Simple Remedies for a Weak Digestive System
All of us think that digestion is simply eating food and eliminating the wastes about a day or two later. But, are we aware about how food travels through our entire digestive system, before giving a visit to the bathroom?
Yes, it is indeed a mystery to most of us and includes a symphony of hormones, organs and enzymes working together.
But, for many, this symphony is very badly orchestrated We all know how it feels when our stomach isn’t doing great.
Around 90 to 95% of weak digestion is caused by fermenting, going rancid and also undigested food rotting in your gut.
Below mentioned are the chief causes of a weak and unhealthy digestive system.
Eating excess amount of food causes the food to remain in your stomach for long hours, more likely turning into unwanted stubborn fat.
Also, it causes frequent acidity, heartburn, gases, nausea and diarrhea.
2. Unhealthy food intake
Frequent consumption of junk, fast food and processed foods which are high in carbohydrates, fats, empty calories and salt weakens our digestive system.
They are further low in fibre, water and nutrient content, all of which are responsible for healthy excretion.
Lack of these nutrients causes frequent gases, bloating, poor digestion and irritable bowel syndrome.
3. Inadequate water intake
Consuming less than 8-10 glasses of water per day is directly linked to constipation and weak digestion
4. Lack of sleep
Insomnia or lack of sound sleep causes dyspepsia, acid reflux or IBS.
The lesser you sleep, the more your gut microbiome is affected causing digestive issues.
5. Exercising right after food
If you disallow proper time to your body to digest food and immediately exercise, you might face stomach pain, constipation, vomiting or uneasiness.
Needless to say, almost every one of us must have experienced the above-mentioned symptoms.
Apart from my previous articles on digestive issues, I will also share some simple remedies for a weak digestive system
1. Add more bulk, and thus, eat more fibre
A diet high in fibre holds water and provides roughage to the stools, pushes the bowels further and eases digestion.
However, fibre can be soluble fibre (commonly found in oats, bran, nuts and seeds) or insoluble fibre (found in whole vegetables, fruits with skin, whole grains).
So, the next time you opt to eat an apple or a pear, do not peel the skin.
2. Choose the good fats
Fats greases your bowels, causing an easy defecation. Prefer good fats found in healthy nuts like almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, fish.
Studies show that high consumption of omega 3 fatty acids reduces chances of Inflammatory bowel diseases (Ashwin N Ananthakrishnan et al. Gut 2014 May)
3. Drink more
Sufficient fluid intake is required for proper bowel formation and to prevent constipation.
With summer looming over our heads, we do not have a choice really!! 1 to 2 litres of plain water should be a must for a day.
Go for fresh Nimbu-paani, coconut water, buttermilk, non-caffeinated drinks or herbal teas.
Studies too show that fresh fruits and vegetables are more hydrating than plain H2O
Probiotics are friendly bacteria which are known to improve digestive health.
They are found in curd, buttermilk, bananas, fermented foods like sauerkraut. Try incorporating probiotics in your daily diet.
Prebiotics are compounds in food that induces the growth or activity of friendly bacteria and fungi in the gut when consumed.
They are found in onions, Bananas, berries, garlic, oats, Prebiotic rich drinks or supplements too.
6. Chew and bite properly
Digestion starts from your mouth. The more you chew, the more saliva is produced which helps digestion in stomach by releasing adequate digestive juices.
If you chew your food properly, your digestive system has to do less work further.
Studies by Jutta Keller et al. Viszeralmedizin, 2014, June have proved that improper chewing of food reduces nutrient absorption.
7. Reduce the stress
Many of us must have experienced a crazy - busy day and invariably an upset stomach.
When your body is in a fight or-flight mode, it assumes that you do not have time to digest or rest.
High stress levels divert the blood and energy away from the digestive tract. So, avoid stressing yourself.
Regular meditation, deep breathing, yoga and behavioral therapy can be of a great help here.
8. Move more
Regular walks or exercises helps prevent constipation and eases the passage of stools thus preventing inflammatory bowel conditions.
So next time you have enough free time, prefer putting on your sport shoes and going for long walks
9. Ditch smoking and alcohol
Smoking is associated with stomach ulcers and gastrointestinal cancer (P C Lunney et al. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2015, Jul)
Also, alcohol consumption has been linked to gastro intestinal bleeding, acidity and ulcers too. Reducing alcohol consumption helps improve these symptoms.
10. Late night binges
Eating late in the night and going to bed immediately causes food reflux.
Thus, prefer having meals 3to 4 hours before going to bed at night for easy digestion and a sound sleep too.
The healthy closure
Maintaining a food diary will help analyse foods which trigger or relieve gastrointestinal problems.
As Dietitians we believe that real food and a healthy lifestyle is a powerful medicine and just a few adjustments to WHAT, WHEN AND HOW YOU EAT can noticeably improve your digestion.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sneha Jain, Dietician
Sneha is a Post graduate with specialization in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a university topper and holds 5+ years of experience in Apollo hospitals, VLCC, slimsutra and first cry fit-kids . She has successfully counselled clients all over India for weight loss, weight gain, diabetes, hypertension, PCOD, hypothyroid, Pregnancy and lactation and growth charts for children. She has her own diet consultation e-clinic (diet_diariez)
She believes in customized diets and eating local and seasonal foods. Her counselling not only involves diet planning, but also lifestyle modification and stress relief strategies.