5 Ways to Improve Your Digestive Health (and Lose Weight)

The idea of your digestive system playing a role in your ability to lose weight makes sense when you take a moment to think it through. When you overeat or consume foods that are hard for your body to break down, your digestion slows and rather than being eliminated quickly, the waste gets compacted within your body. Over 60 million Americans experience the painful side effects of a poor digestive system. If you’ve ever felt bloated, constipated, gassy, or suffered from heartburn or diarrhea, chances are you’re feeling the impact of poor digestive health.

These painful and pesky symptoms may be the first sign of trouble. What you may not notice is that over time a sluggish digestive system and waste build up leads to weight gain. To beat off an expanding waistline you’ll need to make efforts to keep your digestion running smoothly and quickly so that the food you eat today isn’t sitting around inside your body tomorrow night.

1. Get enough digestive enzymes

Sauerkraut

Load up on foods that aid in digestion. | iStock.com

By sticking to a diet high in digestive enzymes and fermented foods, you can keep your system running smoothly. Raw fermented veggies like sauerkraut or kimchi are high in these enzymes, as is miso soup and yogurt. Herbs like peppermint and ginger can be boiled in water to make a tea that will also help move things along.

2. Increase physical activity

young man running on the beach

Exercise basically helps everything. | iStock.com

Not only does exercise burn off those excess calories, but it’s also a secret tapping into your body’s healthy digestive process. Being active keeps your digestion moving, resulting in more frequent elimination and weight loss. When you feel constipated the first thing some doctors recommend is getting exercise to help move things along.

3. Drink plenty of water

Man wearing gym clothes and a gym bag grabs fruit and a bottle of water for after his workout

Don’t skimp on your water intake. | iStock.com

Being properly hydrated keeps your body functioning properly and helps to flush waste out of your system. The secret is to drink most of your water on an empty stomach or before you eat, which allows the water to go straight to your cells. Drinking water with meals or after a meal can actually dilute your solid foods and hinder your stomach’s ability to digest them quickly and efficiently.

4. Pay attention to food combinations

Steak and potatoes

Some foods contain little to no fiber. | iStock.com

You’ve probably noticed that certain food combinations leave you feeling bloated and gassy. This is because while we’ve been told a balanced meal contains protein, starch, and a small serving of vegetables, in reality protein and starch should never be eaten together. Fruits and vegetables are digested the quickest, then carbohydrates, and finally protein. If you eat mashed potatoes with your steak, the potatoes get caught up with the naturally slow-to-digest meat and can clog up your system. As a rule, fruit should always be eaten alone and on an empty stomach and protein and grains or starches shouldn’t be combined.

5. Healthy amounts of fiber

salad

Always choose fiber packed foods for consistent digestive health. | iStock.com

Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains contain ample amounts of fiber, which is one way to speed up your digestive system. Fiber improves your digestion by pushing food waste and toxins through the body to increase and improve your elimination, resulting in weight loss. People between the ages of 19 and 50 should eat between 25 and 38 grams of fiber daily. Get your dose of this digestive friendly substance by loading up on sweet potatoes, beans, carrots, lentils, peas, dates, pears, and apples.

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