It's something we all do on a daily basis, but something we never think too much about.
Digestion is never on our to-do list, but it's a very important part of who we are, how we stay healthy, and how we keep on keeping on.
We've all suffered days of tummy troubles (remember that time you took pizza night a little too far?), so these tips for healthy digestion are definitely good to keep in the back of your mind before planning a night of gluttony.
1. Avoid fried food and food high in fat.
It seems like a no-brainer, but in practice, it can be so hard to follow. All it takes is one glance at a bucket of fried chicken to set off our cravings. Having just one extra wing will probably make you feel pretty lousy the next day, especially if you live a sedentary lifestyle. These foods can bring on heartburn and acid reflux, making them a veritable nightmare for those who already suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. Moderation is key, so make sure to eat slowly and listen to your stomach instead of your eyes when chowing down.
2. Lay off the booze.
Unlike food, alcohol isn't digested. It makes its way through your body and ends up right in your bloodstream, but that doesn't mean it won't negatively affect the process.
Studies have shown that alcohol might actually have certain benefits to your diet, but overdoing it can lead to a lot of problems — legally, mentally, and within your digestive system. Alcohol has been known to inflame the stomach lining, and can also relax your esophageal sphincter to a level that'll cause heartburn. Constant use of alcohol can cause severe stomach pains, as well as liver problems.
3. Fiber is your friend.
The term "fiber" might remind you of cereals you'd find in your grandmother's house, but fiber is key to a healthy digestive system. Plus, those cereals aren't half bad, especially if you dress them up with fruit, which is great for your system as well!
Speaking of seeds, take note if you're having tummy troubles after eating fruits that contain them, like strawberries. If you've been diagnosed with diverticulitis, they might inflame your intestines. If you've never had a problem with seeds before, you should be in the clear.
4. Water should be your best friend.
It's the most drama-free relationship you'll ever have. Water is excellent for many reasons, and even those who aren't super fond of tap water can find a way to add a bit of flavor towards every glass without a significant calorie increase. Proper fluid intake is absolutely crucial for a healthy digestion, and while the standard recommended intake is 8 glasses of water a day, your individual water needs will depend on your location and daily exercise regimen.
5. Avoid stress as much as you can.
Your daily level of stress can actually influence the way food travels through your digestive system. Digestive muscles don't work as efficiently when the body is under stress, and often slows down the process of breaking down your food.
Ever find yourself feeling sick to your stomach when you're under a lot of pressure? It's because you're not allowing yourself a moment to take a deep breath and remember that everything will be okay. Remind your stomach that you're in control of your workload by going out for a walk, or taking breaks to focus your brain on creative and fun tasks, before it's too late.
Photo credit: Arnaud Dessein via Flickr