keep a healthy balance in your gut. Fermented foods such as kimchi, buttermilk, cheese, kefir, and yogurt contain probiotics. Ideally, look for labels that indicate the product contains “live and active cultures.”
4. Keep a consistent meal schedule. Your body likes consistency. Eat your meals and snacks around the same time each day as much as you can. (Bonus tip: Take your time eating and chew your food thoroughly. This gives your body time to digest food properly.)
5. Avoid alcohol and smoking. Alcohol can increase the amount of acid in your stomach, which can lead to heartburn and other issues. Smoking increases the risk of acid reflux. So it’s best to limit alcohol consumption and smoking as much as possible.
6. Manage stress. Stress affects every part of your body, and it certainly doesn’t do your digestive system any favors. Ever had a stomach ache or trouble eating when you were worried about something? Do what you can to manage your stress levels, even if it’s just taking a few minutes to breathe deeply.
7. Exercise regularly. Exercise is another thing that helps keep food flowing through the body as it should. Taking a walk or moving around a bit after a meal is good for your digestion, too—but save the strenuous physical activity for a few hours after you’ve eaten.
Digestive health products: When supplementation can help fill the gaps
Sometimes it can help to supplement the above with a digestive health product. Because life happens. Occasional stress, poor sleep, poor nutrition, age, changes in lifestyle, and other factors can all affect the stability of your digestive system. A good probiotic supplement can help fill in the gaps when life doesn’t go as planned.
Look for a probiotic supplement with strains known to survive in the stomach’s acidic environment. These strains should be listed on the product label or on the company’s website.
Make gut health a priority
The digestive system has a lot to do with how your body acts and feels. Make it a priority to ensure you’re doing all you can to support it, from eating a healthy, well-balanced diet to taking digestive health products.