Keeping Your Digestive Tract Healthy
Simple Tips to Maintaining Healthy Digestion
Your digestive tract is an important, but under-looked system in your body. Everything we eat gets digested, and it is through digestion that we absorb nutrients. Keeping our digestive tracts healthy is an important way to keep our bodies healthier longer. Follow these tips to keep your digestion running smoothly:
- Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Be adventurous, and eat a variety of fruits and vegetables in any form – canned, fresh, frozen or dried. Aim for adequate amounts of folate and beta-carotene, which are easily obtained from fruits and vegetables.
- Choose whole grains more often. The new labeling of "whole grains" on packages can help you pick these good grains more often. Then also check the amount of fiber the product contains. Try to choose items with at least 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving for the best benefit.
- Limit consumption of beef, pork, lamb and processed meats. Choose poultry or fish more frequently, if you eat meat. Smaller portions of meat, consumed less often (a 12-ounce porter house is really three servings, not one) are also beneficial. Most people do not need to consume more than six to eight ounces of meat daily.
- Use healthier cooking methods more often. Steaming, poaching, stewing, microwaving, braising and boiling can prevent carcinogen development. If you are grilling, you can remove skin on chicken or fish to reduce exposure.
- Aim for adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D. If you choose to consume more than two or three servings of dairy every day as a source of calcium, you will want to choose low-fat versions. You may also consider purchasing hormone-free products. 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure (without a sunscreen) two times per week is adequate to maintain vitamin D levels.
- Get active. You should get at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity most days of the week. 45 to 60 minutes is preferred for most individuals.
- Maintain a healthy weight. By keeping your weight in a healthy range, you will reduce your risk for many diseases and cardiac issues.
- More does not always mean better. Remember, large doses of nutrients or more calories do not mean a better chance at fighting disease. The best we can currently say is moderation, variety and balance defend our bodies best.
- Consider growing a garden. Let’s face it—fruits and vegetables aren’t getting any cheaper. This year, try planting four or five of your favorites. Not only will it help you eat healthier, you can get some exercise and vitamin D while you are outside. You could even trade your extras with neighbors and friends who have gardens to improve the variety of your produce.