Our digestive system breaks down the food that we eat into the nutrients that our body needs. Neglecting the health of our digestive system can result in problems with absorbing these essential nutrients. Everyone experiences stomach pain, acidity, constipation, diarrhea, or other digestive symptoms sometimes. But, when these symptoms occur frequently, it indicates that your digestion is not proper. Even after eating a well-thought-out meal, you feel full and bloated for hours afterward, or you have to pass stools immediately, something is wrong with your digestive system, and you need help.
Thankfully, specific changes to your diet and lifestyle can improve your gut health and digestion drastically. Here are some tips to prevent bloating and heartburn and improve digestion naturally.
1. Best Food Combinations
Remember to combine different types of food carefully so they do not stay stagnant in your stomach. This stagnated food feeds harmful bacteria in your gut and creates an imbalance. Some basic rules are not to combine protein, such as meat or cheese, with starchy foods and veggies like rice and potato. Instead, eat starchy vegetables and foods with leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables. Dark chocolate, egg yolks, almond milk, coconut water, lemons, and butter are considered neutral and can be eaten with any food. Make it a point to eat fruits on an empty stomach to prevent bloating.
2. Consume Fermented Foods
Fermentation is actually bacteria and yeast breaking down sugars into alcohol. This process enhances food preservation and boosts the number of good bacteria, also called probiotics. Probiotics have various health benefits, such as better immunity, improved digestion, and weight loss. Yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, etc., contain beneficial probiotics that feed the gut’s good bacteria, restoring the balance.
3. Include Plenty of Fiber
You might already know fiber is beneficial for good digestion. Soluble and insoluble fibers are both beneficial, as soluble fiber (found in oats, legumes, seeds, and nuts) soaks up water and prevents constipation, and insoluble fiber (whole grains) cleans your digestive tract. Consuming a diet rich in fiber reduces the risk of ulcers, acid reflux, hemorrhoids, and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Also include prebiotics, another type of fiber found in fruits and vegetables, as they feed the healthy bacteria in the gut. But do not forget to drink plenty of water with a high-fiber diet to prevent bulky stool and constipation.
4. Manage Stress
Too much stress has been linked to diarrhea, stomach ulcers, constipation, and IBS. The hormones produced when you get stressed affect digestion. When stressed, the body thinks there is no time to rest or digest, and blood and energy needed for digestion are directed away from the digestive system. You can prevent this by managing stress with meditation and relaxation techniques. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, yoga, and acupuncture can also help.
5. Chew Your Food Properly
Chewing food thoroughly releases sufficient saliva (they contain digestive enzymes) to start the digestion process. These enzymes also enter the throat and stomach, further improving digestion. This is why chewing is so important for smooth digestion and nutrient absorption. Ideally, we should chew each mouthful about 30 times.
6. Avoid Bad Habits
Habits like snacking late at night, smoking, and binge drinking are awful for your overall health. They are also responsible for the most common digestive problems. Smoking and too much alcohol can increase the risk of acid reflux and stomach ulcers. Binge drinking can lead to bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. Lying down immediately after eating late at night can cause indigestion and acidity. So, avoid smoking, limit alcohol consumption, and sit up straight for at least a couple of hours after eating for gravity to help food move into the stomach.