Do you eat large meals? Greasy foods or late at night? Most of us do. But that’s little consolation to the pain and discomfort that’s apt to follow.
Digestion is a manageable issue. There are few guarantees in life, but there are guidelines and helpful hints, that can ease indigestion and make life more comfortable. Below are ten guidelines, for good digestion and a happy stomach.
Chew Your Food – Don’t wolf food down like there’s no tomorrow. Chew your food slowly, to avoid swallowing air, which can lead to gas, bloating and nausea.
Eat Smaller Portions – Eat too much at one sitting and you stress your lower esophageal sphincter (LES). That’s the valve that separates your stomach from the esophagus. Food can escape when the LES is loose, causing heartburn and acid reflux. Eat smaller portions, of nutritious foods, with plenty of fruit, vegetables and lean protein. The former two are full of stomach-friendly fiber.
Eat Often – This isn’t an excuse to pig out, rather to eat smaller meals, and more often. Small, yet frequent meals can fill in nutritional gaps and keep your blood sugar levels in check. Don’t skip meals, and try to give yourself ample time to digest your food.
Get Fiber – One of the best ways to beat indigestion is to load up on fiber. Insoluble fibers like apple skin, seeds and nuts absorb water as they pass through the digestive system and encourage better passage. Soluble fibers, like vegetables, fruit, beans and whole grains are gooey binding agents that can help to reduce cholesterol.
Let Gravity Work For You – Resist the urge to lie down after a meal, which can loosen the LES and cause heartburn. Stay upright for about three hours after eating, to let food progress down your stomach and intestines. If you must lie down, try to elevate the head of your bed by six inches.
Know Your Triggers – Avoid foods and drinks that give you grief. Spicy, greasy and fatty foods are notorious for causing digestion problems. Chocolate and caffeine are additional sources of tummy trouble in many people. Use an over-the-counter treatment like Alka-Seltzer or Pepto-Bismal for moments of relapse and ensuing symptoms.
Easy On the Alcohol – Alcohol is a stomach irritant and can weaken the LES, causing acid reflux and other symptoms of indigestion.
Don’t Smoke – Those who puff are more prone to acid reflux and heartburn, and tend to have higher risk of ulcers and Crohn’s Disease.
Move! – Exercise helps food move through the body. Do it often, for good digestion, less constipation and lower risk of colon cancer.
Listen to Your Body – If you have an itch, scratch it. When you gotta go, run to the bathroom. Waste material that lingers in the intestines for too long can harden and dry, making transit difficult and even lead to hemorrhoids.
Also, be aware that roughly 15% of the populations of western countries complain of digestion problems. The pressures of life and convenience of fast-food can make it difficult to eat healthy and live the habits that promote good digestion. But try. Give these guidelines a go, and your stomach will thank you.