The human digestive system is a complex environment containing millions of microbes and bacteria which are all carefully balanced. But the demands of modern life can knock these bacteria out of sync and upset your gut altogether. This imbalance can cause all sorts of uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating, constipation and much more, but there are foods, habit changes and natural remedies that can help.
Let's learn all about digestive health and explore some easy ways to keep everything happy and functioning at its best…
What is the digestive system?
Our digestive systems are pretty big. They stretch from our mouths to our bottoms and include several essential organs like the liver, gallbladder, gastrointestinal tract, and pancreas.
These components work seamlessly to break down the food and drink we consume into the nutrients our bodies need to function. So, what happens when something isn’t digesting properly or functioning well?
Common Digestive System Issues
Acid reflux or heartburn
This common digestive problem happens when your stomach acid doesn’t want to stay put. It’s usually because you’ve just eaten a full meal or something that has placed your stomach in distress.
Celiac disease is a gluten intolerance that can cause pain, fatigue, bloating, stool issues, and more.
Crohn’s, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and other Inflammatory Bowel Diseases are incredibly painful and more common than you think. They’re thought to be genetic, but the root cause is unknown.
These usually appear when you have too high cholesterol or if your gallbladder isn’t functioning well.
How to improve your digestive health at home
Apart from surgeries like gallbladder removal, most remedies for digestive issues start with the food you’re eating. There are other things you can try as well, so let’s explore a few options:
1. Fill up on fibre
Fibre is an essential part of your daily diet, and you’re supposed to have at least 30g of it per day. Some call it roughage, but it’s essentially non-digestible carbohydrates and helps feed the good bacteria in your system while reducing the chances of diarrhoea or constipation.
Good sources of fibre include whole grains, beans and lentils, fruits, vegetables and more. Plus, they’re likely to fill you up for longer as your digestive works to draw out the nutrients and may help with weight loss too.
2. Take stomach-settling supplements
Herbs and supplements can support your overall health and wellness. Some, like Swedish bitters and digestive bitters, are ideal for the digestive system specifically. They’re a carefully crafted mixture of herbs designed to help with digestion due to their bitter taste, which can activate your tastebuds and the digestive system overall.
3. Stay hydrated
Proper fluid intake is essential - not only for your digestion but for your overall health. We’re all supposed to have around 2 litres of water every day, though this should increase if you exercise.
If you consume enough water, food will pass through your GI tract and digestive system far easier, and the fibre you’re eating can absorb what it needs to prevent constipation too.
4. Try probiotics
Probiotic supplements aim to increase the number of good bacteria in your system. They are useful when your digestive system is upset, and your bacteria levels are out of balance.
There are plenty of ‘live’ yoghurts, drinks and health supplements which contain these probiotics, so why not try them for 3-4 days and see if your upset calms down?
5. Avoid overly spicy or fatty foods
Foods that contain high levels of spice, including garlic and onion, can cause digestive issues for some people and are no problem for others. If you feel yourself developing heartburn, stomach pains or bowel discomforts after a spicy meal, then perhaps lay off them for a while.
On the other hand, fatty foods aren’t great for anyone. Fat is more difficult to digest than other products and makes your stomach and GI tract work that much harder, so it can cause pain or heartburn as your body tries to cope. Instead, choose lean meats and fish, and try grilling over frying.
6. Get into a routine
Routines are important. They help our bodies learn when to expect things, help train our minds to function well and help keep our mental health on track. So, it makes sense to get into a routine to help our digestive systems, right?
Aim to eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks at similar times every day to help your digestive system learn when it needs to get to work. Also, you should aim to take regular toilet breaks and go when you feel the urge - never force it.
7. Lose some weight
The more you eat, the more your digestive system needs to work, so to give it a rest and improve how you feel, why not consider cutting down on a few things? This could help you lose a few pounds, and even a small weight loss around your waist can reduce any discomfort you may have from bloating or heartburn.
To amp up the benefits and minimise bloating altogether, consider getting out and about exercising. Any kind of physical activity helps keep your whole body moving and can reduce the chances of gas build-up. It could lower your stress levels too.
8. Improve your mental health
John Hopkins Medicine has said previously how the ‘Gut Brain’ can impact your actual brain because the two are connected. So, it makes sense that to improve your digestive health, you should invest in some self-care and try to improve your mental health.
So, consider doing some exercises to destress like long baths, walks and talking to friends. The importance of a good night’s sleep can’t be ignored either. And there’s also the option of talking to a therapist if you need to. These mental health support tasks may not sound like they’ll help with digestive issues, but there are chemicals released when you’re stressed or anxious that can impact your GI tract.
Your digestive system is changeable, chemically rich and super hardworking, so do what you can to help things along, and you might find you feel better and healthier overall as a result. Are you ready to start supporting your digestive system?
Join Panache Desai each weekday morning for support in reconnecting to the wellspring of calm and peace that lives within you and that has the power to counterbalance all of the fear, panic, and uncertainty that currently engulfs the world.
Designed To Move You From Survival and Fear to Safety and Peace. Available Monday - Friday. Meditation begins at 9 AM. Access early to hear Panache's monologue - around 8:30 AM.
...on all things life, wellness, love, transformation and spirituality...
PLUS! Get your FREE Guide: 12 Mindfulness Practices to a Peaceful Mind