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About Healthy Digestion

The digestive system is responsible for extracting nutrients and energy from food so that the body can function properly. Digestion has a lot to do with an individual’s overall health. Even minor difficulties in digesting food can cause extreme discomfort or pain. Fortunately, we know that some digestive foods can help digestion, others can cause indigestion, and that there are several habits one can cultivate to boost healthy digestion.

Foods Good for Digestion

  • Yoghurt:

Made from fermented milk, yoghurt is rich in probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria that are in the human digestive tract and improve gut health. They help with constipation, bloating and diarrhoea, while also aiding in the digestion of milk sugar and lactose. Yoghurt is among the most easily digested foods.

  • Fruits:

Most fruits are rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals. This makes them good for digestion. Apples have a soluble fibre called pectin which bypasses digestion in the small intestine. It is then broken down by bacteria in the colon. Fruits like apples increase the volume of the stool, helping resolve diarrhoea and constipation. They also help lower the risk of inflammation and intestinal infections. Papayas contain the enzyme papain that helps break down protein fibres. Papain also eases IBS symptoms like bloating and constipation

  • Fennel:

Fennel is a plant used to flavour food that prevents constipation and improves digestion. It reduces bloating, gas, abdominal pain and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It helps relax the smooth muscles of the digestive tract, along with lowering cramping and flatulence.

  • Chia Seeds:

Extremely fibrous, chia seeds work like a prebiotic that promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in your intestines. They form a gelatin-like substance in the stomach when consumed. They soothe the digestive tract, reduce constipation, and contain omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation. Chia seeds are also a good source of magnesium.

  • Whole Grains:

Whole grains are seeds that contain 100% of the kernel with the endosperm, germ and bran. Some popular whole grains include quinoa, oats, whole wheat and farro. Whole wheat foods are high in fibre which reduces constipation and helps control blood sugar levels. They also act as prebiotics and produce healthy bacteria in the intestines.

  • Ginger:

Ginger helps accelerate the movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine. In doing so, it reduces nausea, heartburn and discomfort. Ginger is often used in Eastern medicine. Dried ginger powder is a good flavouring ingredient and is used in tea as well. Ginger lessens pain and is a good remedy for gastrointestinal problems. It also has some anti-cancer properties.

  • Dark Green Vegetables:

Green vegetables make the passing of stool faster as they are a good source of insoluble fibre. They contain a number of nutrients like magnesium that relieve constipation and improve muscle contractions in the gut. Spinach, broccoli and brussels sprouts are some of the common dark green vegetables that provide these benefits.

  • Salmon:

Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation. It also has protein that promotes healing of the gut and vitamin D that is important for good immunity and prevents autoimmune diseases.

Food That Can Cause Indigestion

There are several foods that can lead to poor digestion, and increase the risks of heartburn, diarrhoea and bloating. Here are some of the foods that can disrupt digestive healing.

  • Gluten:

Gluten is a protein commonly found in rye, barley and wheat. It increases inflammation of the gut and can damage the intestinal wall. This may lead to food particles breaking into the bloodstream and cause an immune response. Refined carbohydrates like white bread contain gluten.

  • Dairy products:

Dairy products can cause difficulty in digestion because most human bodies tend not to produce the lactase enzyme that is needed to digest lactose in milk. This can cause problems like bloating, cramps and gas. Cow milk, white chocolate, cheese and cream tend to cause indigestion.

  • Refined white sugar:

Refined white sugar can produce inflammatory chemicals and contribute to dysbiosis or imbalance of bacteria. Artificial sweeteners, carbonated beverages, and sweetened drinks are examples of this.

  • Alcohol:

Alcohol disturbs the bacteria in the intestines, causing an overgrowth of harmful bacteria.

  • Coffee:

Coffee can expedite the release of the stomach's contents before time, leading to poor digestion in the long run. It can also interfere with hormones and cause physical and emotional stress. Other drinks containing caffeine also have a similar effect.

  • Spicy foods:

Spicy foods like some curries, saturated fats, and greasy foods like pizza can also be bad for digestion.

Good Habits to Enhance Digestion

Other than consuming foods to improve digestion, people can also cultivate some habits to encourage healthy digestion. Here are some of them:

  • Eat at a Table:

When you sit down at a table and eat, your attention is focused on the food. This helps enhance your digestion. At a table, you can focus on the food and eat alone instead of eating while watching TV.

  • Chewing Right:

Chewing properly is the first step towards healthy digestion. It sets in motion other processes of digestion by breaking down food properly. Chewing properly can communicate to hormones that the next step in digestion must take place. When it occurs in the right sequence, digestion can take place in a healthy manner.

  • Don't Eat In a Rush:

It is important to take your time while eating because when you eat quickly, it can be difficult to be mindful about what you are consuming. Relax and be mindful about what you’re eating.

  • Eat With Others:

When you eat with others, you bond with them. Social eating helps maintain healthy body weight, improves self-esteem, and reduces the instance of eating disorders.

  • Take Supplements:

Digestive enzymes, bitters and other health supplements can also help improve digestion for those struggling with poor digestion.

Conclusion

Each body is different, so the digestive health of each individual also differs. Everyone can manage their gut health in a different way by experimenting with various types of foods. Identify the foods your body is intolerant to or what you are allergic to before you decide what to include in your diet to enhance digestion. If you have recurring digestive problems, consult with your doctor to identify the right diet for you. While you do so, the possibility of medical emergencies due to such conditions cannot be ruled out. Hence, stay prepared with a health insurance policy that keeps you covered.

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