Want to know how to improve digestion naturally?
It’s probably a lot more simple than you might think. Stomach cramping, nausea, and bloating can happen from time to time. But when you’re dealing with these digestive issues more often than not, it can be more than uncomfortable — it can be life-altering.
Digestion is a natural process for our body, but sometimes we can kink up the process in ways that are pretty easy to fix. Luckily, diet and lifestyle choices and habits can be changed to make your stomach work as it should. For example, drinking more water not only keeps you hydrated, but it also keeps everything moving in your digestive tract.
Other ways to improve digestive health include:
- Using natural digestive aids
- Eating wholesome foods
- Taking a probiotic
- Eating mindfully
- Staying hydrated
- Skipping artificial sweeteners
Below, we cover why each one can help you in your quest for learning how to improve digestion naturally at home. Here’s a look at seven ways to improve your gut health starting today.
1. Regular Exercise
There’s no denying how good exercise is for the body. Not only does daily movement keep your muscles and heart strong, but it also increases blood flow in your digestive tract. This process helps your body move undigested food along with much more ease. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, it can cause other issues such as bloating, constipation, and more.
Ways to improve your digestion through exercise:
- Move daily - Set a date with yourself on the calendar every day to get out and move. It can be as simple as a walk or as rigorous as a kickboxing class.
- Give moderate exercise a try - If you enjoy cycling and jogging, consider doing it regularly. One study reported regular cyclers and joggers improved food gut transit time by almost 30%.
- Let food digest before your workout - Proper digestion takes time, which means you can’t eat a heavy meal and then immediately head out for a jog. Experts recommend waiting up to three hours after a meal that’s heavy in fat and proteins. A light meal or snack containing carbs prior to working out is best — like a banana.
Once you start making movement a regular part of your routine, you may notice you feel less constipated and more energized. Consider making exercise a part of your daily life for improved digestive responses.
2. Try Natural Digestive Helpers
Sometimes you just can’t get away from stomach woes. Perhaps you’ve eaten a bad meal or maybe ate too much. Stomach gurgles, nausea, and indigestion can be uncomfortable and sometimes even painful. All are signs that your stomach isn’t happy with what’s in it and going through it.
Two digestive aids to try:
- Ginger - When taken, ginger acts as an antispasmodic, which can be especially helpful after a round of vomiting followed by nausea. It’s also frequently used to relieve gas and bloating, too.
- Peppermint - Not only does peppermint have a pleasant scent that can minimize waves of nausea, but it also works wonders in the actual GI tract. Menthol is a key substance of peppermint, which is known to relax the muscles of the small intestine to reduce stomach cramping and pains.
To eliminate stomach discomfort, you can lean on nature’s most powerful digestive helpers. Give these a try as teas, chews, or even in tablet or capsule form for the best relief.
3. Eat Whole Foods
Some foods are just meant to improve gut health. If you like to eat your way to health instead of just taking an assortment of daily pills, clean, whole foods are the way to go. Over the years, researchers have found food additives in packaged, processed foods — like salt and other chemicals — harm the gut lining and lead to inflammation.
Foods that are helpful for gut health include:
- Leafy greens (spinach, kale, collard greens, etc.)
- Whole grains (oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, etc.)
- Low-fructose fruits (peaches, blueberries, strawberries, etc.)
Another whole foods tip to try: Aim for foods high in omega-3 fatty acids — essential nutrients your body needs — like flaxseeds, walnuts, and chia seeds to keep your gut happy. A Scientific Reports published study found that omega-3s may be responsible for promoting good gut bacteria, which may lower the risk of inflammatory diseases.
4. Take Daily Probiotics
A daily probiotic is one simple way to improve your gut health relatively quickly. Good gut health plays a big impact on your overall health, which is why maintaining healthy gut flora is essential. Probiotics, which are live microorganisms, contain the “good” bacteria your gut needs to thrive and keep your GI tract healthy.
