Five Simple Ways to Improve Your Digestion
We’ve all heard the adage, “You are what you eat”. There’s a reason for it; nutrition is that important. The nutrients you absorb or don’t absorb can affect your entire health ranging from your mood, energy, muscle recovery, hormonal problems, constipation, gas, hemorrhoids and many more problems than we can name here. Digestion can make or break your health.
As athletes and bodybuilders, we strive great lengths to make sure we’re getting all our macros from our diets. But what if despite our best efforts, we still could not absorb the nutrients we were consuming? The effect is as if we were not eating properly to begin with. Don’t let your health and your hard work go to waste! Here are five simple ways to improve your digestion.
Eat More Fiber:
This is the most obvious tip to improve digestion health and chances are you’ve already heard this before. However, numbers don’t lie and you’re most likely not getting in enough fiber each day. The average American adult consumes 15 grams of fiber a day. According to the Institute of Medicine, men and women need 38 and 25 grams of fiber per day (respectfully).
If you’re unsure whether or not you need to eat more fiber, you can conduct your own medical test known as the bowel transit time test. For this test you will use sweet corn as a marker. Simply eat the corn on an empty stomach and monitor your bowel movement and stool for the undigested corn. Healthy digestion transit time is between 18 and 24 hours. If your digestion is longer than 24 hours, you need more fiber.
You can increase your dietary fiber intake by eating more vegetables, fruits, nuts and beans. For those of us who cannot reach their fiber intake from food, you can use fiber supplements.
Dehydration is one major cause of constipation. When your body is dehydrated, the large colon absorbs water from food that is digesting within. The result is hard stool that causes back up and straining. Remember, the old saying of “8 glasses of water per day” does not factor in your activity level. Athletes and gym goers will need to drink more water according to activity level. The easiest way to determine whether or not your drinking enough water is to examine your urine which should be a transparent or very light yellow.
Take Probiotics: The “Good” Bacteria
You read that right. There are “good bacteria” (aka microflora) living in your gut which play a vital role in digestion. Microflora simply help digest undigested nutrients inour intestines. There are also unfavorable bacteria living in your gut as well. When there’s an imbalance between favorable and unfavorable bacteria, digestive problems and intestinal discomfort such as bloating occur. Probiotic supplements are an easy remedy for microflora imbalance. NOW Foods Probiotic 10 is a recommended high quality probiotic supplement.
Supplement with Digestive Enzymes
Enzymes are special proteins produced in the body which help break down food into nutrients. If your body has trouble producing enzymes, you could find yourself with digestive problems and nutrient deficiencies. Taking a digestive enzyme supplement with meals can help support digestion and nutrient uptake.
Chew Your Food!
Digestion starts with chewing. It’s important to not rush while eating and thoroughly chew your food. Chewing your food increases the surface area for digestive acids and enzymes to break down food into nutrients. Plus, people who eat slower tend to feel satisfied with smaller meals which is a great incentive to start immediately.