Eat food with high dietary fiber
Dietary fiber is also known as bulk or roughage. They are a type of carbohydrate our body cannot digest. It may be commonly found in cereals, fruits, and vegetables. Intake of dietary fiber has its benefits, such as improving digestion and regulating the bowels to manage constipation. It also facilitates the fermentation of short chain fatty acids to help increase muscle contraction of the large intestine.
According to the National Academy of Medicine, the recommended intake of dietary fiber for men is 30-38 grams per day and 21-25 grams daily for women. The recommended daily intake for children is 19-25 grams daily.
Limit your consumption of processed foods
Processed food contains trans-fat that may be associated with inflammatory bowel diseases. It also contains high quantity of salt and low fiber content. Salt has also been known to have dehydrating effects that results in constipation. You should opt for fresh fruits and vegetables with enough dietary fiber or poultry instead of processed meat.
Eat Probiotic food
Probiotic foods are fermented food containing good bacteria(1) naturally found in the intestine. These bacteria improve intestinal health by helping food digestion and influencing your immune system.
Examples of probiotic food include yogurt, cottage cheese, apple cider, and buttermilk. Probiotics are also available in supplements, functioning similarly to fermented food. American Association of Family Physician recommends a daily intake of 1 billion to 10 billion CFUs (colony forming units).
Feed good bacteria with prebiotics
It is important to feed the good bacteria from probiotics as well as those innately present in your digestive system. Prebiotics are used by the good bacteria to manage their activities and compositions. Prebiotics remain indigestible by your body but are digested by probiotics. Simply put, they are food for probiotics. In addition, prebiotics may provide health benefits of their own when taken in adequate amounts.
Prebiotics are present in high fiber food such as chicory root, garlic, onions, wheat bran, and barley, etc. They can also be taken in the form of dietary supplements. The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics recommends a daily intake of 5 grams.
Exercising regularly not only helps you stay in shape, but it also has its benefits related to your digestive health. A study(2) has shown that spending 40 minutes, three times a week on moderate exercise, may decrease the time taken for food particles to pass through the digestive tract. Thus, increasing bowel movement.
Staying hydrated is very important to your gut’s health. The human body is composed of 60% water, and the body requires a constant intake of water to function effectively. Dehydration causes a change in intestinal pH, and water content, leading to constipation. The Institute of Medicine recommends that 2-3 liters of water be consumed daily for overall health.
Eating sufficient food rich in dietary fiber, prebiotics and probiotics is the best way to care for your digestive system. They also come in supplements that help meet the daily intake requirements.
2. Yeon Soo Kim, et al “Aerobic exercise improves gastrointestinal motility in psychiatric inpatients” World J Gastroenterol. 2014 Aug 14; 20(30): 10577–10584.