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Importance of Good Nutrition for the Digestive System

By Yann, published on 06/09/2018 We Love Prof > Health and Fitness > Nutrition > Benefits of a Healthy Diet for the Digestive System

“Happiness: a good bank account, a good cook, and a good digestion.” -Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach and bloating. Tummy issues are all but too common in today’s world. It is reported that over 86% of British adults have suffered from some form of gastrointestinal problem in the last year.

One of the most common gastrointestinal problems in the UK is indigestion with 53% of the population suffering from it. The reasons for this tummy issue are various but the most popular causes are due to a poor and unhealthy diet, lack of sleep, alcohol consumption and viruses.

Indigestion problems make gastronomy a negative experience for sufferers because they are constantly worried about the amounts of food they will consume and the later effects it may cause.

How sad!

Nevertheless, are you tired of waking up in the middle of the night with indigestion? A healthy lifestyle and diet can reverse problems in the digestive system.

Superprof is here to show that there are delicious food options to choose from that favourably improve any digestive issues. Your digestive system and body will thank you later on!

Understanding Your Digestive System

GI and Digestive System The digestive system goes through many organs to make sure the body gets its needed nutrients. (Source: pixabay)

Before suggesting which foods, nutrients and vitamins are needed to have your digestive run smoothly, it is important to know what your digestive system is made up of and how it works.

What is My Digestive System Composed Of?

The human digestive system is made of various organs such as the liver, pancreas and gallbladder and the GI tract (gastrointestinal). The GI tract is composed of various hollow organs joined together from the start (the mouth) to the finish (the anus). What goes down must come out!

The hollow organs that make up the GI tract are the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine and anus.   

Bacterias from the GI tract and parts of your nervous and circulatory system help digestion run smoothly.

How it Works

Every part of the digestive system moves food and liquid from one part of your digestive system to another. In the process, the food gets broken down into smaller parts, small enough so that the body can absorb and distribute the minerals and nutrients to the right place.

If there are any disturbances or abnormalities in any part of the digestive system, tummy troubles will ensue. The body needs a correct amount of sleep to accurately digest the food you consumed.

Smaller bites of food and healthy diets are just some suggestions that contribute to the digestive system’s well-being.

Alright, so now we understand a little bit more about what is going on inside of our bodies, a question arises: which foods contribute to a more balanced lifestyle and effortless digestion?

Foods that Contribute to Better Digestion

Without a healthy regime, recipes and lifestyle tips many feel lost and unsure where to look to for advice. Also, there is so much health advice on the internet that contradicts itself.

However, one thing is certain: a good digestive health improves your overall well-being and happiness.

Say goodbye to waking up at 3 am looking for that bottle of Tums! 

What foods contribute to healthy digestion?

Fruits and Veggies

Carrots and Apples Consuming the right fruits and veggies that contain fibre can improve your digestive health. (Source: Visual Hunt)

“Eat your fruits and vegetables.” -said every mom, everywhere since the beginning of time! 

Well, your mom was right, eating the right fruits and vegetables that are filled with minerals, vitamins and most importantly fibre enhances your digestive health.

Fibre has many health benefits; it helps us stay regular, prevents constipation and diverticulosis and makes your stomach feel full without adding the extra calories.

Fruits and Vegetables that have Fibre and other important nutrients:

  • Beetroots: a very good source of fibre, potassium and magnesium. They are best consumed raw in a salad or a juice. They are key to restoring a healthy digestive system.
  • Apples: we’ve all heard the saying, “an apple away keeps the doctor away.” This might actually be true since apples are full of essential vitamins and dietary fibre. The antioxidants of apples reduce inflammation in the digestive organs.
  • Avocados: such amazing fruits that can be ingested at all times of the day. Extremely helpful for those who are suffering from stomach inflammation due to digestive problems. Can be eaten in the morning on whole wheat toast with an egg, during lunchtime in a freshly made smoothie or during taco night as a delicious guacamole!
  • Blueberries: as a young lad I used to pick blueberries every summer. Little did I know that they are great sources of fibre and Vitamin C, both very beneficial for the GI tract!
  • Sweet Potatoes: have very high levels of dietary fibre that aids normal bowel movements and the absorption of necessary nutrients. They are better to be eaten with the skin since it has a high nutritious value. Some people enjoy sweet potatoes in curries or just plain with a little salt, pepper and melted butter. Mmmmm!
  • Carrots: not only are they are a great help for healthy eyes but also for a healthy digestive system. Full of fibre and antioxidants.
  • Cucumbers: have very high levels of fibre and water which softens the stool, therefore, preventing constipation and enabling smooth bowel movements. Cucumbers can be devoured every day. Some include these beautiful fresh vegetables in their infused waters with a bit of lemon, others enjoy crunchy and savoury salads. The sky is the limit!
  • Dried Prunes: rich in soluble and insoluble fibre. However, be careful, they act as a natural laxative. They can make you go very quickly!

