Maintaining our digestive health is an important part of our overall health and well being. The digestive system is where vitamins, nutrients, and minerals are absorbed. Unfortunately, factors such as stress, lack of sleep, illness, and aging can lead to an imbalance of bacteria in the digestive tract. Our diets can also contribute to digestive system difficulties, such as eating too much processed food and sugar, eating too quickly, and skipping meals.
Fortunately, we can turn our diets around to help us improve and maintain good digestive health. Here are five ways nutrition can make a difference:
Increase your fiber – Consistently eating the right amount of fiber can promote bowel regularity. High fiber foods such as fruit, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains also help prevent overeating by making you feel full.
Eat your fruits and veggies – Fruits and vegetables contain fiber and a broad range of nutrients important for maintaining digestive health—and an overall healthy diet. For convenience, frozen can be a good option. Most fruits and vegetables are now flash frozen, which helps them retain a lot of their nutrients.
Probiotics are good for you! – Found in many yogurts, fermented dairy products, and some fortified cereals and grains, probiotics help to maintain the balance of “good” bacteria in the digestive tract. Try having a probiotics labeled yogurt every day.
Lean meats and protein – Protein is an important part of a healthy diet. Animal protein contains many vitamins and minerals, but also saturated fats and cholesterol, so choose lean meats, poultry, and fish. Plant proteins, like beans, soy products, and nuts, contain beneficial mono- and polyunsaturated fats without the cholesterol.
Stay hydrated – A healthy digestion cannot exist without water. The digestive system needs the appropriate amount of moisture to function properly, whether it’s water or water-rich food sources like soup.
Nutrition 101 Choose a variety of healthy foods that works best for your diet. Harrison’s nutrition experts can help. For an appointment or more information, call 360-744-6910 or visit harrisonmedical.org/nutrition-services.