How to Improve Digestion and Gut Health

This is a guest post by Lisa Jones.

The digestive system is one of the most important systems in the human body. It is responsible for breaking down ingested food into nutrients in order for the body to use these nutrients for energy, cell repair, and growth. Good digestion and gut health are linked to increased physical and mental energy levels, lower risk of depression, and a stabilized nervous system.

Your digestion is an important indicator of overall health – and a weak digestion system often leads to a myriad of health problems. So when it comes to health, maintaining a healthy gut and digestive system is of paramount importance!

Importance of Good Digestion

Good digestion is a requisite to being healthy. It really all starts in the gut.

Firstly, digestion is important because it provides us with the nutrients to sustain life. It also helps in boosting energy levels and increasing cognitive functions of the brain. Moreover, good digestion helps in flushing out toxins from the body.

Physically speaking, good digestion will help in growth development and will result in stronger bones and muscles in the long run. Any cellular damage in your body will also repair itself if your digestion is good.

Functions of Gut Bacteria

Adequate amounts of good gut bacteria are essential to gut health. Note that “bacteria” here does not refer to the infection-causing bad bacteria, but rather “good” bacteria – the kind found in yogurt and cultured milk. In fact, the number of healthy gut microbes is 10 times the number of human cells in the body!

To sustain healthy gut bacteria, you must avoid sugar and processed foods in your diet at all costs. All these will do is destroy healthy gut bacteria population, resulting in psychological and physiological damage.

Gut bacteria drives many important functions in the body, including:

  • Digestion of fiber-rich foods
  • Breakdown of fats
  • Metabolizing of stomach acid
  • Absorption of essential nutrients
  • Healthy immune system functioning

Moreover, your gut health can tell you a lot about your brain. The vagus nerve enables a two-way connection between the brain and the gut, so anomalies in one organ will reflect in the other as well.

In simple terms, the brain-gut connection allows your gut to control your brain, and vice-versa. Gut bacteria helps in controlling mental stress. Similarly, if you are stressed, your digestion and gut health will suffer too! So you need to make sure both ends of the cycle loop are in check. That is, make sure to maintain adequate amounts of good gut bacteria and avoid taking too much stress.

Foods to Improve Digestion

As far as nutrition intake are concerned, you want to stick to the H.O.P.E formula pioneered by Brenda Watson. H.O.P.E refers to High Fiber, Omega-3 Oils, Probiotics, and Enzymes, so your diet needs to contain these elements for improved digestion.

Moreover, your intake should contain good fats and be devoid of unnecessary bad fats. The table below shows the foods you should be eating for good fats and those you should avoid.

Examples of Good FatsExamples of Bad Fats
Nuts
Junk food
FishSugary treats
AvocadoOily and deep-fried foods
FlaxseedReady-to-eat food
Olive OilPork fat

Fiber-rich foods such as whole-grains, green-leafy vegetables, oats, and legumes are great for digestion. These absorb water and add bulk to your stools. They keep the gut bacteria healthy too!

Yogurt and fermented food contain healthy probiotics or good bacteria such as Lactobacillus. They protect you from several digestive disorders and other bodily infections.

Tips for Good Digestion and Gut Health

  • Don’t eat in a haste. Chew your food properly. This allows food to mix properly with saliva that aids better digestion.
  • Exercising keeps your metabolism high and helps in regulating your bowel movements.
  • Follow a strict schedule for eating that is in line with your body’s circadian rhythm.
  • Detox your body at regular intervals as it helps in restoring gut bacteria culture & smoother digestion.
  • Drink lots of water and always stay hydrated.
  • Avoid smoking, drinking, vaping, or taking drugs.

Summary

If you were too lazy to read, the article is summarized in this neat infographic below:

How to Improve Digestion and Gut Health
Infographic source: Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion by FactDr
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