Keep Your Digestion Running Smoothly

Keep Your Digestion Running Smoothly

According to recent reports, more than 30 million Americans are living with digestive symptoms like diarrhea, gas, bloating, and abdominal pain. It's clear that many of us could use some digestive support. Rather than reaching for over-the-counter drugs, which can actually make indigestion worse, try natural remedies to aid digestion.

Start by examining your diet. Limit greasy, high-fat foods, which can cause acid reflux and heartburn. Coffee, chocolate, alcohol, and carbonated beverages may also trigger indigestion. Fiber is essential for keeping your digestion running smoothly, so enjoy a wholesome diet packed with fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and legumes. Eat slowly, and reduce your portion sizes. You may tolerate five or six small meals a day better than three large meals.

Avoid vigorous exercise after eating, but resist the urge to plop down on the couch -- a 15-minute walk after a meal can speed digestion and reduce bloating.

A few key supplements can also offer digestive support:

Hydrochloric acid (HCl): Rather than too much acid, a more common cause of indigestion is a lack of gastric acid secretion. Bloating, belching, diarrhea, and constipation are signs that you may benefit from HCl. HCl supplementation can completely relieve indigestion in many individuals. It usually requires trial and error to determine the proper dosage, so be sure to follow label directions to find what works for you.

Digestive enzymes: A lack of digestive enzymes from the pancreas is another common cause of indigestion. Digestive enzymes help the body naturally break down the foods you eat, particularly foods that are notoriously difficult to digest like dairy, cruciferous veggies, and legumes. Enzyme production naturally decreases as we age, which is why many people tend to have more digestive issues as they get older. Look for individual enzyme formulas as well as products that contain a variety of digestive enzymes, including cellulase, amylase, lipase, bromelain, papain, and protease.

Probiotics: Maintaining a healthy balance of intestinal flora is critical for a healthy digestive system. Probiotics show promise for relieving diarrhea in children, traveler's diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome. Make yogurt part of your everyday diet, and look for probiotic supplements containing bacterial strains like L. acidophilus and L. bulgaricus to not only support the digestive tract but also aid nutrient absorption.

Your digestive system mirrors your state of mind, which is why relaxation techniques can be very effective for reducing indigestion. In addition to consuming a healthy diet and incorporating supportive supplements, consider yoga, meditation, and other stress-busters to help improve digestion and relieve digestive distress.

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