Occasional bloating, gas, and intestinal discomfort—for many of us, these post-mealtime troubles can be commonplace. Nearly everyone has the occasional digestive problem, and now is a great time to give your gut a natural tuneup.*
A healthy gut allows you to digest your food efficiently, absorb more nutrients, and sidestep occasional discomfort and embarrassment. Try making a few small diet and lifestyle changes to naturally support your digestion.*
We’re all guilty of taking our meals on the go or inhaling them madly like Joey Chestnut or Takeru Kobayashi at the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. But being present while eating can make a big digestive difference. Slow down to enjoy each bite.
Digestion begins in your mouth. By simply chewing thoroughly, you break your food down more, which makes your stomach and digestive tract’s jobs that much easier. Start by chewing each bite of food 5–10 times and work up to 30 chews before swallowing. It sounds laborious, but it brings out your foods’ flavors and can ease digestive system stress.
Every culture’s traditional cuisine boasts some form of fermented food. Pickled vegetables, sauerkraut, and kimchi are all delicious examples of foods with natural probiotic bacteria cultures that feed your gut’s microbiome and help create a balanced environment. It may take time for your internal environment to respond positively to these gut-healthy additions, so listen to your body and introduce these foods at your pace.
Supplement Your Gut
Sometimes your gut needs a little extra help to break down meals (especially more gluttonous ones), including carbs, fats, proteins, lactose, and cellulose. Adding a digestive enzyme will support your stomach to absorb macronutrients and normalize digestion. Look for digestive enzyme supplements with ingredients like amylase, bromelain, cellulase, lactase, lipase, papain, and protease, all shown to help break down macronutrients.*
Fiber, the Soluble Solution
Soluble fiber helps your digestive tract work at peak performance by absorbing water in your intestines and adding bulk to your, well, poop. This helps your body push out waste and keep things chugging along like they should.
To get that gut train moving on schedule, add foods like avocados, beans, oats, flax and sunflower seeds, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli to your daily diet.
Silence Your Sweet Tooth
A healthy gut is the best environment for optimal digestion. And a sweet snack obsession is one of the main culprits throwing gut bacteria off balance. Sugar—including glucose, fructose, or any other form—is derived from carbohydrates. And it’s like rocket fuel for potentially harmful bacteria living in your gut. Reducing sugar intake restricts the fuel these microbes need to cultivate in your microbiome. Plus, cutting the sugar can also help support beneficial bacteria and optimize your overall digestive system.*
Quench Your Thirst
Drinking enough water may seem like a no-brainer—we’ve all heard the eight glasses of water a day rule. But most of us don’t really know why hydration is so important. Hydration plays a serious role in optimal digestion. Drinking enough fluid each day helps to produce saliva—the start of the digestive process and critical to help your body flush toxins through regular bowel movements.
And don’t be afraid to drink water during mealtime as well. Taking sips of water in-between bites allows breaks in your eating, slowing you down and preventing overeating. Drinking water can also speed up your metabolism and promote proper function of the digestive enzymes in your belly.
Spill the Tea
Not only does water work wonders for a healthy digestive system, sipping tea can also be highly beneficial for your gut.
Certain varieties of teas have been looked to for centuries to aid digestion. Check out how different tea types can support multiple digestive processes.
- Menthol in peppermint tea aids digestion.
- Ginger tea is great for occasional bloating and cramping.
- Dandelion tea can help stimulate your stomach muscles to move food along to the small intestine.
- Marshmallow root tea can help stimulate the production of mucus in your digestive tract.
Teas are a tasty and comforting way to help your digestive tract, and they come with many different health benefits as well.
Your autonomic nervous system and your digestion coexist like peanut butter and jelly. As food enters your gut, neurons lining your digestive tract signal intestinal cells to contract. This pushes food through your system, while simultaneously breaking down nutrients for energy. During times of high stress, your digestion takes a back seat to your sympathetic nervous system, or the “fight or flight” response, which can cause minor gastrointestinal distress.
The secret is to find ways to reduce occasional stress. Introduce breathing exercises, practice mindfulness, or take long walks to calm your mind—and your belly.
Digestion problems happen every now and then, they’re a natural part of life. Luckily, there are steps you can take to make them as infrequent as Halley’s Comet. Your gut works hard to keep you happy, and with small changes to your daily habits, you can give it all the love it deserves.*
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
About the author
Steve is a dad to a human baby and a fur baby, a born and bred Utahn, and an occasional writer who enjoys sports, food, and fast cars.