Digestive Health: It’s All About Balance
Have you ever thought about how much your digestive system does on a daily basis? It has a huge job!
After you eat, digestion turns your food into fuel for every cell in your body, keeping your organs and systems working. Healthy digestion helps you get the most of this fuel, but there’s more! It can also affect your weight, energy, skin and immune function.
Despite how important the digestive system is to our overall health and well-being, many people don’t take good care of it. Every day, things like poor diet, stress, lack of exercise and other environmental factors can impact the natural microflora – or balance – of the digestive system. This can lead to digestive issues.
Taking care of your digestive health is not that difficult. It all comes down to eating habits and lifestyle choices.
Your digestive system is comprised of tens of trillions of microorganisms. Altogether, this bacterial colony is called the “gut microbiome.” These bacteria keep the growth of other potentially harmful bacteria at bay, thus promoting healthy digestion and maintaining your overall health and well-being. They also help extract nutrients from food and help in the production of certain vitamins.
One way to support your digestive system is with probiotics. These beneficial bacteria are naturally found in your body, mainly in the gastrointestinal tract. While the idea of eating bacteria may not sound appealing or appetizing, introducing good bacteria into your system directly in the form of probiotics can help balance the composition of bacteria in your gut. Probiotics can be found in fermented foods, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi and miso, as well as supplements.
Your Daily Dose of Balance
Fiber plays a key role in digestive health, yet the average American falls far short of the daily fiber recommendation of 28 grams. Most people only eat about 14 grams a day, which means they may be missing out on the health benefits. A proper and balanced intake of the right kinds of fiber can help your digestive system with its most important tasks.
Soluble fiber is found in foods like apples, oats, barley and beans. It thickens and swells when it comes in contact with water and helps fill you up. Soluble fiber also functions as a prebiotic and encourages the growth of good bacteria by acting as a food source.
Insoluble fiber, also known as “roughage,” can be found in whole-grain foods, bran and certain types of vegetables. It keeps digested food moving through your digestive tract and promotes regularity.
Since your body needs both types of fiber, it’s best to eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. Aim to have a fruit or vegetable with every meal or snack.
Proper hydration affects all of our body functions, and it has a big role in every step of our digestion, including the breakdown and absorption of nutrients, delivering them to all of our body's cells and helping us eliminate waste products.
Most people need between 8 and 12 cups of water a day. This can include plain water and water in beverages such as Herbal Aloe, coffee, tea, mineral water, fruit or vegetable juice, broth and milk. Herbal Aloe is also a great option for soothing your hardworking stomach!
Exercise and Stress Reduction
Exercise isn’t just for the muscles, it’s also good for your digestive tract. As your muscles contract and your breath deepens during activity, the natural contractions of your intestinal muscles are stimulated, too, which helps to move food through your system.
Exercise is also a great stress reducer, which makes it good for those whose digestive systems act up when they get stressed out.