Everyone experiences occasional digestive symptoms such as upset stomach, gas, heartburn, nausea, constipation or diarrhea. The foods you eat and the lifestyle you live have a direct impact on your digestive health.

Your digestive system is exceptionally important for your overall health. It’s responsible for processing the food you eat.

Through a few simple lifestyle changes in diet and physical activity, you can help your digestive system do the job it is meant to do more efficiently: fully deliver and absorb nutrients for overall health and smoothly rid the body of its unwanted waste.

Here are six things you need to know about how to keep your digestive system clean and functioning well. 

1. Drink plenty of water

Low fluid intake is a common cause of constipation. We need to drink at least 2/3 litres of water a day to keep our system well hydrated. 

Drinking fluids is critical to keeping your body healthy and maintaining the function of every system including your heart, brain and muscles. Fluids carry nutrients into your cells, flush bacteria and prevent constipation. Being hydrated regulates the body temperature, keep joints lubricated, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, and keep organs functioning properly. Being well-hydrated also improves sleep quality, cognition, and mood.

6 benefits of staying hydrated

  1. Water helps prevent dry mouth. Water keeps your throat and lips moist and prevents your mouth from feeling dry.
  2. Water promotes cardiovascular health.
  3. Water helps cleanse your body — inside and out.
  4. Water keeps the skin healthy.
  5. Water helps muscles and joints work better.
  6. It helps maintain blood pressure.
Drinking water is critical to sustain life and overall health.

2. Avoid foods that irritate your digestive tract 

Some people may tolerate large quantities of spices and others may not. Comprehend what’s working for you and eat accordingly. Substances that also do not suit everyone are red chillies, spicy spices, caffeine, alcohol, sugar- and fat-rich desserts. Spoiled or unwashed foods can cause unhealthy digestive. Bacteria from old or raw foods can also cause food poisoning, cramps, or other issues if it gets into your system. It can cause changes in the intestinal cells resulting in poor absorption.

Here are 5 foods to avoid

  1. Too much spicy food – Capsaicin, the hot ingredient in chilli peppers, can add a kick of flavour to any meal, however, may cause indigestion and heartburn for some people.
  2. Dairy – For individuals with lactose intolerance, dairy products can cause gas, bloating, cramping and diarrhoea. People with lactose (a sugar present in milk, The inability to fully digest sugar) intolerance do not produce enough lactase, an enzyme that breaks down lactose, the sugar in milk. Also, dairy products, like milk, are sometimes used to relieve ulcer pain because it coats the stomach lining. However, milk stimulates the stomach to produce more acid, which can aggravate ulcers.
  3. Alcohol Alcohol can irritate and inflame the stomach lining, causing symptoms like nausea and vomiting. Alcohol also relaxes the oesophagal sphincter, the muscles that keep acid confined to the stomach, which can cause heartburn. Excessive drinking can cause more serious problems, such as nutrient malabsorption, stomach bleeding, pancreas damage, and liver disease.
  4. High-Fat Foods – Dietary fats slow digestion, which can make you feel uncomfortably full and increase pressure on the oesophagal sphincter, causing heartburn. People with pre-existing stomach conditions should be especially careful when consuming foods that can irritate the digestive system. There are alternatives you can try for these five foods, such as replacing your favourite dairy foods with lactose-free products, drinking decaffeinated tea, coffee, and soda, and eating lower-fat foods.
  5. Processed Foods – Some people don’t always put a lot of thought into what’s in the processed foods they eat. A large number of processed foods, like chips or premade frozen meals, are also often fried or high in fat. When possible, making meals yourself or buying foods that are made fresh is often a better alternative to buying processed foods.

3. Exercise and keep stress levels down

Too much stress or anxiety causes your digestive system to go into overdrive. Stress affects digestive tract permeability, causes an imbalance in gut bacteria and increases your risk of inflammation. Moderate exercise on a daily basis has shown to combat this stress effectively, restoring a sense of balance in physical, mental and emotional well-being. Find stress-reducing activities that you enjoy and practice them on a regular basis to keep your digestive system healthy. 

Here are some easy exercises that can help aid in digestion and may even cut down belly fat:

  1. Brisk walking. Walking is one of the simplest exercises to include in your workout regime.
  2. Cycling. A bike ride is also quite effective in the smooth functioning of the digestive system
  3. Yoga. In general, practising yoga asana for exercise is beneficial for your digestive system as it supports good circulation to the digestive organs, strengthens the muscular supports around the digestive organs, and stimulates good elimination
  4. Breathing exercise. Proper breathing pattern could help aid in problems like heartburn and bloating. All you need to do is sit up straight and practise breathing deeply and slowly, in and out, using your belly muscles. This can help you relax and thereby manage your stress levels as well. 
  5. Crushes – This ab workout focuses on the abdominal muscles to bring back the digestive system on track. You can try different variations of this exercise like vertical leg crunch, long arm crunch and reverse crunch. Sit-ups or crunches are one of the best exercises for healthy digestion.

4. Make dietary fibre your friend 

Plan your meals to include fibre-rich foods such as whole grains, oatmeal, beans, nuts, fruit and plenty of vegetables. Dietary fiber helps ensure that your gastrointestinal tract works smoothly. It makes sure that the digestive process moves at a pace that enables your body to efficiently absorb nutrients from the ingested food. Dietary fibre also helps regulate stool consistency and movement of food through the system.

5. Eat Real Food

The typical Western diet — high in refined carbs, saturated fat and food additives — has been linked to an increased risk of developing digestive disorders.

Real food is whole, single ingredient food that is low in additives and rich in nutrients. However, since processed foods became popular in the 20th century, the Western diet has shifted toward ready-to-eat meals.

While processed foods are convenient, they also harm your health. In fact, following a diet based on real food may be one of the most important things you can do to maintain good health and a high quality of life.

Here are 6 best real food to eat

  1. Fruits and Vegetables
  2. Whole grains
  3. Beans and Legumes
  4. Fish and Seafood
  5. Nuts and Seeds
  6. Eggs and Meat

Some Examples of Real Healthy Foods

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