Your digestive system has a major impact on how your body functions and your day-to-day life. From producing energy and absorbing nutrients to affecting your mood, there is good reason to keep your digestive system healthy.
What is the digestive system?
The digestive system consists of the organs responsible for breaking down your food to absorb nutrients and expel waste. These organs include the digestive tract, liver, pancreas and gallbladder. The digestive tract consists of a long tube that spans from your mouth through the pharynx, esophagus, stomach and small intestine to the colon.
Why is the digestive system important?
The process of digestion turns your food into nutrients which are needed to function and survive. Your body uses nutrients for energy, growth and cell repair. Further, research has shown that your digestive system can affect mood and overall mental health due to the strong connection between the digestive system and the brain.
What are signs of digestive problems?
Experiencing digestive problems can happen to anyone. Common symptoms include cramps, bloating, gas and diarrhea or constipation. While these are not always a sign of something more serious, certain conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Diverticulitis, and Crohn’s Disease can put you at a higher risk for these symptoms.
Here are 5 tips to keep your digestive system healthy:
- Eat healthy foods — For your digestive system this means eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and both insoluble and soluble fiber. Soluble fiber found in foods like oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, and beans helps your digestive system absorb water. Insoluble fiber found in foods like wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains keeps everything moving through your digestive tract.
- Stay hydrated — Drinking plenty of water helps your digestive system function smoothly. Typically, it’s recommended that women drink 2.7 liters of water per day, and that men drink 3.7 liters per day.
- Take probiotics — Probiotics are the good bacteria in your stomach. They can be added to your diet by eating yogurt, fermented foods or can be consumed in daily supplements.
- Get moving — Exercise increases blood flow and metabolism for smoother digestion.
- See a doctor — If you experience digestive problems regularly, it’s important to see a doctor who can help track your digestive health and manage your symptoms.
For tips that impact both your digestive system and your mind, read The Mind-Gut Connection.
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