[Guest Post by Rob Smith]
Many people struggle with digestive problems, and often get conflicting advice as to the best ways to resolve them.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the more common problems, and consider exercise as a potential solution.
Specifically, we’ll cover:
- Common digestive problems
- Exercises to help digestion
- How it fits with a healthy diet
3 Ways to Help Digestion [Video]
It’s frustrating when your body doesn’t tolerate healthy foods like vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds, but don’t give up on healthy eating!
There are some methods, supplements, and exercises that can help you digest your food and I explain them all in this video.
The Digestive System and Common Complaints
The digestive system is a complex set of interconnected organs that work together to process the food we consume, breaking it down into nutrients which then get absorbed by our body and carried to our cells to use for energy, growth, and repair.
Digestion starts as soon as you put food into your mouth, passing through the GI tract, and then mixes with digestive juices that break down the food into molecules. The food that doesn’t get absorbed by the body passes through and out of our body as waste products.
But for lots of people, it isn’t that simple.
According to the American Nutrition Association, 70,000,000 people experience digestive problems such as heartburn, IBS, constipation, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, every day.
There are several reasons that people suffer from digestive problems, namely the typical western diet of cooked and processed foods that are full of depleted enzymes, which battle with the already limited supply of enzymes our body produces.
Many people turn to medication for help with their digestive systems, but is there a more natural way we can combat these issues?
Could exercise be part of the solution?
It is well understood that exercise in general, is good for you; whether you are interested in weight loss, stronger muscles or overall fitness.
But its benefits also extend far beyond these and could include helping to create a healthier digestive system.
Different types of exercise will have different effects on the digestive system:
- Exercises like cycling can help with the heartburn, reducing its symptoms and effects on the body
- Lighter exercises, like breathing exercises, can be beneficial for those with bowel movement issues, such as constipation, diarrhea, and IBS
Exercise doesn’t have to be intense to have an effect; as little as 15 minutes a day of effort can do wonders for your digestive system.
Exercises to Help Digestion
Exercises that target the abdominal muscles are considered beneficial, but there are a range of exercises you can do that don’t fall into the intense aerobic or cardio categories that can benefit your overall health and digestive system, as a whole:
- Walking – After eating, it is common to not want to exercise or move too far from the couch. However, a short 15-minute walk can do wonders for your digestive system. Walking speeds up the rate at which food moves through the stomach and stimulates your midsection, giving your body that extra boost that it needs while digesting food faster.
- Yoga – Yoga is a brilliant form of exercise, and can be as intense as you want to make it. Even if you’re new to yoga, you can still reap the benefits and use simple techniques, such as a yoga block, to ease yourself into the exercises. Yoga starts off with deep breathing to relax the mind and body. Particular yoga sequences can be followed to stimulate your abdominal organs, as well as massaging and toning them at the same time.
- Bodyweight exercises – Any form of exercise is good for your digestive system, as long as it’s lightweight and not too intense. Performing regular bodyweight exercises (like planks, sit-ups) can help to not only strengthen your core muscles but also act in a similar way to yoga where your abdominal muscles are being toned and massaged through low-intensity
- Qigong breathing – Tai Chi and Qigong Breathing are combined methods of Qi exercise known to gently massage internal organs and promote the stimulation of blood circulation and healthy digestion. The exercises relax the body which in turn improves microcirculation, enhancing the body to absorb nutrients in a more effective manner through digestion.
Don’t Overlook Your Diet
While exercise can certainly help your digestion, it won’t overcome a really poor diet.
Aiming for a balanced diet is key when it comes to healthy digestion; avoid unhealthy fats and fried foods, spicy foods, and dairy products, which are all common factors in digestive problems.
Foods such as yogurts, which contain healthy bacteria, can aid in better digestion. Vegetables can also be used in a similar way to speed up weight loss. You should also look to include lean meats, fish, and whole grains when you are aiming for a healthy digestive system.
[You might be able to tolerate healthy foods better by taking natural digestive enzymes with your meal.]
Ultimately diet affects different people in different ways, so if you are experiencing problems, it’s a good idea to keep a food diary to help you understand what is causing it.
Start Making Changes for a Healthier You
Looking after your digestive system is very important for your overall health; feeling bloated, in pain, or generally uncomfortable does not make for an enjoyable day.
It can be hard to resist temptation in the modern world, with the abundance of food and treats available, and everything at our fingertips. However, it is essential that we implement simple lifestyle changes that can benefit your body and your future.
Introduce a balanced diet, with light exercise, to ensure that your digestive system remains as fit and healthy as your body; 15-30 minutes each day of looking after yourself will give you a lifetime of enjoyment, without the worry that your digestive system is going to ruin it.
Rob Smith runs 500 Calorie Fitness, where he discusses how intermittent fasting can be used in parallel with home workout equipment and exercises for a healthier, well-rounded lifestyle.
Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.