Fibers for Healthy DigestionTo ensure healthy digestion, the most important element in the eating pattern is fibers. A high-fiber diet increases the contractions of the intestines (the digestive tracks), thereby making it easier for the food to move through them to get digested and absorbed into the blood. With sufficient fibers in the diet, one becomes highly unlikely to suffer from constipation or other more severe digestive conditions such as diverticulosis and hemorrhoids. In addition, fibers help in reducing obesity as they slow down the digestion process, giving us a feeling of fullness that lasts for longer periods of time. There are two types of fibers, soluble and insoluble fibers, both of which are useful in enhancing the functionality of the body’s digestive system. On one hand, soluble fibers absorb water and help to prevent diarrhea. They also play a role in regulating cholesterol levels as they bind directly with the cholesterol molecules to promote their excretion. They are available in nuts, seeds, oat bran, and legumes. On the other hand, insoluble fibers will not be digested by the body and hence add bulk to the stool and prevent constipation. They are sometimes referred to as roughages, and they are responsible for the feeling of fullness achieved with eating fibers. These fibers can be obtained from wheat bran, whole grains, and vegetables. It is important to keep in mind that increasing the intake of fiber needs to take place gradually and a sharp increase would shock the digestive system and may cause cramps.
Macronutrients IntakeMaintaining a balanced intake of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) is also essential to ensure healthy digestion. Proteins represent the macronutrients that are directly responsible for healthy growth whereas carbohydrates and fats are responsible for energy production. While all three macronutrients are of equal importance, excessive intake of fatty foods, either in their natural fat form or fat-rich protein sources, may lead to slower digestion and higher chances of constipation. Nevertheless, a certain amount of fats are required to utilize their benefits while allowing the body to combine them with fibers to ensure their digestion. In addition, avoiding white and refined carbohydrates is healthier as they tend to be low in fibers and nutrients. Processed meat also needs to be avoided, and lean meat should be preferred. Careful monitoring of the sugar intake is also essential to ensure the overall health of the body. The general macronutrient guidelines for average, moderately active adult men and women to achieve a balanced diet are reported in the table below:
|Saturated Fats (g)||30||20|
The nutritional values given in the table are the reference requirements to maintain the body weight while ensuring healthy digestion, healthy absorption and healthy growth and development. The values and proportions would change in case weight loss, or weight gain are desired, but this is beyond the scope of this article.
The Associated Lifestyle
Apart from selecting the suitable foods to encourage efficient operation of the digestive system, the person’s lifestyle needs to be adjusted to aid in the digestion process. This can be done using a variety of ways, described as follows.
To begin with, exercising is essential to stimulate the digestion process as it keeps food moving through the digestive tracks. In addition, regular exercises help with overcoming obesity and maintaining a healthy weight which thereby ensures healthy body functions and healthy digestion.
Nevertheless, it is essential to keep sufficient time between having a meal and exercising in order to avoid any gastrointestinal problems. After all, digestion would not be able to take place efficiently during exercises as the body utilizes as much of its blood as possible to supply energy to the muscle and lungs.
Maintaining a regular eating schedule also ensures healthy digestion as it keeps the body prepared for the upcoming meal and hence the digestive system anticipates and is ready for, its upcoming job. The optimum plan is to have five smaller meals rather than two or three large ones. This is because smaller meals mean easier work on the digestive system, and distributing them throughout the day helps keep the body’s metabolism active throughout the day which helps with weight adjustments.
Moreover, sufficient hydration is essential for a healthy digestive system. On one hand, enough water intake helps the intestines remain flexible and smooth, thereby helping the food move through them.
On the other hand, water works together with fibers to create a soft and bulky stool that can be excreted more easily. Hydration is achieved by both sufficient drinking water (around eight glasses per day for an average adult) and eating fresh food and vegetables that have a high water content. Avoiding alcohol and reducing the intake of caffeine also help to keep the body hydrated.
Furthermore, stress-reduction helps improve the functionality of the digestive system. This is because, when the body is stressed, the digestive system becomes almost dormant, as the nervous system redirects the blood flow towards its functions and away from the muscles of the digestive system. It is then essential for a person to de-stress him/herself by indulging in a relaxing routine or yoga before having the meals.
The tips described above, if followed, can ensure a healthy digestive system with minimal digestion problems. This contributes significantly towards a well-developed body that is able to perform all its internal functionalities with minimum health problems.
References https://www.everydayhealth.com/digestive-health/tips-for-better-digestive-health/ https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/spotlight-high-fibre-diets https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/balanced-diet-women https://www.manhattangastroenterology.com/exercise-affects-digestion/ https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/how-avoid-indegestion https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/better-digestion/how-stress-affects-digestion/