- Prevent diarrhea
- Boost immunity
- Balance good gut bacteria
Probiotics can be found in certain foods like pickles and coconut products, but you can also try them in a daily supplement to ensure you get it daily. You can find probiotics as shots, tablets, capsules, and powders.
Learn more here about why probiotics are key to improving digestion and overall health!
5. Eat Mindfully
Mindful eating not only helps you enjoy your meal more, but it also kickstarts the digestive process properly. When you chew your food thoroughly and slowly, it activates the saliva in your mouth to start breaking down carbs and fats. This makes it that much easier for your digestive tract to process the food and move it through your intestines.
Tips for mindful eating:
- Focus on slow eating - If you tend to rush through meals, it can cause excessive air intake and lead to gas.
- Put your fork down - Between bites, take the time to set your fork down. Doing so will help you to mindfully slow your chewing and enjoy the meal that’s in front of you. Every time you pick up your fork, it’s a conscious decision and will make it easier to stop when you’re full.
Skip the electronics - If you’ve ever watched a movie and snacked mindlessly, you know how easy it is to polish off way more food than you intended to consume. When you focus on nothing but eating and aren’t watching t.v. or scrolling on your phone, your body has your full attention and you’ll eat less.
Tired of taking acid reflux meds? Focus on breathing training exercises. A study by the Medical University Graz in Austria found actively training the diaphragm with breathing can lessen the impact of GERD, which can cause the “acid reflux” burning sensation in the chest and esophagus. Large meals can also cause acid reflux to act up, so mindful eating and breathing can potentially reduce the need to take that antacid post-meal.
6. Stay Hydrated
Water keeps things moving. For the best digestive health, it’s essential to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. It’s a must for a healthy digestive tract that moves food all the way through your body. If you have a hard time hitting your daily water intake, you may find yourself constipated because your stools aren’t soft enough.
Ways to ensure you get enough water:
- Try coconut water for a tasty alternative
- Keep your water bottle with you at all times
- Add slices of vitamin-C rich fruit for flavor
If you find yourself having a hard time “meeting” your daily intake goal, remember all hope is not lost. Your body can get water from a variety of water-rich food sources like watermelon, cantaloupes, zucchini, and cucumbers, too!
Have a sweet tooth and want to hydrate? Give our healthy homemade popsicles a try!
7. Skipping Fake Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are used in everything from beverages to gum and ice cream to coffee creamers. Some have even been banned in the U.S. since the 1970s. Fake sweeteners can cause bloating and other stomach issues.
Artificial sugars to avoid:
- Acesulfame potassium
- Aspartame-acesulfame salt
Research shows that the use of artificial sweeteners can potentially increase harmful gut bacteria numbers, which can increase your risk of illness. Studies on the fake sweeteners showed participants who ate 50 grams of xylitol caused bloating and diarrhea in about 70% of participants. The same symptoms showed up for those who used 75 grams of erythritol, too. Sorbitol in excessive amounts is also thought to cause cramping and bloating.
Adopt Good Habits to Improve Digestion
While the above insight may not be groundbreaking, it may serve as a helpful reminder of ways you can focus on improving digestive health on your own.
Sometimes all it takes is one or two tweaks — as simple as drinking more water, for example — to get your digestive tract moving in the right direction. Practice daily habits like mindful eating, skipping processed foods, and using the right daily probiotic and watch how your gut health improves.
Once you’ve made some changes on your own, see how you feel. Consider keeping a food and symptoms journal to see how certain stomach issues resolve when you start implementing the above tips.
If you’re still having stomach issues, consider talking to a dietitian, nutritionist, or gastroenterologist to ensure there’s not a more serious health condition going on. Once caught, digestive issues like GERD, ulcerative colitis, and other GI issues can be managed — often through diet and lifestyle changes.
Ready to start on a daily probiotic? Check out our favorite, GUT CHECK! This organic shot is the perfect probiotic as it has gut-balancing ingredients like apple cider vinegar, aloe vera juice, ginger juice, lemon juice, apple juice, and coconut water!