All of the aforementioned fruits and vegetables are delicious, healthy and easily accessible. The fibre and nutrients in these food items contribute to a very sane digestive system.

In order to take full advantage of the nutrients, these foods should be devoured raw. When cooking or boiling sometimes the nutrients get lost. Therefore, make juices, salads and breakfast parfaits with yoghurt! Is your mouth watering too or is it just me?

Proteins

An adequate amount of protein needs to be consumed in a balanced diet, especially to have healthy digestion.

In today’s world, we get our protein from 2 main sources: animal foods (poultry, beef and fish) and plant-based foods (soy and different beans).

It is highly recommended to get the majority of your protein from non-animal based products. 

We are not dissing meat or promoting a vegetarian diet because animal-based food products are great sources of minerals and vitamins but they are also full of saturated fats and can increase cholesterol levels. Things that a healthy person does not want!

Chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, white beans, nuts (walnuts, almonds and cashews) and soy products such as tofu have healthy fats without the cholesterol. Implement them in your diet and you will see that healthy and moderate amounts of these proteins will result in regular bowel movements and a healthy digestive system.

Yoghurt is a great source of healthy protein that helps digestion too. It provides the gut with good bacteria that helps in digesting food. Recommended for starting the day, or after a big meal like lunch or dinner to help things go down smoothly. No more awkward flatulence sounds in public for you!

Foods To Avoid

So hot and so good Adding a little spice to your food can improve its flavour but can result in digestive and stomach issues. (Source: Visual Hunt)

Wondering why you are constantly coping with digestive problems? The answer is quite simple: you are most likely not watching your diet and consuming foods on a regular basis that may harm the digestive system and process.

Some of these harmful foods include:

  • Spicy Foods: that bottle of sriracha that you love so much may be irritating your digestive organs and result in discomfort while passing stool.
  • Fried Foods: crisps, chicken fingers, fish and chips are all incredibly delicious but injurious to the digestive system. They can slow down stomach emptying and leave you constipated and bloated.
  • Processed Foods: are your digestive tract’s worst nightmare! They lack fibre and contain too many added sugars. Without fibre, your digestive system has to work extremely hard making you tired during the whole day.
  • Caffeine: stimulates bowel movements making you go very fast. This can result in painful diarrhoea and stomach aches. Your digestive system needs to work in a natural and healthy way, coffee or energy drinks prevent it from doing that.
  • Dairy: while yoghurt is one of the best proteins for your digestion, milk, cheese and butter can be detrimental if you are already suffering from digestion issues. Those who are lactose intolerant should completely avoid dairy!

If you listen to this advice, you will avoid unwanted stomach issues and extended periods in the bathroom!

Eat Consciously

Are you a health-conscious person eating healthy and consuming the correct nutrients yet still suffer from digestive problems?

Sometimes it may not only be what you eat but how you eat it. 

Here are some suggestions:

  • Eat until you are satisfied but not completely stuffed. If you eat in excess it can cause digestive issues such as heartburn and upset stomach.
  • When eating snacks, choose healthy options such as apples, nuts, or dried fruits like prunes. Do not buy crisps or chocolate!
  • Focus on your meal when you are eating. Do not get up from the table and start walking or dancing around. Your body will be confused.
  • Avoid eating just before you head off to bed. Especially things that you should avoid eating like fried or oily foods (potato chips or crisps) milk and cookies and spicy jalapeno bombers (jalapenos wrapped with bacon and stuffed with cheese, sounds delicious but it is completely injurious before bedtime).

A healthful lifestyle begins with a mindful diet and healthy habits. You only get one body and one digestive system, take care of it well!

Drink Plenty of Liquids

Water is life, literally! 

Staying hydrated and including a beverage during a meal are great steps towards healthy digestion.

Water is essential for good health and helps your body break down the food it just ingested. It also softens stool which prevents constipation.

It is recommended to drink 2 litres or 8 glasses of water per day. If you have a hard time with this make your water more interesting by adding mint, rosemary or basil with lemons, oranges or limes and cucumbers. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Liquids such as soups, fruit juices and decaffeinated teas are other great ways to stay hydrated and to keep your digestion healthy.

There you have it, many tips and tricks to keep your digestive system running smoothly. Consuming of the correct foods cannot be stressed enough. It is very important to remember that you are what you eat!

Definitions of Digestion

What is soluble and insoluble fibre?

Fibre can be classified into 2 categories: soluble and insoluble. Soluble slows down the time of transit through the digestive system whereas insoluble speeds it up. Oats and legumes are sources of soluble fibres while whole grains and the majority of vegetables have insoluble fibre.

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