When you eat, you’re most likely concerned with what food sounds appealing or will taste good. When you rely solely on your cravings and taste buds to select your food, you may order chicken wings at dinner or delve into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s while watching reruns of The Office. These foods may make your taste buds happy and fulfill your cravings, but will wreak havoc on your digestive system. Dairy (yes, that means cheese), spicy foods, fatty foods, and fried foods should be avoided if you want to get rid of bloating, gas, diarrhea, heartburn, and constipation. There are also several other ways to improve your digestion.
By being aware of what foods make you feel good (and bad), and by following a few simple, time-tested tips, you can improve your digestion and enjoy the well-earned side effects of weight loss, regular bowel movements, and a noticeable lack of bloating and gas.
1. Make fiber your go-to
By eating fruit for breakfast, snacking on whole grains, and increasing the number of raw and cooked vegetables you consume, you will be naturally increasing your daily fiber intake. Simply put, fiber pushes food through your digestive track so those fries you ate at dinner don’t get stuck in your stomach or intestines for longer than they should. Eating a healthy amount of fiber will help you lose weight or maintain your current weight, while keeping your digestive system running smoothly.
2. Properly chew your food
This may sound like a no-brainer, but how many times have you ravaged a Chipotle burrito or emptied a bag of chips at an unnatural rate? Many people forget that your digestive system begins the second you put food in your mouth. Your teeth mash the food into small pieces as your saliva begins the initial breakdown process. If you don’t properly chew your food, and instead take giant bites and huge gulps, the rest of your digestive system will have to work overtime to break down your food to a proper level.
3. Move, move, move
Physical exercise stimulates your intestines to help waste move efficiently through the body. To keep your digestion on track, regular exercise is a must. If you’ve just eaten a big meal, give yourself 30 minutes and then incorporate some gentle movement into your day like walking or performing slow, low-impact yoga poses aimed at digestion. Moving with care may actually help your body process the food and ease the bloating and cramping that typically follows overeating.
4. Turn to water
Your body needs plenty of water to keep your digestion lubricated and running smoothly. Coffee and soda addicts should be aware that these beverages actually dehydrate your body and can hinder your natural digestion. Instead, keep your water bottle filled and choose herbal tea over coffee to push food through your digestive tract and keep your body free of indigestion’s nasty side effects.
5. Eat clean
To make your stomach happy, steer clear of foods that are high in fat as they tend to noticeably slow down the digestive process and cause constipation. So, regardless of how much you love tempura shrimp, keep in mind that fried foods should only be eaten rarely and in moderation. In addition, fatty meats can clog up your digestive system and leave you gassy, cramped, and bloated. Choose lean cuts of meat like pork loin and skinless chicken.
6. Get daily probiotics
To give your digestive process a little added boost, incorporate probiotics into your daily life. Probiotics are helpful live bacteria and yeasts that keep your gut happy, healthy, and operating smoothly. Probiotics are available in supplement form, but for a natural, real-food fix, incorporate yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and even miso soup into your diet.