Every day over 70 million people suffer from some type of digestive issue, whether it’s heartburn, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, etc. and this trend needs to stop. Having a healthy stomach is extremely important to your overall health, happiness, and wellbeing. We need to be taking better care of our guts whether through diet, exercise, and/or overall lifestyle changes.
The truth is, more Americans are hospitalized with digestive diseases each year than any other type of disease. Some major culprits of this problem are drinking, smoking, and overall stress. Alcohol in moderation has very little effect on our digestive system, but in large amounts, it can be absolutely destructive. So the first thing we need to do to take better care of our stomachs is to avoid drinking too much. Smoking almost always negatively affects our bodies, and your gut is no different. The smoke found in cigarettes weakens our stomach lining, which in turn increases our receptiveness to issues like acid reflux. Stress is the final piece of this puzzle that, when paired with drinking, smoking, or any other digestive issues, can worsen pre-existing conditions or lead to the development of things like ulcers.
Another issue that a lot of us face which is destroying our digestive system is having excess weight on our bodies. The term “overweight” can mean much more than what usually comes to our mind when we hear the term. All of the extra and unnecessary fat we carry around puts a lot of pressure and strain on our stomachs, which hinders our digestion. This can lead to issues like acid reflux, heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, and much more. However, avoiding this negative factor for gut health can be much more difficult than choosing not to drink or smoke. Healthy eating habits are something that takes time to get in place, and even longer to truly stick to, but the benefits are far and wide!
What if you don’t drink or smoke and you’re in fairly good shape? Can gut health still be an issue for you? The answer there is a resounding, “Yes!” Often times we associate thinness with healthiness, and this simply shouldn’t always be the case, especially when it comes to gut health. Just because we look healthy on the outside, does not mean that our bodies are performing optimally on the inside. Eating fermented foods is a great way to help ensure you’re getting all the necessary healthy gut bacteria you need while helping to eliminate the unhealthy bacteria in your gut. Foods such as yogurt, tempeh, and kombucha are very well known for the positive benefits they provide in regards to gut health.
Another beneficial, easy change you can make to help improve your gut health is to incorporate more whole foods into your diet. By eating fruits, vegetables, legumes, and beans you are naturally providing your body with foods that are rich in fiber! Our bodies alone cannot digest fiber, but certain healthy bacteria in your gut can, by eating these foods you are aiding your body’s creation of more of the healthy bacteria it needs. Often times foods that are sourced from animals promote the creation of bacteria in our guts that aren’t naturally there, and often times provide more problems for our stomach than benefits. It has been shown that people leading a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle often have better overall gut health than those leading an omnivorous diet.
Taking control of these few areas of our lives can have a huge impact on our digestive system which can greatly impact our health overall. The fact that twenty million Americans on average each year struggle with chronic digestive diseases means that many of you reading this can relate to the problem! Digestive diseases are one of the nation’s most serious health issues and should be treated just as seriously as any other form of disease. Whether you’re someone who drinks and smokes, or you’re an avid gym goer, there are probably some changes you can make that will greatly impact the health of your stomach, and your body overall. Having a happy and healthy digestive system will help us live happy and healthy lives in the long run and that’s worth making some changes today!