Have you ever experienced bloating, constipation, or cramping?
Chances are, you probably said yes.
However, there are many at-home adjustments you can make to reduce this. Your digestive health affects your immune system, mental health, and helps your body naturally detox. Yet, 60–70 million Americans are affected by digestive diseases.
Continue reading to learn more about small diet changes you can implement to make for a happy and healthy gut.
Here are some ideas to improve your git health.
You've probably heard of probiotics before. Put simply, probiotics are the "helpful bacteria" in our gut, such as yeast.
Sources of probiotics include fermented foods such as:
Prebiotics are just as important for your digestive system. Prebiotics are types of fibers that help feed probiotics. Therefore, it's crucial to have both prebiotics and probiotics in your diet as they work together to maintain your gut health.
Sources of prebiotics include:
Slightly under-ripe bananas
What else should I do?
Drinking water before, during, and after a meal can help your body break down the food you're eating. On top of that, staying hydrated helps prevent constipation. Drinking plenty of water can also help with clearer skin, improved mood, and better overall health.
On average, it's best to aim for around 8 glasses a day. However, if you exercise more or live in a hotter environment, you'll need to drink more water.
The foods you eat can be excellent sources of hydration. Fruits such as watermelon and spinach are almost 100% water by weight. Other beverages and caffeinated drinks can also contribute to your intake, but it's best to make sure you're drinking lots of water as well!
When we chew our food, our mouth releases digestive enzymes that help to break down our food.
Slow down and make sure to chew!
This can help your body digest and metabolize meals more efficiently, reducing bloating and GI issues.
If you notice yourself feeling bloated or nauseous after eating a certain type of food (gluten, dairy, etc), try an elimination diet.
With an elimination diet, you should pull out the foods you're sensitive to, then reintroduce them slowly and observe how your body responds.
A food journal is a great way to keep track of food triggers and sensitivities.
However, it is best to see a health professional (such as a nutritionist or gastrointestinal specialist) before starting an elimination diet to make sure you're still getting the nutrients your body needs.
Any restrictive diet obviously should be under the guidance of a medical professional—especially if there are medical comorbidity or medications taken for a condition such as diabetes.
Here are some takeaways on this from a public health point of view.
Your gut health affects your overall health, which is why it's so important to maintain a balanced gut. Recent strides have been made in human microbiome research over the years. You can read more about your microbiome in some of our past blog posts.
To learn more about your microbiome, check out some past blog posts below.