People can improve digestion in a number of ways. Appropriate fiber and water intake is one important factor. Increasing the amount of digestive enzymes and helpful bacteria in the digestive tract also can have a positive effect on digestive health. Other simple steps that could be beneficial include chewing food properly and avoiding foods that cause a negative reaction.
Eating an appropriate amount of fiber can improve digestive health. The body cannot digest fiber, but the substance allows food to move faster and more easily through the digestive tract, reducing the risk of constipation. Some healthy sources of fiber include bran, barley, navy beans, pecans, almonds, artichoke hearts, and spinach.
Drinking a sufficient amount of water can improve digestion because dehydration is a major cause of constipation, which causes other problems. Constipation can cause an imbalance between the helpful and harmful bacteria found in the digestive tract. It also can increase the risk of inflammation in the lining of the intestines and may cause the intestines to pass toxins, disease-causing bacteria, and other large molecules into the bloodstream. Adequate water intake may prevent the harmful effects of constipation. If an issue with constipation or its effects already exists, ground flaxseeds mixed into any type of food may be a natural way to help the problem.
Increasing the amount of helpful bacteria in the intestinal tract can improve digestion as well. The good bacteria, known as probiotics, keep the digestive tract healthy, but their numbers can decrease because of illness. There are many kinds of probiotic supplements available for both adults and children that boost the level of helpful bacteria.
In addition to probiotic supplements, people can purchase enzyme supplements to improve digestion. Enzyme supplements can ease many digestive problems, such as bloating, irregularity, gas, constipation, and occasional heartburn of acid indigestion. The amount of digestive enzymes may decrease as people age, and digestive enzyme supplements can help improve overall digestive health for older individuals. For those who prefer a more natural enzyme boost, raw fruits and vegetables contain helpful enzymes as well.
Food allergies and sensitivities can cause a number of digestive issues. Avoiding foods that cause a negative reaction can help improve digestion. Speaking with a dietician may be a good idea for people who suspect sensitivity to food. One method of determining which foods cause a problem is an elimination diet, but people should speak to a nutritionalist or dietician before making any drastic dietary alterations.
Chewing food properly is another simple way to improve digestive health. The digestive enzyme amylase in saliva begins breaking down carbohydrates. Amylase can perform its function better if people take the time to thoroughly chew their food.