Digestive woes are probably the most common problems people face today.
Sedentary jobs, the ever-growing popularity of fast-food chains and processed food brands, along with our other erratic lifestyle choices, all work together to wreak havoc with our gut health.
Beginning your day with a cup of coffee, grabbing a wrap or a bagel for breakfast and indulging in a fiery meal for lunch while sitting plonked on your work desk may seem like your daily routine.
You may often ignore the regular abdominal aches, the heartburns, and the occasional stomach upset thinking that they'll subside by popping pills and reaching out for antacids.
Little do you realize that these could be symptoms of serious gastrointestinal disorders that can even be life-threatening if left untreated. Issues like constipation, peptic ulcers, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), hemorrhoids, anal fissures, colitis and even colorectal cancer are growing at an alarming rate.
Here are five ways you can prevent intestinal problems before they aggravate:
- Get Moving: Not a fan of sweating it out at the gym? Well, it doesn't matter if you aren't a gym enthusiast; there are many other fun ways you can keep fit. In addition to helping you get closer to the goal of your target weight, exercising also helps keep digestive troubles at bay. Exercise helps improve the flow of blood to all organs of your body, including your digestive tract, thus reducing the risk of constipation. According to the Gastroenterological Society of Australia, cardio workouts help strengthen abdominal and intestinal muscles, stimulating bowel movement. You'll also find yourself much happier and stress-free if you regularly exercise.
- Don't Leave Long Gaps In Between Meals: The fast-paced lives that most people lead today tend to make you so consumed in your daily duties, that your health can get compromised. How often have you skipped a meal because the pressure of a professional deadline was just too much to handle? If you're someone who leaves long gaps in between meals, not only are you harming your physical health, but also your mental well-being. Erratic meal patterns can cause your stomach to secrete large amounts of acids that, if left uncontrolled, can lead to weight gain and bloating, hamper sleep, and kill even the good bacteria that aid digestion. In addition, if you deprive your body of essential nutrients, your energy levels, mood and ability to concentrate can be compromised.
- Rethink Your Dietary Choices: Needless to say, one of the best changes that you can make to improve your intestinal health is to improve your diet. Indulge in fiber rich foods such as fruits, legumes, cereals and plants. Lower your intake of foods rich in saturated fats, like pizzas, pasta, and candy. Dietary fiber helps regulate bowel movements, keeps you fuller for longer periods of time and aids weight loss. Dietary fiber also promotes the activity of the good bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, according to a study conducted by the University of Illinois. It thereby lowers the risk of diseases like type-2 diabetes, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis. Meat lovers should opt for lean meat over fatty red meat, as high fats tend to slow down the process of digestion and cause problems like acid reflux and heartburn. Make sure also to include foods like low-fat yogurt in your diet, as they contain good bacteria (probiotics) that help treat many digestive problems.
- Drink Water, Not Caffeinated Beverages: Can't go even an hour without a cup of coffee? That may be why you complain of tummy troubles so often. Caffeine is a diuretic that increases the flow of blood to the kidneys, thereby also increasing the frequency of urination. This may lead to dehydration that can further contribute to constipation. Caffeine is also highly acidic and can irritate the intestinal lining. On the other hand, drinking water does wonders to hydrate your body and prevent constipation. It helps dissolve fats and fiber and improves bowel movements.
- Avoid Unnecessary Medications: The overuse of medications, especially antibiotics can also play a huge role in disturbing your digestive health. Research suggests that antibiotics have the capability of disrupting the ideal balance of gut microbes. Regular intake of antibiotics can kill even the good bacteria and give rise to drug-resistant superbugs.
And, make sure to plan a healthy diet and exercise routine for yourself and follow it religiously.