The 10 Commandments of a Healthy Digestive System
You can keep your digestive system steady and balanced and avoid many of the rumbling, tumbling, and unpleasant symptoms of indigestion if you follow these 10 commandments:
Thou shalt chew. When you slow down and chew your food fully, you avoid swallowing air that can lead to gas, bloating, and nausea.
Thou shalt eat smaller meals. Eat too much at one sitting and you can put stress on your lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the muscle keeping food from moving back up into your esophagus and causing heartburn. Opt for smaller portions of the most nutritious foods, with an emphasis on fibre from fruits and vegetables and leaner protein.
Thou shalt eat frequently. Once the smaller meal commandment is adopted, you will need to eat more frequently to ensure that you get all your nutrients. This helps to regulate blood sugars as well. Don't skip meals, and try to give yourself ample time to eat - even when you're at your busiest.
Thou shalt eat plenty of fibre. Be sure your diet features fibre-rich foods. Insoluble fibre, AKA roughage like the skin on your apple, seeds, and nuts, helps to soak up moisture to soften and bulk up your stool to prevent constipation. And soluble fibre, found in veggies, fruits, beans, and whole grains, is a gooey binding agent that helps to reduce cholesterol. If you find it difficult to get all the fibre you need, there are psyllium fibre products that can help bump up your daily fibre intake.
Thou shalt let gravity do its work. You may be tempted to take a load off after a big meal. But getting "horizontal" for an after-dinner nap puts gravity at a disadvantage. Stay upright for about 3 hours after eating to let food move down toward your stomach and intestines. If you must tuck into bed after tucking into a big meal, elevate the head of your bed about 15 cm.
Thou shalt know and avoid thy triggers. Give your digestive system a break from the foods and drinks that seem to cause you the most stomach upset. Some of the most common indigestion triggers include spicy foods, fatty or greasy foods, chocolate, and caffeine. If you do overindulge, there are over-the-counter products available to help ease the discomforts of indigestion.
Thou shalt avoid alcohol. Like other causes of digestive drama, alcohol is a stomach irritant. Alcohol also weakens the sphincter (valve) at the bottom of the esophagus (the LES) - causing acid to back up or reflux into the esophagus, leading to indigestion.
Thou shalt not smoke. Smoking weakens the LES, allowing stomach acids to rise up into the esophagus and triggering heartburn. Smokers also suffer higher risk of ulcers and Crohn's disease.
Thou shalt move more. Activity and movement encourages food to move through your body. Fit in regular exercise to support healthy digestion, prevent constipation, and reduce your risk of colon cancer.
Thou shalt not ignore thy body. When you feel the urge to "go," go! Your body should not be put on hold because of a busy schedule. Waste material that hangs out in your intestines for too long gets drier and drier and firmer and firmer, so that when you finally get around to going, stool is hard to pass and can lead to straining and, possibly, hemorrhoids.