For some of us, digestive discomfort is fact of life. But heartburn, acid reflux, indigestion, constipation, abdominal pain, and other issues aren't inevitable. A few simple strategies can help improve your digestive health and keep things running smoothly.
1. Get plenty of fiber. Most of us only get 10 to 15 grams of fiber per day, which is about half the recommended intake. Fiber keeps food moving through the digestive system and is critical for healthy digestion. Eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains every day. Apples, berries, pears, peas, broccoli, oatmeal, and brown rice are excellent choices.
2. Stay hydrated. When you consume water with insoluble fiber, it helps soften stool to prevent constipation. Don't worry about water diluting your digestive juices or interfering with digestion -- according to the Mayo Clinic, water and other liquids help break down food so your body can absorb nutrients, which actually aids digestion.
3. Supplement with digestive enzymes. Enzymes break food down into nutrients, which the body uses for energy, growth, and repair. The body produces digestive enzymes, but production can't keep up with a diet full of overly processed and fatty foods (food that tend to give us indigestion). Enzyme production also decreases as we age. A digestive enzyme supplement may help relieve indigestion and reduce minor discomfort and bloating.
4. Find ways to manage stress. Recent research has uncovered a complex connection between the brain and the digestive system, and experts believe that stress plays a major role in a wide range of digestive issues, including IBS, indigestion, and heartburn. Find stress-reducing activities that you enjoy and practice them regularly.
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