Your stomach is one of the most important organs in your body, since it plays a crucial role in the digestion of food. Keeping your stomach healthy not only prevents abdominal pain, but also works to keep your entire body in good working order. If you're concerned about the health of your stomach, talk to your doctor to rule out a medical condition.
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Eat Enough but Not Too Much
You know you've eaten more than your fill when you have that uncomfortable ache in your belly that you can only relieve by unbuttoning your pants. In addition to the discomfort, eating too much is bad for your stomach. Consuming large portions of food at one time puts strain on the lower esophageal sphincter, which separates the stomach from your esophagus, allowing the acidic contents of the stomach to back up into your esophagus and cause heartburn. Overeating may also cause you to eat more calories than you need, which leads to weight gain.
To keep your stomach healthy, prevent the burning sensation and limit excess calorie intake, try to keep portions in check. Use smaller plates and bowls, wait 20 minutes before you go back for seconds and don't skip meals. Skipping meals may lead to intense hunger, causing you to eat more than your stomach can handle.
Fill Your Stomach With Fiber to Keep It Healthy
Fiber, a non-digestible carbohydrate, is not only good for your stomach, but your entire digestive system. In your stomach, fiber absorbs water to help slow things down -- keeping you full longer, which may aid in weight control. Fiber also adds bulk to stool, which aids in elimination of waste and helps prevent constipation.
Eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds can help you get the fiber you need to keep your stomach healthy. Men need 30 to 38 grams a day, and women 21 to 25 grams. Most Americans have a tough time getting enough, according to the International Food Information Council Foundation. When upping your intake to improve health, add fiber gradually and drink plenty of fluid. This helps prevent abdominal discomfort and keeps your stool soft to make it easier to pass.
Eat More Lean Unprocessed Meats
High intakes of processed meats such as deli turkey, bacon and sausage may increase your risk of stomach cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Although researchers need to confirm the cause with more studies, it;s been theorized that stomach cancer risk may be caused heme-iron, which is a type of iron found in meat. Other possible causes include salt, nitrate and nitrite compounds, and heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are created from high cooking temperatures, according to a 2013 meta-analysis published in PLoS One. Red meat, beef and pork are also linked to colon cancer, so you also want to limit your intake to help keep your entire digestive system in good working order.
Limiting your intake of these foods and replacing them with healthier options may help keep your stomach healthy and reduce your risk of cancer. So instead of a salami sandwich, slice up some grilled chicken to use as your lunch meat. Fresh seafood and turkey also make good alternatives to processed meat. You can get protein from beans, soy food and dairy products such as milk and yogurt.
Stress is a major contributor to a number of illnesses that affect your stomach, including GERD and stomach ulcers. Finding ways to manage your stress may help improve how your stomach feels. Any form of physical activity, from a walk through the park to an intense spin class, can help you manage stress. To get the most benefit and stress reduction, aim for 30 minutes of regular activity a day, according to Helpguide.org. Finding outlets for your angst can also help, such as writing in a journal or talking to a counselor. Eating a healthy diet also works to manage stress by providing your body with the nutrients it needs to fight back.
- NHS Choices: Five Lifestyle Tips for a Healthy Tummy
- McKinley Health Center: GERD Diet
- Cornell University: Fiber, Digestion and Health
- International Food Information Council Foundation: Foods for Health: Eating for Digestive Health
- American Cancer Society: Diet and Activity Factors that Affect Risks for Certain Cancers
- Gut: The Neurobiology of Stress and Gastrointestinal Disease
- Helpguide.org: Stress Management
- PLoSOne: Red and Processed Meat Intake Is Associated with Higher Gastric Cancer Risk: A Meta-Analysis of Epidemiological Observational Studies