If you find yourself gaining weight or struggling to drop pounds, you may need to consider your digestive system. Over 60 million Americans experience digestive disorders including bloating, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea and gas, according to the NJ Nutritionist website. Indigestion increases feelings of stress and discomfort, potentially leading to fatigue, depression, hormonal imbalances, poor nutrient absorption and weight gain. Tackle digestive disorders under a physician's supervision to lose weight and improve your overall health.
Digestion and Weight
Poor digestion may lead to weight gain as a result of your digestive system's inability to properly break down foods. This leads to inadequate nutrient absorption and a reduction in the elimination of wastes and toxins in the body, leading to constipation and bloating. The inability to properly absorb essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals affects the body's metabolism, lowering the rate at which it burns calories and leading to excess body fat as well as fatigue.
Elimination and Weight Gain
The inability to properly eliminate food wastes leads to a buildup of toxins in the body. Toxic buildup intensifies constipation and bloating, leading to fluid retention and puffiness. Eating foods that are high in fat on a regular basis slows down digestive processes, as these foods take longer to break down. Fatty foods also tend to be higher in calories, so eating too many will lead to weight gain. Not all fats are bad for you, however -- you need healthy fats for good brain and heart health. Replace unhealthy trans and saturated fats with healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in avocados, nuts, seeds and olive oil. A study published in "Diabetes Care" in 2009 found that calorie-restricted diets high in monounsaturated fats benefited weight loss and body composition in diabetic subjects.
Fiber and Digestion
Fill your diet with digestive-friendly foods including fiber-rich vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Fiber, the indigestible part of plants, improves digestion by helping to push food waste products and toxins through the body for elimination, which in turn aids in weight loss. Your daily intake of fiber will depend on your individual needs; however, current recommendations for women and men between the ages of 19 and 50 are 25 and 38 grams, respectively. Include vegetables such as sweet potatoes, peas, carrots and corn in your diet, plus fibrous fruits such as dates, pears and apples, as well as whole-grain breads, beans and lentils.
Digestion is also affected by lifestyle habits. Stress and poor exercise habits can slow down digestive processes, leading to fat storage. During periods of chronic stress, the body releases the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to an increase in appetite, digestive distress, altered metabolic rate and weight gain. A lack of physical activity also slows down the rate at which foods are digested, leading to constipation, less calorie burning and weight gain. Reduce stress in your life by making time for friends and family, meditating, doing yoga, and exercising with daily walks or hitting the gym. Exercise not only reduces stress but also improves digestive processes and burns calories.
Is This an Emergency?
- NJ Nutritionist: Improve Digestion and Lose Weight in 5 Easy Steps
- Chatelaine: Seven Hormone Imbalances Hindering Your Weight-Loss Efforts
- Complete Health & Weight Loss: How Can Poor Digestion Cause Weight Gain?
- Fat Digestion and Absorption; Armand B Christophe and Stephanie Devriese, Eds.
- The Dr. Oz Show: 8 Tips to Improve Your Digestive Health
- Cornell University, Gannett Health Services: Fiber, Digestion, and Health
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Constipation
- Diabetes Care: One-Year Comparison of a High-Monounsaturated Fat Diet With a High-Carbohydrate Diet in Type 2 Diabetes
- Best Health: The Foods to Eat for a Healthy Gut