A Beginner’s Guide to Digestive Health

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Your digestive system works hard to keep you healthy. It absorbs nutrients from your food, fuels your body, and filters out toxins and unwanted substances. And it’s key to your overall health—but it’s only as healthy as what you consume.

Taking care of such a complicated body system can seem overwhelming, but here’s a quick guide on the basics of supporting balance in your gut.

Bring On the Good Bacteria

Your digestive system is home to countless strains of bacteria that benefit your digestive health—and they go a long way to make you feel good. They determine how well you absorb vital nutrients, and even affect how hungry you feel and what foods you crave. These unique little organisms are referred to as your microflora, and you feed and replenish them by eating foods or supplements rich in probiotics or other helpful enzymes.

While it’s important to introduce beneficial bacteria to your gut, you should also consider prebiotic fibers. Fiber helps feed and nourish your microflora so the bacteria can grow stronger and more diverse as they support your gut health. If beneficial bacteria is a seed, prebiotic fibers function as the water and sunlight to help it sprout and grow.

And when your gut microflora is in balance, you’ll certainly feel the benefit.

What Causes Digestive Discomfort?

Occasional bloating, gas, and abdominal pain are all signs your digestive system isn’t keeping up. Luckily, there are two great answers to tackle this problem: support your digestive health and change your diet to include more gut-loving foods. 

Occasional stomachaches and bloating can be caused by several factors—for most people, the likely culprit is simply eating too much or too quickly. But in some cases, discomfort can also be caused by other issues.

There are several common reasons why you might not feel your best:

  • Eating too much or too quickly
  • Eating fatty, greasy, or spicy foods
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • Certain medications, such as pain relievers
  • Stress and anxiety

With a little bit of work, consistency, and healthy motivation, you can change and build upon these aspects of your daily life. And reducing or replacing some of these pattern lessen the amount of time you spend suffering from an upset stomach.

Avoid “Heavy” Foods

The food you eat directly impacts how your body feels. Lighten the load on your digestive system by ditching some of these heavy food groups:

  • High-Fat Foods: Foods with a high fat content—especially fried foods—will leave you feeling exhausted and uncomfortably full. They’re also low in fiber, a key nutrient for healthy digestion. As a result, eating high-fat foods can even cause constipation.
  • Processed Grains: These carbs are notorious for dumping sugar into your bloodstream and causing you to crash shortly after. They hide in white bread, white rice, and pasta. These grains are also low in fiber and slow your digestion. 
  • Carbonated Beverages: Fizzy drinks keep on bubbling even after you drink them. They can make you feel gassy and bloated, and not so great all around. They’re also full of processed sugars or sugar substitutes your digestive tract will often turn into gas. 
  • Dairy: Lactose (a sugar found in most dairy products) can be difficult for your body to digest. Bloat and fatigue usually follow whenever you consume milk or cheese, and too much can cause constipation or diarrhea. But some fermented dairy products (like yogurt or kefir) contain probiotics, which can help balance your digestive system.

Simple Steps to Support Digestion

Manage digestive discomfort by adopting a few healthy habits and sticking to them.

  1. Eat Plenty of Fiber: Fiber is an essential nutrient for healthy digestion and a balanced gut. It absorbs water and adds bulk to your stool to keep everything flowing consistently. You can find fiber in legumes, leafy vegetables, whole grains, and nuts and seeds.
  1. Embrace Probiotics: Probiotics support the good bacteria in your gut that aid in digestion and absorption. To replenish these bacteria, eat fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, or sauerkraut. Or use supplements with probiotic enzymes.
  1. Stay Hydrated: Fluids keep food traveling through your digestive tract, and getting dehydrated can lead to constipation. So drink plenty of water each day and enjoy hydrating foods—such as fruits, vegetables, soup, and oatmeal.
  1. Eat Responsibly: Improving your digestion comes down to simple eating habits. Chew your food slowly and savor it. Don’t eat late at night, and give yourself proper portions of food. Take time to relax and listen to your body—if there’s something wrong, it will warn you.
  1. Exercise Daily: Frequent, consistent movement is great for your overall health. It supports cardiovascular, digestive, and joint and bone health. So it’s never a bad idea to take a nice, relaxing walk, or get your heart pumping with an activity you enjoy.

Because your digestive system works so hard to keep you enjoying the life you love, consider a few new habits to keep it in working order. Your body will thank you!

About the Featured Product

Bring balance to your belly with the USANA Probiotic, a carefully selected blend of probiotic bacteria that can survive the harsh environment of your stomach to support healthy digestion and immune function. And a convenient stick pack makes it easy to add to your favorite shake or take it on the go.*

By supplying an increase of friendly bacteria to the gut, USANA Probiotic helps create an ideal environment to keep things running smoothly. Taking one stick pack every other day offers important benefits for your daily health and well-being:

  • Supports healthy digestion*
  • Modulates the body’s natural immune response*
  • Contains 12 billion colony-forming bacteria per serving
  • Incorporates live and active cultures

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Born and raised in Utah, Taylor Pulver grew up fishing, camping, and hiking his way through the Wasatch Range. Now, he lives in Salt Lake City as a writer, gardener, and avid reader of fantasy and science fiction novels.

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