For gastroenterologists, their core and most important goal is to protect and maintain the digestive health of their patients. Given the severity, increased prevalence, and complexity of the digestive issues, Australians are reporting, this aspect of healthcare has become the most important it has been.
Many individuals have questions about what they can do to maintain a healthy digestive system. As many gastroenterologists will state, this comes down to a few, simple lifestyle changes.
This blog looks at some of the steps you can take to maintain peak digestive health, prevent the onset of gastroenterological conditions or control the symptoms of any conditions you may already be diagnosed with.
Maintaining a high-fibre diet
As part of many condition management strategies including those for IBS, increasing dietary fibre comes highly recommended.
Here, food items like vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains, to name just a few, keep food moving through the digestive tract, preventing constipation and other conditions like diverticulosis and haemorrhoids.
Fibre is also considered an excellent part of weight-loss diets and for individuals who are trying to maintain a healthy weight.
In this process, it’s important to incorporate both soluble and insoluble fibre. While insoluble fibre can’t be digested, they add bulk to the stool. Soluble fibre, on the other hand, draws in water and prevents stool from becoming too watery as seen in cases of diarrhoea.
Stress management and getting regular exercise
Another major aspect of maintaining your digestive health is stress management and getting regular exercise.
The relationship between stress, anxiety, and mental and emotional disturbances with the digestive system is one that has been researched extensively and established. This means that effective stress management can boost digestive health.
Apart from relaxing pastimes like meditation and yoga, and receiving psychological support, when necessary, getting regular exercise is an important aspect of both stress management and maintaining digestive health.
Exercise not only releases endorphins that help with stress relief but also assist the digestive process, preventing conditions like constipation. It is recommended that individuals get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, with activity as simple as walking having the ability to reduce bloating and gas.
Avoiding excessive alcohol and smoking
Regular alcohol consumption and smoking can be extremely damaging to the digestive system. Apart from its damage to other parts of the body like the respiratory system, excessive smoking can also lead to peptic ulcers, heartburn, liver disease, Crohn’s disease, and other conditions that are damaging to digestive health.
Alcohol damages the organs that are associated with the central functions of the digestive system. From the mouth to the stomach, it disrupts the regular functioning of the digestive system, causing the body to try and eliminate alcohol as fast possible, instead of processing other, more important nutrients.
When alcohol is being processed or metabolised in the liver, it is converted into a toxic chemical known as acetaldehyde, which can cause cancer and cause other types of damage.
Ensuring continuous hydration
Hydration is a standard recommendation many health professionals make. In the context of digestive health, hydration becomes important because of its ability to ease digestion and defecation.
When plenty of water is present in the body, it is pulled into the colon to make stool softer and bulkier, which not just prevents constipation but other gastroenterological conditions like rectal bleeding as well.
Staying hydrated by drinking enough water has also been linked to weight-loss. This is because ample hydration boosts the body’s metabolism, helps you feel and remain full longer, and sends the right signals to the digestive system, which can often mistake thirst for hunger.
In short, the more hydrated you are (provided there are no major contraindications), the more likely it is that you maintain peak digestive health.
Maintaining digestive health is essential to leading a healthy and well-balanced life
Ensuring optimum digestive health is a lifelong commitment. Given the serious consequences of many gastroenterological conditions, taking these steps can prevent significant pain, discomfort and disruption to everyday life.
For more information on digestive health recommendations, speak to Sydney Gut Clinic’s team of experienced gastroenterology specialists.