Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Healthy Digestive Tract is Important for Overall Health

In my last post, I talked a bit about how proper nutrition was important to fuel and to repair the body. Well, all the fuel in the world won't help if your body cannot properly digest it. This is part of why it is paramount to keep your digestive tract in working order.

The common American diet is very unhealthy on the digestive tract. Excess junk food, processed meats, and other unhealthy items coupled with a lack of insoluble fiber can lead to constipation, chronic bloating, and even more serious conditions such as colon cancer. People that want to live a healthy lifestyle should try to minimize these unhealthy foods and introduce more insoluble fiber in their diets.

Insoluble fiber absorbs water, creating bulk and making it easier to pass stool. If you are taking in lots of protein (especially whey protein supplements), I advise you to take in some fiber and water to help prevent cramping and make it easier to exit your system. You may have to gradually increase your fiber intake rather than taking it in all at once so that your body can comfortably adjust to your new diet.

It is really easy to increase your fiber intake without sacrificing (healthy) foods that you love. For example, you can add some flax seeds to your oatmeal, cereal, smoothies, or salads. Granola or nuts in Greek yogurt is another way to get fiber along with protein. Fruits and veggies are great sources of fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals. Eating a slice of wheat bread with meals may also help, but if you are allergic to gluten or trying to cut carbs, this may not be the best choice.

Aside from an increased fiber intake, physical activity can help the digestive system. Going for a run or for a jog can get things moving. Exercises targeting the abdominal region, such as situps, may also be helpful. If you work at a job that requires you to be seated all day, try to get up and stretch or pace around the office if you can. Sitting up straight in your chair and retaining good posture, as small as these things may seem, will also help your digestive tract to work more efficiently.

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