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Improving Your Digestive System

Updated: May 13

Gut Health and Wellness: How To Improve Your Digestive System

Your digestive system is a core component of physical and mental well-being, so it is vital to maintain it and keep it as healthy as possible.

Your gut communicates with your brain, influencing various hormonal and chemical responses. You likely feel good and well-balanced when the gut is in good health.

You may feel irritable, anxious, and uncomfortable if the gut is out of whack. Overall wellness can therefore start by taking care of your digestive tract.


11 Ways To Improve Your Digestive System

While you cannot control everything that happens to your body, you can control various physical and mental stimuli that influence the performance of the digestive tract.

Diet and lifestyle play a crucial role in digestive health and making the right decisions can affect the gut's effectiveness and overall well-being.

Everyone can try these 11 changes to contribute to digestive health.

1. Consume Fewer Processed Foods

The typical Western diet contains excessive processed foods containing high saturated fats, refined carbs, and additives like salt, glucose, and other chemicals.

Studies show that processed foods cause an increased risk of digestion disorders.

Consuming diets rich in whole foods — minimally processed foods, rich in nutrients, and full of health benefits — benefits gut and digestive health.

Eliminating overly processed foods or cutting back can reduce health risks and improve gut health.

2. Incorporate Dietary Supplements

Dietary supplements can help fill gaps in your digestive system and support gut health.

Some options include a probiotic complex or enzymes. You may also look for amino acid or zinc supplements.

Probiotics are healthy bacteria that assist the body in breaking down indigestible fibers.

Glutamine, an amino acid, may reduce intestinal inflammation, and zinc is known for relieving several digestive issues, including diarrhea and colitis.

3. Eat More Fiber

Soluble and insoluble fiber is good for digestion.

Soluble fiber — found in legumes, oats, whole grains, nuts, and seeds — absorbs water and adds bulk to stools.

Insoluble fiber — found in fruits and vegetables — acts as a scrub brush, helping move everything in the digestive tract.

Women between 19 and 50 need a minimum of 25 grams of fiber daily.

Men in the same age range need 38 grams.

A high-fiber diet may reduce the risks of several digestive problems, including constipation.

4. Add Healthy Fats

Nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, meaning the body needs healthy fats to digest them.

Omega-3 fatty acids are among the most beneficial fats and can reduce the risks of inflammatory bowel disorders. You can find omega-3s in:


  • Fatty fish (tuna, salmon, sardines, and mackerel)

  • Walnuts

  • Flaxseeds

  • Chia seeds

5. Practice Mindful Eating

Mindful eating refers to the practice of focused eating.

By focusing on your food and the process of eating, you can help your digestive system.

The evidence suggests that mindfulness can relieve digestive symptoms. The basic steps of mindful eating include:

  • Eating slowly

  • Limiting distractions

  • Acknowledging food attributes (taste, temperature, texture, etc.)

6. Stay Hydrated

Constipation is a common digestion issue, especially when dehydrated.

Water is the best way to meet your daily fluid requirements, but remember that everyone's requirements differ slightly.

The recommendation of 64 oz of water daily is the bare minimum.

Water is not the only thing that contributes to your fluid intake. The food you eat contributes to your fluids, as do herbal teas and other non-caffeinated beverages.

7. Manage Stress

Stress adversely affects not only your mental health but also your digestive system.

Several studies suggest stress may link to stomach ulcers, constipation, diarrhea, and IBS.

Stress causes hormone levels to increase and forces the brain into a fight-or-flight state.

The body responds to this heightened state by diverting energy and blood from the digestive tract into other vital organs and tissues.

Learning to control stress can help with digestion.

Stress management, relaxation training, and meditation promise to improve certain digestive conditions' symptoms.

8. Chew Thoroughly

Chewing is a necessary part of digestion.

Too many people take big bites and barely chew their food before gulping it into the stomach.

The problem with poor chewing is you don't receive all the nutrients, and you force your stomach to work harder to liquify your meal.

Aim to chew each bite between 30 and 40 times.

9. Engage in Fitness Activities

Routine exercise is one of the best ways to improve your digestive system.

Physical activity and gravity help move food through the digestive tract; however, duration and intensity matter.

Intense and more prolonged sessions of training may slow the digestive system down, whereas brief sessions of low- to moderate-intensity workouts speed things up.

10. Slow Down Your Meals

In this busy world, it is normal to rush through meals, but did you know it can take your brain 20 minutes to realize the stomach is full?

Most people can finish an entire meal in 20 minutes or less, so they may overindulge.

Slowing your meals is an excellent way to reduce digestive upset and improve digestion. It also allows you to learn your body's hunger and fullness cues.

11. Make Positive Lifestyle Changes

People may understand that some habits, like smoking and alcohol consumption, are bad for their health.

However, they may not realize these lifestyle decisions can also affect their gastrointestinal health.

Smoking can cause GERD and acid reflux.

Alcohol consumption can lead to heartburn, IBS, and changes in the gut microbiome.

Also, eating late can cause indigestion and heartburn. Making lifestyle changes is one of the most powerful things you can do to improve digestive health.

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