Genetics can play a role in your digestive health, but your lifestyle,
diet, and activity level also have a major impact on the way your body
digests food and the way you feel.
Because your digestive system is responsible for absorbing nutrients the
rest of your body relies on to function, it’s important to do everything
you can to maintain it. Often times, that starts with your improving your diet.
Everyone knows that a healthy diet is one of the building blocks of good
health, but what exactly does a “healthy diet” consist of?
Fruits & Vegetables: Whether canned, dried, fresh, or frozen, fruits and vegetables contain
many of the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Most are also high
in fiber and can help your digestive system function better.
Protein: Protein helps to build and repair tissue throughout your entire body,
so it’s important to eat plenty of it. Some good sources of protein
include eggs, nuts, beans, whole grains, lentils, chicken breast, lean
beef, and most types of fish.
Carbohydrates: Yes, carbs are necessary for a well-balanced diet! Carbohydrates are your
body’s main source of energy, so depriving yourself of all carbs
is not healthy.
Water: Water makes up nearly 60 percent of your body, so it’s important
to drink plenty of it. Water is especially important for digestion because
it helps to break down food so that your body can absorb nutrients.
When it comes to healthy eating, find the right balance for your body’s
needs. Some people need more of one vitamin than another. Others require
more protein than carbs. If you’re feeling sluggish throughout the
day or suffer from frequent indigestion or stomach issues, you’re
probably not eating the right foods.
Foods You Should Avoid
- Processed or frozen foods
- Sugary drinks (like soda, juices, and energy drinks)
- Sweets and baked goods
- Fried foods
- Overly processed meats and cheeses
Commonly Ignored Signs and Symptoms of Digestive Problems
People tend to brush digestive problems off, often believing the problem
was a one-time occurrence caused by something they ate. But digestive
issues can be serious. More importantly, they can often be easily treated.
If you experience any of the following issues, talk to your doctor:
- Frequent diarrhea
- Acid reflux
- Belly pain
- Blood in stool
- Irregular bloating
When It’s Time to Call the Doctor
If you experience any of the above symptoms once a month or so, it’s
unlikely you have a serious
gastrointestinal problem. However, you should still mention it to your doctor at your next
physical or appointment.
If you experience frequent digestive problems, talk to your doctor. Your
esophagus and upper-GI tract can be damaged by chronic acid reflux, and
colon cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in the US.
The number of younger adults being diagnosed with it is on the rise, so
don’t be shy about discussing digestive problems or other changes
in bowel habits with your provider.