10 Tips for Better Digestive Health

Have you ever suffered from bloating, cramping, gas, constipation, heartburn, nausea or diarrhea after a meal? Have your symptoms gotten so bad that you’ve cancelled plans with friends, called in sick to work, or had problems falling asleep at night? Poor digestive health can upset your stomach and your routine. The American Gastroenterological Association’s (AGA) Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition recently reported that 7 out of 10 Americans experienced digestive health issues in 2017. Nearly half of Americans polled say these painful symptoms affect their daily lives. To help you improve your digestive health and reduce uncomfortable symptoms, the World Gastroenterology Organization (WGO) compiled this list of guidelines:

  • Eat small, frequent meals. For your best digestive health, the AGA and top nutrition associations around the world recommend eating four or five small meals a day. Your overall calories should stay about the same.
  • Include foods rich in fiber. Fiber is important to your digestive system, and you can find it in fruits, raw vegetables, nuts, beans and whole grain breads and cereals.
  • Eat fish three to five times per week. Fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve digestive problems by stabilizing cell walls, reducing inflammation and restoring balance.
  • Reduce your intake of fried, fattening foods. Cutting back on greasy, fried foods that are high in fat and hard to digest reduces your stomach’s workload.
  • Incorporate fermented dairy products into your diet. Certain probiotics (the “good bacteria” that’s found in dairy products like yogurt and cottage cheese) may improve intestinal function and overall digestive health. Probiotics can help prevent or ease conditions like gastroenteritis, irregularity, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Select lean meats. Leaner cuts of meat—pork, chicken and turkey—contain less fat, which may improve digestive comfort.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Liquids help alleviate and prevent constipation, and they ease the digestive process. A good way to make sure you’re getting enough fluids is to drink a glass of water with every meal.
  • Don’t rush eating. Overeating can upset your stomach and digestive tract. Eating slowly and chewing food properly encourages a “full” feeling, before trouble starts.
  • Exercise regularly. Don’t smoke. While most people know that exercise offers overall health benefits, most people don’t know that it’s good for your digestive tract, too. Daily physical activity improves the natural rhythm of the digestive system and assists in moving food through the digestive tract.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight. According to the AGA, a body mass index that indicates obesity or unintentional weight loss may  be detrimental to your digestive health.