3 Ways to Help Your Digestive System Run Smoothly

Are you dealing with your own stomach troubles? Adopt these three tips for digestive success.

The Key Ingredient

The first step to a happy stomach is to examine your diet. And for more people that means making sure you’re eating a balanced diet with plenty of fiber, which will keep your digestive system moving efficiently, says Elizabeth Odstrcil, M.D., a gastroenterologist on the medical staff at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.

“Choose foods like green vegetables, corn and beans,” she says. For fiber-rich fruits, opt for raspberries, pears and apples.

Just how much fiber do you need? Women should aim for 25 grams each day, while men should get 38 grams, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. That’s not hard to do if you incorporate whole grains, plenty of produce and beans into your daily diet.

Just Add Water

Think of water as the oil that greases your digestive system’s wheels. “Dehydration leads to constipation and a lot of other gastrointestinal issues,” Dr. Odstrcil says.

Keep this in mind, too: The adage of drinking either glasses of water a day may not apply to you. Talk to your doctor about the specific amount you need, and look beyond the glass. Lettuce, watermelon, grapefruit, broccoli, and low-fat milk and yogurt can help you get the fluids you need with a little flavor.

Sit Back and Relax

“There’s a strong connection between the brain and the gut,” Dr. Odstrcil says. For people with digestive problems, such as Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome or ulcers, anxiety only fans the flames of discomfort. But even those without a chronic condition can experience constipation or diarrhea when under too much pressure.

Since it’s virtually impossible to avoid stress in this day and age, it’s important to arm yourself with the tools to combat it. Exercising, eating well and getting enough sleep can all contribute to a calmer you.

Take it a step further by meditating, practicing deep breathing techniques and making time for the things you live, whether that’s reading, scrapbooking or soccer. You (and your stomach) will be glad you did.

If you have unexplained digestive symptoms, talk to your doctor.

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3 Ways to Help Your Digestive System Run Smoothly