Happy New Year!
Another year is upon us and a fresh start is right around the corner. Are you searching for the perfect New Year’s resolution that will really make a difference? Let’s start with your gut. Maybe it’s not the most popular resolution out here, but improving and maintaining your digestive system may be one of the most important things you can do for your overall health.
To that end, we’ve put together five simple—yet effective—measures you can take to help ensure proper digestive health in the new year ahead.
- Increase water intake daily. Nature has blessed us with water, but we frequently ignore it in favor of sweetened drinks, alcohol or coffee. Constipation, diarrhea and weight gain are just a few digestive issues that are in part caused by lack of water intake. Aim for at least six to eight cups of water daily and you will begin to see the difference.
- Consume probiotics. The market for probiotics has exploded in recent years. Probiotics are your gut’s best friends. You may not realize it, but there are billions and billions of bacteria that line our digestive tract and when the bad ones take over, chaos ensues. Consuming probiotics in pill, food or beverage form will keep your gut as balanced as possible and ensure the good guys always in. They’re cheap, found in many foods and beverages and carried at all major food markets.
- Have a high-fiber diet, especially breakfast. A high-fiber breakfast doesn’t need to be difficult or time-consuming and can help keep you regular. Fresh fruits, oatmeal, bran cereals, and flax seeds are excellent choices to start your day off on the right foot.
- Slow down during meals. More often than not, people rush through their meals. However, downing a cheeseburger in five minutes—or even rushing through a healthy salad—is a surefire way to upset your digestive system in one way or another. It results in overeating and suffering the consequences of weight gain, bloating, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Instead, meals should be spaced out over 20 minutes—the time it takes our body to tell our brains we are full.
- Avoid trigger foods. Many of us live with allergies. Whether the allergies are digestive related (lactose intolerance/gluten sensitivity) or seasonal, they can get the best of us, which is why staying away from trigger foods is a must. Do you know for sure that milk will give you cramps and bloating? Then opt for a lactose-free product. Do fried foods trigger your inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) symptoms? Try baked products instead.
Above all, managing your digestive health should always be done under the guidance of a physician to ensure it’s done safely and efficiently. If you need help getting your digestive system back on track this year, contact a specialist at Gastroenterology Associates of New Jersey (GANJ) today!