8 Tips for Optimal Digestive Health
Living with gastrointestinal issues is a challenge. Your symptoms you are experiencing such as gas, bloating, cramps, diarrhea, and fatigue can sap your energy and cause you to feel irritable or depressed. Because these symptoms can disrupt your day-to-day functioning, it is important to take care of your digestive health.
The digestive system has a lot on its plate. It is in charge of breaking foods down to a nutrient level, orchestrating nutrient absorption into the blood via intestinal walls, and monitoring the balance between helpful and harmful bacteria. It also breaks down or neutralizes ingested toxins. When something goes awry in the GI system, the unpleasant symptoms listed above begin. Left untreated, it can lead to serious digestive disorders.
One of the more common GI ailments is leaky gut syndrome. It is caused by a poor diet and eating habits, chronic stress, toxin overload, and bacterial imbalance. When this occurs, the lining of the intestines becomes inflamed and loses some of its ability to keep intestinal material where it belongs. Small holes develop in the lining of the intestinal walls, allowing the release of undigested food, bacteria, and toxins into the bloodstream. This “leaked” material is seen as a foreign invader, resulting in the creation of antibodies for protection. At times, these antibodies mistakenly attack tissues and organs, which can result in a general feeling of ill health and/or an autoimmune disorder.
The good news is that there are lots of things you can do to maintain and improve the efficiency and health of your digestive system. Here are eight things to try:
- Eat a diet high in fiber. Fiber helps promote digestion and eases the passage of waste through the system.
- Eat a wide variety of fresh vegetables and fruits. Foods closest to their natural state have the highest nutrient value and require the least amount of digestion.
- Avoid processed foods, items high in fat, and processed sugar. These take longer to digest and can end up fermenting in your gut before they are fully digested and passed.
- Eat slowly and chew thoroughly. This allows the digestive process to begin as you chew, and does not rush your system.
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity keeps your digestive system working smoothly by stimulating contraction of intestinal muscles.
- Try using natural herbs and supplements, such as dandelion root, chamomile, and licorice root teas, as well as the amino acid glutamine.
- Limit contact with people and situations that cause you to feel stress or anxiety. Setting healthy boundaries improves both physical and emotional health.
- Talk with your health practitioner about any antibiotics or other medications you take. Make sure you know the impact they may have on your gut health.
Many people with leaky gut syndrome may be surprised to know they have certain food
sensitivities or allergies. This can be addressed during a detox cleanse. You will begin by eliminating some of the most common allergens from your diet. These include gluten, processed sugar, and lactose. After completing the entire detoxification program, you will begin to slowly reintroduce some of the things you eliminated, one item at a time. When you do this, pay attention to how you feel and write down any GI symptoms you experience. Over time, you will come to know which foods cause difficulty for you, and you can work to eliminate these offending foods from your daily nutrition.
You are learning a lot this month, and we are just getting started! Keep up the good work, and let us know if there is anything we can do to support you on your path to wellness.
Do you want more suggestions to help you keep your digestive system happy and healthy? Reach out to Dr. Donahue for a free 15-min discovery call.