Approximately 74 percent of Americans struggle with gastrointestinal discomfort and poor digestion on a regular basis. Are you part of this group?
A lot of people are convinced that poor digestion is something they’re just going to have to live with. That doesn’t have to be the case, though.
There are a lot of lifestyle changes you can make that will help you to feel better and manage your digestion in an effective way.
Read on to learn some useful strategies that will help you to improve digestion and feel your best.
Symptoms of Poor Digestion
Many people are unaware of the signs that their digestion is not up to par. They’ve got so used to living a certain way that they don’t even realize their symptoms are abnormal.
The following are some symptoms you might experience if you’re dealing with poor digestion:
- Feelings of fullness after eating (even small amounts)
- Stomach growling or gurgling
- Burning in the stomach or chest
- Abdominal pain
- An acidic taste in the mouth
You might also experience symptoms that seem to have nothing to do with your digestive system.
If you have a bacterial imbalance in your digestive tract or are struggling with intestinal permeability, you might notice symptoms in other areas of the body.
For example, you might experience skin issues like acne and eczema. You might suffer from sleep disturbances, food intolerances, or even autoimmune diseases as well.
Causes of Poor Digestion
There are lots of reasons why people struggle with poor digestion. The following are some of the most common health conditions that might contribute to your symptoms:
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
- Gastroparesis (this is a condition that prevents the stomach from emptying properly)
- Stomach infections
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Thyroid disease
You might also experience poor digestion as a side effect of certain medications. Drugs like aspirin and other pain relievers can hinder digestion, as can birth control pills, antibiotics, steroid medications, and thyroid medications.
Your lifestyle could make you more prone to poor digestive health as well.
If you eat too quickly or eat when you’re distracted or stressed out, you may have a hard time digesting your food. Eating a high-sugar, highly processed diet can contribute, too, as can chronic stress, fatigue, and bad habits like smoking.
7 Ways to Improve Digestion
Once you know what’s causing your poor digestion, you can start taking steps to improve it. Here are seven strategies you might want to try if your digestive health is holding you back:
1. Give Up Bad Habits
If you’re struggling with poor digestion, some of your habits might be causing the problem or making it worse.
Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are both associated with digestive disorders.
These habits can cause or exacerbate conditions like GERD and acid reflux. They’re linked to stomach ulcers, GI bleeding, and changes to the gut microbiome as well.
Reducing (or eliminating) alcohol consumption and quitting smoking can work wonders for improving your digestive health.
2. Increase Your Fiber Consumption
Increasing your fiber consumption can help you to digest your food more easily.
There are two types of fiber that are beneficial to your digestive tract. Soluble fiber adds bulk to the stool and absorbs water. Insoluble fiber helps to move food through the digestive tract in an efficient way.
Soluble fiber is found in foods like nuts, seeds, legumes, and oats. Insoluble fiber is found in vegetables, wheat bran, and other whole grains.
3. Stay Hydrated
You can also promote good digestion by making sure you’re drinking enough water. If you’re dehydrated, your body is going to have a hard time moving food through the digestive tract and disposing of it.
Try to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water each day. You may want to consider adding some salt to your water, too, to ensure your electrolytes are balanced.
4. Change the Way You Eat
If you eat standing up or tend to eat while you’re busy working or scrolling through social media, you’re going to be more prone to digestive issues.
Try to minimize distractions while you eat and focus on eating more slowly. Chew your food 30 times before you swallow it, too. This will help you ensure you’re not forcing large chunks of food through your digestive tract.
5. Reduce Stress
Take steps to minimize stress in your life as well. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night, and try to eliminate unnecessary stressors from your to-do list.
Make an effort to do relaxing activities like meditation and yoga on a regular basis, too.
Regular exercise can be very beneficial for your digestive health.
Light forms of exercise like walking help to move food through the digestive tract in a more efficient way when they’re done after eating a meal.
People who exercise on a regular basis also tend to have less inflammation in their bodies and experience fewer digestive issues like constipation and bloating.
7. Take the Right Supplements
There are also supplements you can use to help improve your digestion.
There are lots of herbs to aid digestion in humans, as well as probiotic and prebiotic supplements that are meant to balance the gut microbiome.
You may also want to supplement with glutamine and zinc.
Glutamine is an amino acid that helps to repair damage to the gut lining. Zinc also promotes gut health and can reduce your risk of developing digestive disorders like colitis and intestinal permeability.
Get More Health Advice Today
If you struggle with gastrointestinal issues on a regular basis and need to improve digestion, these tips can help.
Give one (or more) of these tips a try today and, after sticking with them for a few weeks, you’ll likely start to see some improvements.
Are you looking for more tips that will help you live your best and healthiest life? If so, be sure to visit the Health section of our site.
You’ll find all kinds of helpful articles here on everything from improving your mental health to increasing muscle mass. Check it out today!