Health and wellness are among one of the hottest topics lately, as individuals are desperately working to avoid getting sick while doing everything possible to keep their loved ones healthy. We are often browsing the internet to learn everything we can to make smart intentional choices. From wearing masks and hand sanitizing to taking probiotics and vitamins, we are all just doing our best and trying to stay well.
You may be surprised to learn that there are several factors impacting your digestive health – not just the food you eat. Yes, the food you consume is important, but there are many things you can do to improve your digestive system. If you are consistent, the positive impacts can be easily maintained. We will outline the top seven ways to naturally improve your digestive health in hopes that you can begin living a more comfortable, healthy daily life by implementing these tips.
1. Drink more water.
Most people don’t realize that they are not properly hydrating their bodies with enough water. In general, limited fluid intake is a common cause of digestive issues, and nutritionists recommend drinking at least 8 cups of water per day in order to maintain a healthy digestive tract. For those living in hot climates or who engage in high levels of exercise or activity, it is important to drink even more than 8 cups of water to stay properly hydrated. Unfortunately, individuals will drink caffeinated fluids like coffee and soda, not realizing that those beverages are not as hydrating as pure water, tea, or even seltzer water. Surprisingly, you can even consume fruits or vegetables with high concentrations of water, like lettuce, cucumbers, celery, and more to increase your fluid intake.
2. Consume more fiber.
Fiber has long been considered one of the most beneficial ingredients of a healthy digestive system. Diets high in fiber have been linked to a reduction in the risk of stomach conditions like ulcers, acid reflux, and more. There are three types of fiber that are beneficial to the body – soluble fiber, insoluble fiber, and prebiotics. Soluble fiber acts to absorb fluid while insoluble fiber keeps things moving smoothly in your system. Prebiotics contain healthy bacteria that feed the gut, helping maintain a perfect balance in your system. You can find prebiotics in several fruits, veggies, and whole grains.
3. Improve your stress-management techniques.
Many people don’t realize that stress and emotional fatigue have a direct impact on your digestive system. High levels of stress can actually be catastrophic to your system, as it is responsible for causing ulcers, IBS, and other digestive problems that leave you feeling uncomfortable and sometimes truly sick. When you are highly stressed, your body engages in a “fight or flight” process that takes blood and energy away from your digestive system in order to tend to the brain and body’s fatigue. The stomach and the brain are intimately connected, so when you implement an effective stress management technique, it also improves your gut and digestive system. Consider trying a deep or diaphragmatic breathing technique to help you relax. Engage in meditation or even light exercise, like stretching or yoga. These stress-reducing activities can also prevent flare-ups in your gut and improve your overall digestion.
4. Eat whole foods over processed foods.
Digestive issues are often connected with highly processed foods, like foods that are high in saturated fat, preservatives, additives, and refined ingredients. Many processed foods contain artificial sweeteners that wreak havoc on the natural balance of healthy gut bacteria, which can lead to numerous problems like IBS, ulcers, and more. Individuals who consume high levels of artificial sweeteners complain that they feel bloated and uncomfortable, and they are more likely to experience serious digestive problems. When possible, consume foods with limited additives, low amounts of trans fat, and minimal artificial sweeteners. This is the best way to encourage a healthy, balanced gut and keep your digestive system in optimal condition.
5. Exercise regularly.
Just like with stress management, many people don’t realize that exercising frequently is excellent for the digestive system. When the blood gets pumping and your heart rate increases in a healthy way, your entire body works in peak condition, including your digestion. Exercising helps the food you consume travel properly through your system, so going for a short walk after you eat could be a simple way to encourage healthy digestion. Those who engage in daily exercise with 30 or more minutes of activity (like walking or jogging) report fewer instances of digestive and bowel conditions, making physical exercise even more appealing.
6. Consume more healthy fats.
Some people hear the word “fat“ and assume that it is a negative addition to your diet, but this is incorrect. In order to have truly healthy digestion, one must consume the proper amount of healthy fats so that nutrients can absorb into the body thoroughly. There are many foods that are rich in helpful omega-3 fatty acids, like avocados, fish, flax seeds, many types of nuts, and more. Consuming these healthy fats allows for the body to absorb some key nutrients, and it keeps your entire body working properly, including the digestive system.
7. Eliminate your bad habits.
It is difficult to admit sometimes, but some of our guilty pleasures are actually causing our bodies more harm than they may be worth. For example, those who like to enjoy alcoholic beverages on a regular basis may want to reduce their alcohol consumption, as it can cause serious digestive problems like acid reflux, ulcers, and uncomfortable heartburn. Alcohol also can have a negative impact on the balance of good bacteria in the gut. Another habit that we may not realize is damaging to the digestive system is late-night snacking. When you eat during the day and engage in any activity, the body is able to more properly digest the food. If you eat before bed, the act of laying down to sleep prevents the body from engaging in a healthy digestive cycle, resulting in discomfort, heartburn, and indigestion.
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