Article By: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch
Digestion is an important bodily function. It breaks down the food and beverages you ingest into small molecules that your body can use.
One way to promote healthy digestion is to eat a well-rounded meal. The Cleveland Clinic recommends several different fruits, vegetables, proteins and grain products to include in your diet. Examples of fruits to try include kiwi, apples, watermelon, pears, grapes, peaches and bananas. If you cannot get fresh fruit, fruits canned in either water or fruit juice are good alternatives.
Several vegetables, such as zucchini, potatoes, broccoli, beans and corn, as well as vegetable juices, can promote healthy digestion. Lean meats, fish and poultry are good sources of protein, and there are several vegetarian options, including tofu, nuts and lentils. With grain products, look for whole wheat options, such as whole wheat pasta and bread.
In addition to eating digestive-friendly foods, avoid foods and beverages that can cause indigestion, such as spicy foods, caffeine, fatty foods, alcohol and carbonated beverages.
Besides eating a well-rounded diet and drinking plenty of water, you may want to add a probiotic supplement containing the healthy bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus or Bifidobacterium. Probiotics can support the healthy functioning of your digestive system.* In addition to aiding with your digestion, probiotics encourage the growth of healthy bacteria.*
Slowing down when you eat can help with digestion, as well. When you eat, chew slowly and do not rush through the meal. Try smaller and more frequent meals during the day.
During mealtime, create a calm and stress-free environment. It is also important to manage your stress the rest of the day. Try relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, in which you tense and release the muscles in different parts of your body, moving from your feet to your head, while breathing deeply.
Other lifestyle changes you can make to help your digestive system and your overall well-being are to quit smoking and maintain a healthy weight. Regular exercise is also important. MayoClinic.com suggests 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week. Before starting any new workout regimen, check with your health care professional.
Reviewed on January 17, 2013
by Maryann Gromisch, RN
Edited by Jody Smith
1) Cleveland Clinic. Healthy Eating for the Digestive System. Web. 16 January 2013. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/healthy_living/nutrition/hic_Healthy_Eatin...