A healthy digestive system is a key part of overall health & wellness. Your digestive system is responsible for breaking down food so your body can absorb the nutrients & convert food to energy. It removes toxins from the body, is directly related to immune health and there is strong evidence connecting cognitive health to digestive health. One of the best ways to keep your digestive system healthy is to keep things moving along… i.e. pooping.
It can be such a taboo subject, but the reality is we all need to poop and we need to do it regularly 😉 Here are 5 ways to healthier gut – these tips apply to kids too!
Eat more plants
You need 20-30 grams of fiber each day. Fiber can be found in beans, whole grains, fruit, and vegetables and ideally should come from all those sources. But most of us need to eat more veggies too so think plants!
Tip: The fiber in fruit contain sugars like fructose and sorbitol that can increase the frequency and soften the consistency of bowel movements.
Now that you’ve added more fiber, DRINK MORE WATER. Not only do you need water general for healthy digestion, if you increase your fiber intake without increasing your water intake, you are setting yourself up for gas & bloating 😉
Individual hydration needs vary, but we recommend half your body weight in ounces. (180lb person needs 90 oz of water)
Tip: A good indicator that you are getting enough water is urine color, we want light and clear.
Cultured and fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, unpasteurized sauerkraut and Gouda cheese contain probiotics. Probiotics help maintain healthy levels of good bacteria in your digestive system – the bacteria that breaks down food so it can be absorbed, converted, or passed.
Tip: If you are dairy sensitive or prefer to pass on the ‘kraut, try a probiotic supplement.
Ever body is different. What helps you poop may plug someone else up. Pay attention to your body and figure out what works best for you. If you have a troublesome gut (gas, bloating, constipation) keep a simple food journal of what you eat and how you feel after – you’ll likely start to notice trends.
Tip: Some people find red meat and dairy constipating. Bananas can be too – something to watch for in kids or to use in cases of loose stool 😉
Movement is essential for regularity. Aerobic exercise helps stimulate the contraction of the intestines, moving food along more quickly. The faster transit time (yes, the faster your food and then poop moves through the intestines) means less time for water to be pulled from it. This keeps it softer and easier to pass.
Tip: Wait an hour after a big meal before any vigorous exercise. Exercise takes blood flow away from the digestive tract to fuel the heart and muscles and actually causes constipation.
Vanessa Lennick, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Proximal50 Life Center