Let’s talk about digestive health! While often overlooked, it’s also one of the body’s most important functions. In fact, good digestion is how your body is able to carry nutrients to other areas for total support. It’s an amazing process!
When digestive problems arise, it means our body can be blocked from getting important nutrients needed for critical functions- and it could cause even more issues in other body systems down the line.
To remedy the situation, let’s look at what could be causing digestive issues, how to promote a healthy gut and which delicious foods promote better digestion.
Here we go!
What are Common Signs of Poor Digestive System Health?
First, let’s consider some of the signs that point to poor digestive health. Sometimes they’re subtle, so it’s easy for them to fly under the radar. It’s really important to always take the time to analyze how you’re feeling. If your gut isn’t feeling right, then the following signs + scenarios could be a strong hint that it's time to take action. Let’s take a look.
It’s a classic for a reason. This is one of the very first indicators that digestion isn't happening like it should. There’s a chance you’ll feel bloating + indigestion in addition to having irregular bowel movements. You may also occasionally feel like your stomach acid is unhappy in general.
If this is happening, it could mean your stomach is having difficulty digesting the food you recently ate.
Too Much Sugar in Your Diet
Sometimes a sweet treat can really brighten our day. In other cases, too much of a good thing can turn the your stomach sour. When there’s too much sugar in your diet, your stomach runs the risk of not having enough good bacteria to regulate your digestive process.
An excessive amount of sugar can cause a wipe-out and may even inflame your digestive tract as a result.
When there’s any sign of weight gain, digestion might be the one to blame - if you know your eating + exercise habits aren't the culprits. If your digestive system is having difficulty processing food, it will sit in, and be retained by, the body for much longer.
On the other hand, you could experience weight loss if your digestive tract isn't fully absorbing the nutrients it's supposed to. If that’s the case, there might be an issue with your gut bacteria, and the balance of good bacteria + bad bacteria within it.
Sleep Issues or Feelings of Fatigue
Tossing and turning at night?
An unhealthy digestive system can actually cause issues with your sleep patterns. The body makes serotonin, a hormone that aids with mood + sleep. It also just happens to primarily hang out in your body’s gut.
When your body isn’t a fan of the foods you consume, it will tell you in ways that go beyond digestive symptoms or digestive disorders alone.
Take your skin for instance. If you’re consuming too much sugar or grease, your body may not like it and will alert you on the skin’s surface with a few breakouts. The same goes for other foods you consume too.
Too much dairy? Breakouts. Fast food? Breakouts. See what we mean? Your skin can be the spokesperson for your gut!
Right along with irritated skin, your body may also be telling you that you’re going through a food intolerance. In some cases, you may also experience a few allergic reactions.
These can be quite serious and yield the following symptoms:
- Stomach pain
- Mood swings
If you notice any of these signs, make sure to check in with your primary care professional, or a nutritionist or dietitian, to fully address the issue. Some of these signs might even err more on the severe side, so it’s crucial to seek out proper medical care if your symptoms worsen.
What Can I Do to Prevent Digestion Issues?
Now that you know some of the signs that point to poor digestion, let’s find out how you can aid digestion instead of hindering it.
We’ve put together a list of simple, all-natural solutions to switch up your daily routine for the better. Each of the following methods will not only help with digestion, but also help boost other areas of your body, like your immune system + mental wellness.
When you make an effort to improve your overall health, you'll likely see more health benefits pop up than you expected!
There’s no time like the present to give your digestive health a little kickstart!
Lower the Stress
Stress can affect anyone at any point. It can also have different levels of severity, and the most severe levels can leave you sick + vulnerable. It also can reverberate to any part of the body, including the digestive system. Prevent this by taking breaks away from the office while at work. Go for a walk or run.
However you distract yourself, just make sure to take your mind off whatever was causing you stress. Easing your mind eases the rest of the body. And that’s exactly what we need sometimes!
Get Your Rest
Sleep is such a beautiful thing! And even better when uninterrupted.
Prioritize getting enough rest throughout the week. Each night, try and schedule at least 7-8 hours.
If you’re feeling tired, listen to your body and take a nap when you can. Sleep is precious, and once you lose it, there’s no easy way to get it back.
Long days can leave you ravenous and ready to devour a meal! While that might feel good now, it certainly won’t later. Quick eating is a common cause for a cramping, bloating + generally unhappy tummy.
We know it’s tough, but try to eat your meals slowly. Actually chew your food. By eating at a more normal pace, you’ll be able to gauge how your body’s feeling. Feeling full after only half the meal? Feel free to stop to give your body the ability to digest it all. You can always save the rest of the meal to enjoy later!
Drink More Water
Hydration is key! Did you know that additional water comes to aid the mucosal lining in the intestines? Hydration essentially protects them. It also sustains your gut’s good bacteria.
Pay attention to when you need to hydrate. One of the best reminders is to keep a water bottle by your desk or bed so you’ll continue to drink throughout the day + night.
Also monitor your water intake when you’re exposed to the sun, especially at peak times. Additional sun exposure increases your demand for water.
Check for Food Intolerances
This is essential for functioning! When someone has a food intolerance, it can be difficult to handle if you’re not aware of it. Partner with a doctor if you suspect you have a food intolerance + get it checked out.
Take dairy, for example. If dairy products are a regular part of your lifestyle and you have an intolerance, this could be a recipe for disaster for your digestive system! At the very least, you'll experience general digestive comfort throughout the day, which might be your digestive enzymes trying to tell you they aren't happy.
Once you confirm an intolerance, you’ll have to learn to adapt to new foods + avoid other ones. But it’ll be so worth the transition, and your body will thank you.
Switch Up the Diet
Not every diet can last forever. Change is good! Our tastes and preferences change, and your body will let you know when it’s had enough of something.
Like processed sugar. As your body changes + ages, so will your tolerance for processed sugar + other unnatural foods.
Of course that isn’t to say these foods can’t be enjoyed once in a while, but large amounts consumed in a short time should be monitored. If you’re having digestion-related issues, switching up your diet will help identify the cause.
Start getting in the habit of doing this by planning out a meal list for the week before grocery shopping. It’s a huge time + health saver!
Which Foods are Great for Digestive Health?
To learn how to boost digestion, start with what you’re putting in your body. Give your whole body a refresh - and your digestive system a reboot - by adding the following foods to your next few meals:
- Fiber rich foods like whole grains
- Fermented foods like yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and miso
In addition to these foods, some wonderful herbal teas are great for aiding digestion. Add these to a meal. Better yet, start with a cup in the morning and end with one before bed. Here are a few favorites:
- Ginger tea
- Lemongrass tea
- Peppermint tea
The Bottom Line
So, now you’ve got the 411 on boosting digestion. Feels pretty good, right? Used correctly, this information is life-changing. Most of the time, when people are struggling with their bodies, it goes back to what they’re consuming - and they may not even know it! As they say, you are what you eat.
Digestion an important part of our daily lives + functions. No one should have to go through life with digestion issues - they should definitely be remedied. safety + health are vital components for your overall well-being, so let’s prioritize them… starting with digestion!