Gastrointestinal Health

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Gastrointestinal illnesses have become incredibly common today. In fact, 1 in every four individuals in the US suffers from gastrointestinal problems that adversely influence their quality of life to a sizable degree. Sufferers quietly persevere through their difficulty because gastrointestinal upsets does not quite seem like a polite subject for conversation.

The gastrointestinal tract starts with our buccal cavity or the mouth and ends at the anus. All the food that we consume goes through the tract and undergoes mechanical and chemical degradation until it passes through the intestines where essential nutrients are absorbed. Improper function of the gastrointestinal tract can lead to disorders. Additionally, physical damages and inflammation anywhere along the gastrointestinal tract can also lead to gastrointestinal diseases.

Our overall health relies heavily on the efficient working of our digestive system, and with a few tweaks, we can significantly cut down the gradual damage we might be inflicting on our continuously working digestive system. Let’s go through some of them:

1.     Eat lots of fiber

Fiber does a lot more than facilitating peristalsis in the intestines and keeps the food moving through the gastrointestinal tract. Aside from preventing constipation, fiber also plays an important role in preventing digestive issues such as hemorrhoids or irritable bowel syndrome. Furthermore, it also regulates the blood sugar level and promotes cardiovascular health. Fiber can also reduce cholesterol absorption in the intestines. It is recommended to eat about 14 grams of fiber for every 1000 calories eaten. Whole grain foods, peas, legumes, vegetables and fruits are great sources of fiber.

2.     Stay away from excessive fats

A healthy diet consists of an adequate amount of fats. There is no reason to eliminate fats from your diet completely. However, eating foods rich in fats retards digestion and also slows absorption. A healthy diet couples fat with sufficient fiber intake. Fiber can counter the slowed digestion from fats. Also, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids are a lot better for your digestive system than saturated fats. Studies have even inferred that a diet consisting of low fiber and high fats can increase the risk of developing some cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and obesity.

3.     Don’t forget to drink water

A high fiber diet alone is not going to cut it. Fiber works in conjunction with water to ensure the food keeps moving seamlessly. Fiber absorbs water to create bulkier stool that can move through the digestive tract a lot better. How much water you should drink typically depends on the age, weather, weight and other similar factors, but it is important to drink a glass or two with every meal. You can get your water from fluid rich foods too. As a general rule of thumb, you should drink 8 glasses of water every day.

4.     Don’t live a sedentary lifestyle

Incorporating exercise into your everyday routine brings about improvement in digestion. Gastroenterologists recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Exercising strengthens your digestive system. When you don’t get enough exercise or burn enough energy, your body slows digestion because you don’t need that energy.

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