The occasional upset stomach is perfectly normal—constant pain and discomfort is not. If you struggle with bloating, constipation and gas, it’s time to take an honest look at your digestive health and commit to making some changes for the better. Small changes to your gut health are easy to adopt and have a huge payoff in the long run.
How poor digestion impacts your life
Everyone is bound to encounter a bit of indigestion at some point. We’re all too familiar with the discomfort that results when our digestive tracts become irregular. You may experience bloating, gas, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea or numerous other symptoms of indigestion. At the very least, poor digestion is a nuisance—in more severe cases, these symptoms can mess with your day-to-day life.
Poor dietary choices paired with a sedentary lifestyle are a recipe for chronic indigestion. People who regularly deal with poor digestion might associate food with discomfort, which can turn dinner with friends into a stressful night spent mostly in the bathroom. The symptoms of indigestion are embarrassing around friends and colleagues, not to mention disruptive to your productivity at work or school. Recurring bouts of indigestion force you to put life on hold or avoid going out altogether.
Additionally, poor digestion is more than annoying or embarrassing—it can put a serious damper on your health as a whole. Poorly functioning digestive tracts inhibit the absorption of key nutrients, which means your bodily systems can’t operate at their best. Indigestion usually indicates a high volume of bad bacteria in the gut and puts you at greater risk for contracting infections. It’s safe to say the health of your gut is a good measurement of your overall health.
Tips for improving digestive health
Poor digestion is all too common, but mild cases are relatively easy to fix. A few dietary and lifestyle changes can positively impact digestive health and help your body get into a regular flow. Here are a few suggestions everyone should incorporate into their daily routine:
- Add fiber to your diet: The old adage holds true—an apple a day keeps the doctor away. That’s probably because apples are loaded with fiber! Soluble and insoluble fiber work together to bulk up stool and draw excessive water out of the colon. The result is regular bowel movements that are easier to pass. Both types of fiber are easy to build into a healthy diet. Stock up on whole grains, raw fruits and vegetables, oat and wheat bran, nuts, seeds and legumes.
- Get your fill of probiotics: Probiotics are healthy bacteria that live in your gut. The gut microbiome is a delicate balance of good and bad bacteria that’s easily thrown off without the help of probiotics. Healthy bacteria are essential for combatting the bad kinds, and they provide additional health benefits like a strong immune system, improved absorption of nutrients and better digestive health. You can take a daily probiotic supplement or find these helpful germs in fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, tempeh and kombucha.
- Drink plenty of water: The recommended daily intake of water varies from one person to the next depending on your activity level, weight, age and health condition. Everyone is different, but the fact remains that we all need water to keep our digestive tracts moving. Similar to fiber, water adds mass to stool and combats constipation. Do your gut a favor and pour yourself a tall glass of refreshing water!
- Create a weekly exercise schedule: People who stay active tend to move things along much easier in their guts. Remember, consistency is key. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, one highly intense workout session isn’t enough to cure your digestion woes. The best results come from engaging in moderate exercise a few days per week.
- Schedule your meal times: Constantly switching up when you eat meals and snacks will confuse your digestive system. Commit to eating at the same time each day so your gut can fall into a predictable pattern. Consistent snack and meal times will help alleviate symptoms of indigestion and make trips to the bathroom a lot less stressful.
You can start incorporating these tips right away for a healthier gut. No matter who you are, it’s important to make healthy dietary and lifestyle choices in order to free yourself from the aggravating symptoms and long-term side effects of poor digestion. When you take care of your gut, it will take care of your body!