If you have a chronic digestive issue, you are not alone. Digestive problems like constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and gastrointestinal infections are more common than you think. According to the National Institutes of Health, at least 60 million Americans have suffered from a digestive disease. Over 48 million of those cases required medical attention, whether at a doctor’s office, outpatient department, or the ER.
While more and more people are looking for a gastroenterology specialist, only a few are willing to talk about their digestive problems to their friends and family. They feel ashamed and embarrassed and rarely ask others for advice.
You are what you eat, which is you need to make changes to your lifestyle if you want to reduce your risk of developing digestive issues. A poor diet, undiscovered allergies, and an unhealthy lifestyle are just some of the most common reasons why digestive problems occur.
1. Drink more water
One of the most straightforward lifestyle changes you can make is to drink more water. Water is incredibly important to the digestion process. Without it, your body will not be able to process essential nutrients and digest solid food adequately. Your internal processes start to slow down, eventually leading to dehydration and lower blood pressure.
Drink at least 80 ounces of water a day. Noncaffeinated drinks also work counts against your recommended daily intake. Coffee and sugary drinks like soda do not count. You might have to drink more water to compensate for caffeinated beverages.
2. Add probiotics to your diet
Probiotics are helpful bacteria and yeasts that live in your digestive system and aid in its processes. Your natural gut flora is composed of microorganisms that we call probiotics. These microorganisms produce essential vitamins and fatty acids that help support the growth of other good bacteria in your intestines. They do not cause diseases and even keep you from developing them.
Adding more probiotics to your regular diet helps break down the food you eat, prevents new infections, and keeps your digestive system from getting inflamed. You can either take supplements or consume food such as kimchi and yogurt.
3. Change how you eat
Your eating habits play a significant role in how you digest food. Changes to the way you eat can dramatically improve your digestive health and your overall enjoyment of food.
For instance, don’t rush through your meal. Take your time to chew your food properly. If possible, avoid distractions like television so you can focus on the act of eating alone. Be more mindful of the food’s taste, smell, and texture. Eating is not just for sustenance, and you can derive enjoyment from food.
Avoid stress eating. Many of us rely on food for comfort when we are sad or upset. All your body’s systems are interconnected, so eating while feeling a certain way can affect your digestion.
Don’t be shy talking about your digestive problems. Everyone has had them, and we all stand to benefit if we start having conversations about our digestive health. Some issues can be fixed by a few changes to your lifestyle, while others require medical intervention.