Readers – DIGEST!

~By Sheila Garcia

For some of us, digestive discomfort has become a fact of life. We complain about everyday conditions like occasional gas, bloating and irregularity, and we just assume it’s something we can’t escape.

Common digestive problems include heartburn/GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Symptoms may include bloating, diarrhea, gas, stomach pain, and stomach cramps. Treatment includes a combination of medication and lifestyle changes.

By paying attention and making a few simple changes, you can help your digestive system do the job it was made to do – absorb nutrients and keep things running smoothly.

There’s almost nothing better for your digestive system (and your overall health and wellness!) than water.  Just like not ingesting enough fiber, drinking too little water slows down your digestive system considerably because it can cause a harder stool, which is more difficult to pass. Drink plenty of water – especially after you exercise. You’ll know when you’re getting enough water when your pee is clear all day long.

Physical activity speeds up digestion, increases blood flow to all your organs, and stimulates muscles in the GI tract, helping your organs work more efficiently.  It can even tone the walls of your colon! Legacy Fitness hosts many different classes at various times – there is definitely one to suit your needs!

Fatty and fried foods are hard to digest, slow the process way down, and take its toll a system that would otherwise run well. If you’re looking to cut back on your fat intake, try choosing meats that are lower in fat such as chicken and turkey and go for leaner cuts of pork, and replace butter and margarine with olive oil.

Make fiber a regular part of your every day routine, and you will be regular every day. Fiber is the traffic cop that helps keep everything moving smoothly in your intestines. It slows down digestion and absorption so the glucose in food enters your bloodstream more slowly, keeping your blood sugar at a more even level. Additionally, fiber increases the weight and size of your stools, and by softening them, fiber helps them pass quickly through your system. Without fiber, you get the gas, gridlock, and occasional discomfort of constipation.

Studies show that even small weight gains are linked to GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), a condition in which the valve between the stomach and esophagus doesn’t close completely, allowing stomach acid back into the esophagus. Losing even a few pounds eases some of the pressure in your abdominal area and can help reduce heartburn and other discomfort.

Nobody likes to be rushed, and your digestive system is no exception. In very intricate ways your body sends the signal to your brain that you’ve eaten enough take a little time to kick in. Slow down and chew each bite at least 20 times. That gives your stomach plenty of time to prepare to properly digest the nutrients you are giving it, and allows your body and brain to tell you when you’ve had enough. Don’t eat in front of the TV or the computer. Studies show that when people are distracted while eating (such as by the big game or the latest post from a Facebook friend), they eat significantly more than when they are at a dinner table, focusing on their food.

Probiotics are live microorganisms (in most cases, bacteria) that are similar to the beneficial microorganisms naturally found in the human gut. These “good bacteria” are used to prevent and alleviate many different conditions but particularly those that affect the gastrointestinal tract. They are particularly good at regulating the amount of healthy bacteria in your system and normalizing bowel movements. In order to reap the full benefits of taking probiotics, some experts recommend eating probiotic-rich foods or taking a probiotic supplement for a minimum of two weeks — try it and see if you notice a difference!

Intestinal bacteria produce gas when foods haven’t yet traveled through the small intestine. If gas particles aren’t released right away, the stomach expands like a balloon. Although overeating is the most known cause for bloating, some people battle the bloat on a daily basis – even if they haven’t eaten an oversized meal. If this sounds like you, the triggers may not be how much you’re eating, but what you’re eating. Try to limit your consumption of sodium, starches and artificial sweeteners as they are common culprits.

Your gut and its digestion is one of the most important functions of your body.  Keeping it healthy is valuable to your health and fitness lifestyle.  You only get one chance – reshape your body, from the inside and out!

Some sources for this article:
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