How to Improve Your Digestive Health
Today’s question is: how can we give our digestive system a helping hand and improve our overall digestive health?
The digestive system is the focal point for our food, as it helps us absorb nutrients and enjoy good physical and mental health. It’s made up of a set of organs that, through the secretion of substances such as enzymes, gastric juices, among others, breaks down the food into smaller particles.
Did you know that an alteration in any of the digestive phases can cause discomfort or even a nutritional deficit? We’re now going to tell you how you can improve your digestive health by eating correctly.
Do you have good digestive health?
In some countries, up to 50% of the population suffers from some type of digestive disorder, and it’s on the rise. Most are related to the intestine, as this is where we find the bacteria responsible for carrying out digestion.
Foods that haven’t been properly digested in the stomach are fermented by microbial bacteria, giving rise to symptoms as diverse as:
- Abdominal swelling
- Gases and belching
- Reflux and acidity
- Food intolerances
- Nausea and vomiting
- Diarrhea or constipation
These can also be accompanied by itchy skin, headache, mood disorder, tiredness, weight loss due to lack of appetite, or weight gain.
Factors that alter digestive health
There are many different causes, but the most frequent ones are:
- Frequent use of anti-inflammatory and antacid drugs
- A bad diet
- Physical inactivity
As a consequence, the quality and quantity of intestinal bacteria, and the secretion of hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes decrease. Even inflammatory and metabolic markers in our blood are altered. Therefore, by addressing the main cause, we can improve these symptoms.
The microbiota: the therapeutic target of digestive health
The microbiota is a set of microorganisms (viruses, bacteria and fungi) that lives mostly in the large intestine. These microorganisms are responsible for synthesizing nutrients such as vitamin K, stimulating the immune system and protecting us against infections. In addition, they influence our behavior, mood, weight, and the development of diabetes, etc.
Generally, there is usually a balance in the number and type of microorganisms that tends to be altered by the increased permeability of the intestinal wall, which, in turn, prevents the passage of toxins. How can it be restored? By eating healthily!
A practical guide to improving digestive health by eating correctly
When talking about probiotics, we’re referring to the microorganisms that live in our intestines. Taking them is the first step in being able to repopulate it and improve its functioning.
Although they’re sold in either tablet or powder form, there are also some food products that have undergone a fermentation process by adding probiotics to them.
Their great advantage is that they’re immune to stomach digestion, and they get to the intestine totally intact. So, where can you find probiotics?
- In natural yogurt
- In kefir – this is similar to yogurt and can come from cow or goat milk, or even coconut water
- Kombucha (tea)
- Sauerkraut (cabbage)
- Miso (soybean paste used to make soups)
Once you’ve restored the functioning of your intestines and the symptoms have improved, it’s the ideal time for you to start taking prebiotics in your diet. If not, then you’ll continue to experience bloating, heaviness, and gas.
A prebiotic is the nutrient that probiotics feed on, and are the following: fermentable fibers, polyphenols (natural antioxidants) and healthy fats. Let’s look at them one by one.
These are found in fruits, vegetables, cereals, tubers, legumes and seeds. We especially recommend:
- Cooked banana, carrot, and apple
- Leek, fennel, onion, asparagus and artichokes
- Oatmeal, which also helps reduce cholesterol
- Cooked and cooled brown rice which you can reheat at a low temperature before consuming
- Cooked and cooled potato and sweet potatoes. In this way, we release the starch.
- Well-cooked legumes
- Flax and chia seeds. Ideally, crush them or soak them.
- As we mentioned earlier, these are antioxidants that are present in red fruits, pure cocoa, and spices. But what about chocolate? Well, we would recommend it if the percentage of cocoa is at least 70%. Remember that dark isn’t synonymous with cocoa-rich.
- This is the Omega 3 present in blue fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, etc.) and nuts. It’s also present in extra virgin olive oil and avocado. They have an anti-inflammatory effect and are the main component of cell membranes. That’s why you should consume them daily.
So, this is how you can improve your digestive health with the correct foods. Have you seen how easy it is?
However, you also have the option of going to a healthcare professional to assess your situation and advise you if you prefer.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Guyton y Hall. (2016). Tratado de fisiología médica. 13 ed. Elsevier.
- www.saludigestivo.es. (n.d.). Casi la mitad de los españoles padece alguna patología digestiva. [Internet]. Fundación Española del Aparato Digestivo. [Consultado 6 de agosto de 2019] Disponible en: https://www.saludigestivo.es/espanoles-padecen-patologia-digestiva/
- Cañellas, X y Sanchís, J. (2017). Niños sanos, adultos sanos: la salud empieza a programarse en el embarazo. 3ªed. España: plataforma actual.
- Cañellas, X; Sanchís, J; Aguado, X y Redondo, L. (2017). Alimentación prebiótica: para una microbiota intestinal sana. 1ªed. España: plataforma actual.
- Mosley, M. (2017). La dieta para el intestino inteligente: cómo cambiar su cuerpo de dentro hacia fuera. Barcelona: Omega.