The digestive system is a wonder of human biology. It breaks down the nutrients
you eat into parts small enough for your body to use for energy, growth,
and cell repair. Since your body needs nutrients to work properly, a functioning
digestive system is essential for staying healthy.
How does the digestive system work?
The digestive system consists of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, the liver,
the pancreas, and the gallbladder. These organs work together with the
GI tract to break down what you eat and drink into carbohydrates, fats,
Your food’s digestive journey begins in your mouth. After swallowing,
food passes into the esophagus and then the stomach. Then it passes into
the small intestine, which further breaks down the food, absorbs nutrients,
and sends nutrients into your bloodstream.
The rest of the food residue makes its way into your large intestine. Here,
bacteria feed off the food remnants. After this step, any undigested food
is expelled through a bowel movement.
Happy gut, healthy life
Digestive discomfort can be a real pain. Symptoms like bloating, gas, stomach
cramps, and diarrhea can affect your daily life, but these symptoms can
also be managed and prevented with a few simple lifestyle changes that
promote a healthy gut:
Focus on fruits and veggies. Eat at least seven servings of
fruit and vegetables each day—canned, fresh, frozen, or dried. Plants and produce are
rich in fiber and contain disease-fighting chemicals.
Choose whole grains. When buying groceries, look for the “whole grain” label on
the packaging and check the fiber content. If possible, choose items with
at least three grams of dietary fiber.
Limit red meat. Pick poultry and fish more often than red meat. If giving up steak isn’t
in your plans, consume smaller portions of meat less often. Instead of
a 12-ounce porterhouse, try a four-ounce steak once or twice a week.
Avoid processed foods. Foods high in carbs, trans fats, and additives are linked to an increased
risk of digestive problems. Say no to lunch meats, foods with artificial
sweeteners, and high-sodium packaged snacks.
Switch up your cooking style. Although they can make for some delicious dishes, frying and sautéing
are some of the worst cooking styles for gut health. Try steaming, poaching,
stewing, braising, or boiling instead. Don’t forget—make sure
your meat is cooked thoroughly before eating it.
Pick probiotics. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that fight harmful bacteria and produce
healthy substances to nourish your gut. Foods like yogurt, kimchi, kefir,
raw sauerkraut, raw apple cider vinegar, and kombucha are fantastic sources
Limit sugars and animal fats. Foods with added sugars and animal fats can produce harmful chemicals
in the gastrointestinal tract that cause damage over time. Before you
buy food, check the label for added sugars and fats. Choose lean meats
and skinless poultry, and avoid high-fat dairy products like cheese and butter.
Ditch your bad habits.
Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and excessive caffeine can lead to digestive
problems like stomach ulcers and heartburn.
Stress can have many negative effects on the body, including digestive issues.
Find stress-reducing activities—like yoga, meditation, art, or gardening—and
practice them on a regular basis to keep stress in check.
Savor your food. Eating and drinking too fast not only can lead to
weight gain and heart disease, but it can interrupt your digestive system, also.
If you frequently experience symptoms like bloating, heartburn, diarrhea,
abdominal cramps, or constipation,
talk to your doctor or schedule an appointment with a
Frederick Health gastroenterologist. Be sure to explain to them the type of problems you’ve been having,
as well as how long they have been happening. Many digestive issues have
similar symptoms, so your doctor will run tests to determine what is causing