A recent report out of New York University suggests over 70 percent of Americans are suffering from chronic digestive discomfort. There are many reasons for the high frequency of digestion issues in the Western world including nutrient-deficient diets, dehydration, and high-stress lifestyles. Thankfully, there are many all-natural solutions anyone can try at home to overcome common digestive woes. Below are a few of the most effective strategies you can put into place for optimal digestive health.
Drink Plenty of Water
Since roughly 60 percent of the human body consists of water, it makes sense that proper hydration plays a critical role in digestive health. Indeed, many people who frequently suffer from constipation are often chronically dehydrated.
Unfortunately, about 75 percent of Americans fail to get an adequate amount of clean water into their diet every day. On top of failing to drink enough water, many Americans compound the problem by drinking diuretics like coffee, alcohol, and soda.
One of the easiest ways to supercharge digestive health is to drink plenty of water every day. Aim to get at least 50 ounces of purified water into your daily routine. If plain water is too bland for you, then try spicing it up with lemon, cucumber, or berries. You could also drink more non-caffeinated teas or eating hydrating fruits like watermelons to stave off dehydration.
Include More Fiber in Your Diet
Fiber is a unique substance because the human body can’t absorb it. Since fiber passes through the digestive tract intact, it’s ideal for helping people struggling with constipation. Mayo Clinic explains, many people with chronic gastrointestinal complaints notice a drastic reduction in symptoms once they introduce more high-fiber foods into their diet.
There are two main types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber absorbs water in the digestive tract and adds bulk to your stool. Insoluble fiber, however, helps push waste through the digestive tract like an “intestinal broom.”
Some of the best sources of soluble fiber include oatmeal, green apples, and carrots. Great foods with insoluble fiber include cauliflower, green beans, and most nuts.
Prunes are one of the ultimate fiber-rich foods everyone should consider adding to their diet. In addition to high soluble and insoluble fiber, prunes are rich in a natural laxative called sorbitol. It’s a good idea to eat two to three prunes per day.
If you’re struggling to get enough fiber every day, then you should talk to your doctor about using a fiber supplement. Some of the best high-fiber supplements to consider taking on a daily basis include psyllium husk and slippery elm.
Increase Polyphenol-Rich Foods
Mostly found in fresh fruits and veggies, polyphenols are unique chemicals that act as antioxidants. According to Microbe Formulas, “Polyphenols are full of antioxidants, but they’re also antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, which could be another reason why certain plants are effective in controlling gastrointestinal issues. In another study, plants and fruits high in polyphenols stopped acute diarrhea symptoms nearly two days faster than control groups.” Scientists explain, not only are polyphenols associated with better digestive health, but they also might play a role in reducing the risk of serious diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer.
Thankfully, there are many tasty foods loaded with nutritious polyphenols. To list a few foods with extremely high polyphenol counts include dark chocolate, artichokes, blueberries, hazelnuts, and green tea. Certain spices like cloves and star anise have also been shown to have high levels of polyphenols.
Find Ways to Manage Stress
Emotional well-being is just as important as diet when it comes to digestive health. Everyday Health describes, people who suffer from anxiety find themselves caught in a perpetual “fight-or-flight” response, which means the brain doesn’t send adequate blood flow to the digestive tract. It’s not uncommon for anxiety patients to also suffer from some kind of inflammatory bowel disease.
Anyone with digestive issues must find positive ways to reduce stress. Some of the most effective stress-beating strategies include regular exercise, daily meditation, and psychological counseling.
Another simple way to naturally reduce stress is to take a warm Epsom salt bath before bed. Epsom salt is made up of two compounds: sulfate and magnesium. When you take a bath with one to two cups of Epsom salt, your body will naturally absorb the relaxing mineral magnesium. This isn’t the same as adding magnesium to your diet to help improve digestion. But it can soothe muscles, relieve joint pain, and dramatically reduce anxiety.
Eat More Ginger
The aromatic Indian root ginger has been used to relieve digestive complaints for thousands of years. Today, numerous scientific studies confirm ginger’s powerful ability to alleviate common gastrointestinal complaints including indigestion, nausea, and dyspepsia. Research has also shown that ginger has many anti-inflammatory compounds, which can dramatically help people with inflammatory bowel diseases.
It’s straightforward to add raw ginger or ginger powder into your cooking routine. If you don’t like eating ginger, consider cutting up a few slices and placing them in herbal teas like chai or green tea. You could also consider taking a ginger root capsule after each meal.
Slow Down and Savor Your Food
While the stomach and intestines play a crucial role in digestion, it’s important to remember where the digestive process begins: the mouth. Mercola recommends taking the extra time to chew your food thoroughly will help your body produce more enzyme-rich saliva that can significantly assist the digestive process.
Chewing slowly and more thoroughly also helps give the brain time to process when you’re full, which could help you shed a few pounds. The stomach and digestive tract also have a better time absorbing nutrients when food is already broken down.
Aim to chew your food at least 25 to 30 times before swallowing for better digestion.
Give up Smoking & Drinking
Smoking is one of the worst habits for digestive health. Regular smokers are highly susceptible to gastrointestinal disorders such as ulcerative colitis, stomach ulcers, and various cancers. Research has shown that smokers are two times more likely than non-smokers to suffer from frequent acid reflux.
Another bad habit for digestive health is drinking too much alcohol. Many studies explain that frequent drinkers have a higher-than-average risk of developing gastrointestinal disorders such as leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome, and internal bleeding. Just like smokers, people who routinely consume alcohol have a higher risk of suffering from stomach ulcers and acid reflux.
Many doctors also believe consuming too much alcohol can destroy beneficial bacteria (aka “probiotics”) that inhabit a person’s gut microbiome. Having a high amount of probiotics in the gut is essential for a healthy immune function.
Cutting out both drinking and smoking will dramatically improve digestive well-being.
Improve Your Digestion Naturally
Healthy digestion is critical to a happy life. Without proper digestion, our bodies can’t absorb the nutrients we need to perform at our peak potential. Hopefully, the tips we’ve listed above will help you supercharge your digestive health. If you’ve followed all the suggestions in this piece and are still are struggling with digestive issues, then you should speak with a doctor ASAP.
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