Stomach troubles are not uncommon, in fact, most of us have experienced digestive problems during our life. While unpleasant, digestive problems are often a reminder to pay attention to health habits that can make the process of digestion much easier. Healthy lifestyle habits play a significant role in our digestive health. Here's what you need to know to keep your stomach happy!
Eat Plenty of Fiber
Fiber is one of the most important nutrients you need in your diet. It helps keep your digestive system regular, which promotes a healthy digestive system and protects against colon cancer. It is especially helpful in lowering and managing cholesterol and blood sugar. Fiber is also beneficial in weight management since it can help you feel full longer between meals and prevents significant surges and crashes in blood sugar levels.
So how much fiber do you need? Men ages 50 and under should get at least 38 grams of dietary fiber each day and women ages 50 and under should get at least 25 grams per day. Men over 50 need at least 30 grams per day and women over 50 need at least 21 grams. Here are some healthy, fiber-rich foods to add to your diet. Learn more about the benefits of a high-fiber diet.
Water is essential to good digestion and helps to rid the body of toxins. Drinking eight (8-ounce) glasses of water each day is a good rule of thumb, however factors like exercise, illness and any medical conditions can vary your personal needs. Drink enough fluid so that you don't feel thirsty.
Try Prebiotics and Probiotics
These types of "good bacteria" help stimulate your digestive system and keep unhealthy bacteria at bay. Certain brands of yogurt contain prebiotics and probiotics or live, active cultures which promote healthy bacteria in the intestine. Look for this wording on the container to ensure your yogurt contains these ingredients.
Manage Your Weight
People who are overweight are at an increased risk of digestive problems, like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gallstones, liver diseases and more. Stay active and eat healthy to manage or lower your weight.
Avoid Excess Dietary Fat
Fattening foods can slow the digestive process, which increases your risk of digestive problems. Stick to a low-fat diet with plenty of fiber, and replace unhealthy fats with healthier ones like nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocados and fatty fish, like salmon.
Have Preventive Health Screenings
As you age, your risk of developing colon cancer also increases. A colonoscopy is an effective tool in detecting colon cancer and pre-cancerous polyps. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi's Healthy You! wellness benefit provides this screening to covered members age 50 and older. For more information about screenings available to members with the Healthy You! benefit, see the Healthy You! Wellness Guide.
A healthy digestive system is extremely important and can affect your overall health. Take steps today to keep your digestive system running smoothly!