Stomach pain and frequent trips to the bathroom can really wreak havoc on your day. Diet, stress, medication or illness affects digestion and may lead to a weak digestive system. Taking steps to change your eating habits may help improve digestion and your overall sense of well-being. Consult your doctor if experiencing chronic digestive problems.
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Modify Your Eating Habits
Making changes to the way you eat may improve digestion. The Pacific College of Oriental Medicine says not to skip meals and eat frequent small meals throughout the day to aid digestion. Eating while sitting without distractions and chewing food thoroughly may also help. Most importantly, you want to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet for overall good health. A balanced diet includes a variety of foods from all the food groups -- fruits, vegetables, grains, lean protein and dairy -- in the right amounts to help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
Probiotics are gut-friendly microorganisms found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, miso and tempeh. These friendly bacteria are most often used to promote digestive health, says the American Gastroenterological Association. Probiotics are used to regulate bowel movements in people with irritable bowel syndrome, a disorder of the digestive system that causes diarrhea, constipation or both. Probiotics may also serve as an effective treatment in preventing diarrhea caused by antibiotics and rotovirus, which causes diarrhea in babies and children.
Get Enough Fiber
Making sure you get enough fiber in your diet, especially from fruits and vegetables, may improve weak digestion, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Adequate fiber intake improves digestive health by alleviating constipation. Women should aim for 21 to 25 grams of fiber a day and men 30 to 38 grams. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that eating 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables every day can help you reach your daily fiber goals. The academy also recommends that you add whole grains such as whole-wheat bread and oatmeal as well as beans to your daily diet to up your fiber intake.
Sample Menu for Better Digestion
Everyone responds to food differently, and you may have to go through trial-and-error to find the right combination of healthy foods that improve digestion for you, advises the Cleveland Clinic. A healthy breakfast for better digestion might include a bowl of oatmeal topped with strawberries and served with a container of low-fat yogurt. Midmorning, you might try some grapes with whole-grain crackers. At lunch, mixed greens topped with albacore tuna, kidney beans, walnuts and raisins with low-fat dressing and a bowl of miso soup with a whole-grain roll might make a good choice. A midafternoon snack to help weak digestion might include sliced cucumbers, peppers and carrots with hummus. A healthy dinner option might consist of pasta primavera made with whole-wheat penne, steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, diced chicken and tomato sauce.
- Pacific College of Oriental Medicine: Traditional Chinese Medicine Symptoms of Poor Digestion
- Cleveland Clinic: Healthy Eating for the Digestive System
- NHS Choices: Five Lifestyle Tips for a Healthy Tummy
- NHS Choices: A Balanced Diet
- American Gastroenterological Association: Probiotics: What They Are and What They Can Do for You
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Prebiotics and Probiotics: The Dynamic Duo
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Fiber