Are You What You Eat?

Your lifestyle and your choice of foods can affect the way your body digests the food you eat. Your digestive system breaks down the food you eat into the nutrients your body needs. If you neglect your digestive health, your body could run into problems digesting foods and absorbing those nutrients. By taking steps to improve digestive health, your digestive system will function more efficiently, improving your overall health and sense of well-being.

Try these tips to better your digestive health and then evaluate your sense of well-being.

  1. Eat a diet high in fiber. Consuming a diet high in fiber helps to keep food moving through your digestive tract, and helps to prevent or treat various digestive conditions, such as diverticulosis, hemorrhoids, and irritable bowel syndrome. Insoluble fiber, known as “roughage”, can’t be digested by the body and therefore helps add bulk to your stools. Soluble fiber draws in water and can help prevent stools that are too watery. Therefore, fiber can help both constipation and diarrhea. Good sources of insoluble fiber include wheat brans, vegetables, and whole grains; soluble fiber includes oat brans, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
  2. Limit foods high in fats. Fatty foods tend to slow down the digestive process, but since it is important to get some fat in your diet, pairing fatty foods with high-fiber foods can make them easier to digest.
  3. Choose lean meats. Protein is an essential part of a healthy diet, but fatty cuts of meat can lead to uncomfortable digestion. Select lean cuts, such as pork loin and skinless poultry.
  4. Incorporate probiotics into your diet. Probiotics are healthy bacteria naturally present in your digestive tract that help keep the body healthy by combating the effects of a poor diet, antibiotics, and stress. Probiotics can enhance nutrient absorption, help break down lactose, strengthen your immune system, and possibly even help irritable bowel syndrome.
  5. Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water helps dissolve fats and soluble fiber, allowing these substances to pass through more easily.
  6. Skip the bad habits. Liquor, caffeine, and cigarettes can interfere with the function of your digestive system and lead to problems like ulcers and heartburn.
  7. Exercise regularly. Regular exercise helps keep foods moving through your digestive system, reduces stress, and maintains a healthy weight. Stress or anxiety can cause your digestive system to go into overdrive. Make it a point to work regular exercise into your weekly schedule.

What you eat and your digestive health are intertwined, so following these strategies will help make sure it is a happy “relationship” and improve your quality of life.

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