You do not have to live with indigestion and the problems it creates such as constipation, heartburn, stomach pain, diarrhea, and nausea. A healthy person can usually overcome these problems by ease, simple ways. Unfortunately, many people accept indigestion as a fact of life and are bothered by how to improve digestion. Unluckily, many of them reach for an over the counter antacid, a constipation cure, or a diarrhea pill. These people seldom get better and often get worse because they are treating the symptoms rather than the real problem: indigestion.
The good news is that most people can overcome indigestion.A few simple diet and lifestyle changes are the answers to how to improve digestion. By following the steps below, you should be able to throw the pills away and enjoy a far better quality of life.
How to Improve Digestion
1. Get Your Stress Under Control
The first step to solve how to improve digestion is control your stress. Stress can interfere with digestion bycausing muscle spasms and raising blood pressure and blood sugar level. Try to avoid eating when you are stressed so as to prevent indigestion. Try to avoid eating at your work area or even snacking. Take steps to reduce your stress, such as getting plenty of sleep, meditating, relaxing and napping every day. Sometimes even taking a vacation or a day off can greatly reduce your stress.
2. Get Lots of Exercises
Regular exercise can enhance your digestive system’s performance by improving blood flow, increasing organ functions and boosting your metabolism. Exercise can also help eliminate bloating by speeding up the movement of gas and simulate the intestines for better food digestion. A healthy adult should get at least 20-minutes exercise a day. Even low intensity activities such as walking and yoga can improve digestion.
3. Drink Sufficient Water
Water is vital for the proper functioning of the digestive system, yet the average person today does not drink enough of it. Water can increase the blood flow, help in breaking down foods and absorbing minerals and speed up digestion. Besides, stomach acid is produced with water.
A healthy adult should be drinking 8 cups of water a day. Try to drink a glass of water before each meal and keep a supply of water, such as a water bottle, handy. Instead of soda pop, buy bottled water or take a water bottle with you.
4. Eat Several Small Meals a Day
The way most people eat three large meals a day can cause indigestion because it is not natural. Many people eat in a rush and eat too much, which makes things worse. It also encourages snacking and overeating because many people get hungry between meals. The digestive system simply gets overwhelmed by all that food. It's better to eat every two or three hours instead of eating three meals. When you do this, just have one or two dishes for each meal.
5. Eat Slowly and Chew Thoroughly
Your mother was right about eating too fast: it can lead to indigestion because the pieces of food you consume are simply too large for digestive enzymes to digest. Cut food into smaller chunksand try to chew every piece of food for 20 to 30 seconds.
Avoid eating on the run and eating at your desk or in the car. Instead, take time out to sit down for every meal. Try consuming lots of easy to digest foodssuch as soupsand limit meat consumption to speed up digestion.
6. Eat Fiber-Rich Foods
Most people today do not get enough fiber in their diet. A lack of fiber leads to indigestion because fiber is necessary for intestine functions and bowel movements. Fiber is what pushes food through the digestive system; without it, food sits there and takes longer to digest.
A good rule of thumb is to eat at least one high fiber food every meal. Some great high fiber foods include cereal, whole grain bread, beans, oatmeal, and fresh fruit or vegetable such as kale and spinach.
7. Add Probiotics into Your Diet
Your digestive tract depends upon good bacteria or probiotics to function properly. These bacteria control bad bacteria that cause infections and indigestion. Unfortunately, many people have low levels of these bacteria because of stress, chlorinated water, antibiotics and other factors.
You can increase the level of probiotics by taking a probiotic supplement that contains Acidophilus, Bifidobacteria or Lactobacillus. You can also get some probiotics from fermented foods such as yogurt, cheese, and even pickles.
8. Take Your Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin C can improve your digestion by reducing inflammation, eliminating toxins and fighting infection.Zinc is a natural antibiotic that fights infections. Adding foods rich in these nutrients or taking a regular supplement everyday can enhance your digestion.
Flaxseed or olive oil and enzymes like lipase, protease, and amylase can also improve your digestion if you add them to your meals. Natural supplements like peppermint oil and ginger can control or eliminate infections, which often cause indigestion.
9. Avoid Irritants and Stodgy Foods
There are some bad habits that can lead to indigestion or make it worse. Changing your lifestyles to eliminate the following habits can improve your digestion.
- Stop smoking and drinking alcohol: Tobacco smoke irritates the digestive tract and causes indigestion. Too much alcohol damages the digestive tract by dehydrating it and killing good bacteria.
- Avoid processed foods: Processed foods are high in sugar and fat which are hard to digest and low in fiber which is essential for digestion.
- Drink less coffee and soda pop: Coffee is acidic and contains caffeine and soda pop is loaded with sugar, chemicals and caffeine. All of them interfere in digestion.Eliminating these beverages or limiting their intake to one or two cups a day can greatly improve digestion.