By-Meena Ganagani,Practicing Clinical Nutritionist,Mumbai.
The digestive tract plays a vital role in your health, as it is responsible for absorbing nutrients and eliminating waste. Many people suffer from digestive problems like bloating, cramping, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation for a variety of reasons.
Certain conditions, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), Crohn’s Disease, diverticulitis and heartburn, can put you at risk for more severe digestive issues. However, even a healthy person can experience digestive problems due to things such as a lack of fiber or probiotic-rich foods in their diet. (1)
Foods to Improve your digestion
- Ginger: Ginger is a plant that can reduce bloating and other digestive problems. Dried ginger powder is an excellent spice for flavoring meals, and a person can also use slices of ginger root to make tea.
- Unsaturated fats: This type of fat helps the body absorb vitamins. It also combines with fiber to help encourage bowel movements. Plant oils such as olive oil are a good source of unsaturated fats.
- Vegetables: Vegetables are rich in fiber, which is an important nutrient for digestion. Fiber stimulates the bowels to move stool out of the body. The skins of vegetables are often rich in fiber, and it is best to consume them whole. Some vegetables with skin rich in fiber include potatoes, beans, and legumes.
- Fruits: Many fruits are also rich in fiber. They also contain vitamins and minerals that are good for digestion, such as vitamin C and potassium. For example, apples, oranges, and bananas are nutritious fruits that could help with digestion.
- Whole-grain foods: Whole-grain foods also have a high fiber content that aids digestion. The body breaks down whole grains slowly, which helps control blood sugar levels. Many whole grain foods are available, including brown rice and quinoa
- Yogurt: Many yogurt products contain probiotics. These are live bacteria and yeasts that may have benefits for the digestive system.
- Kefir: Kefir is a fermented milk drink that is filling and contains probiotics. As mentioned above, these may promote better digestion and gut health.
- Leafy green vegetables: Leafy green vegetables are packed with nutrients that are helpful for digestion. According to an article in the journal Nature Chemical Biology, these vegetables also contain sulfoquinovose. This is a sugar that may feed healthful bacteria in the stomach, thereby promoting digestion.(2)
Healthy tips to improve your digestion
- Stress management: Intense emotions can trigger digestive problems by stimulating chemical changes. Thus, it is important to manage stress with the help of exercise, meditation, massage, adequate sleep, and other relaxation techniques.
- Avoiding smoking and drinking: Smoking can increase the chances of having various health conditions, including those of the digestive system. Excess alcohol consumption may negatively influence your digestive and overall health.
- Exercising: Regular exercise stimulates the movement of food through the digestive tract. Therefore, setting up an exercise routine, even as simple as walks, can help maintain your digestive health.
- Increasing water intake: Ensure the consumption of adequate amounts of water to stay hydrated as it helps in bowel movement and prevents constipation. When coupled with a balanced diet, proper water intake can efficiently promote healthy digestion.(3)