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How To Improve Your Digestive Health

Do you sometimes feel like this?

Do you sometimes feel like this?

Digestive Problems

If you are experiencing heartburn, gas, boating, stomach cramps, constipation, or diarrhea it could mean that your digestive system is not working as healthily as it could or should be.

Eating properly, exercising, maintaining the proper weight, getting the proper amount of sleep, and reducing stress are all factors in maintaining a healthy digestive system.

Eating Healthy Foods

To coin a phrase, "You Are What You Eat", applies to everyone. If you eat junk all the time and don't take care of yourself, over time your health will suffer and this includes your digestive system. Eating healthy foods is the first place to start to improve your digestive health. A well balanced diet that includes dietary fiber, fruits, vegetables, grains and protein is a must.


Getting Enough Fiber Every Day

There are two types of fiber: insoluble fiber that acts as roughage, which helps to regulate bowel movements. Some of the foods that contain this fiber are: whole wheat, corn bran, whole bran, whole grain, brown rice, tomatoes, raisins, broccoli, onions, cabbage and dark leafy vegetables.

The second type of fiber is soluble fiber, which consolidates with water forming a gel, slowing down digestion and making you feel full. This fiber is in foods such as: lentils, dried peas, beans, oatmeal, oat bran, blueberries, strawberries, oranges, apples, cucumbers, carrots and celery.

Most people in general do not have enough fiber in their daily diet. Adults should have at least 35 grams of dietary fiber per day.

Various High Fiber Foods

Please note that the actual grams can vary slightly

FoodMeasurementFiber in Grams

Split Peas

1 cup

16.3

Lentils

1 cup

15.6

Black Beans

1 cup

15.0

Lima Beans

1 cup

13.2

Bran Cereal

1/2 cup

10.4

Artichoke

1 medium

10.3

Peas

1 cup

8.8

Rasberries

1 cup

8.0

Whole Wheat Spaghetti

1 cup

6.2

Pear

1 medium

5.5

Bran Flakes

3/4 cup

5.3

Broccoli

1 cup

5.1

Turnip greens

1 cup

5.0

Apple

1 medium

4.4

Oatmeal

1 cup

4.0

Sweet Corn

1 cup

4.2

Brussels Sprouts

1 cup

4.1

Sunflower seeds

1/4 cup

3.9

Strawberries

1 1/4 cups

3.8

Amonds

1 ounce

3.5

Air popped popcorn

3 cups

3.5

Brown Rice

1 cup

3.5

Orange

1 medium

3.1

Banana

1 medium

3.1

Pistachio Nuts

1 ounce

2.9

Pecan Nuts

1 ounce

2.7

Rye Bread

1 slice

1.9

Whole Wheat or Multi-Grain Bread

1 slice

1.9

Carrot

1 medium

1.7

Heartburn

Heartburn in most cases is acid reflux. This happens when digestive juices or stomach acids in the stomach back up into the esophagus causing a burning sensation. If you frequently suffer from heartburn it is best to discuss this with your family doctor or a health care provider.

Foods to Avoid if You Suffer from Heartburn

  • Greasy, fried and fatty foods
  • Spicy Foods
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Chocolate
  • Desserts that are rich in butter
  • Peppermint
  • Any foods that are acidic such as tomatoes
  • Citrus fruits and juices
  • Caffeinated drinks
  • Alcoholic beverages

Remedies and Ways to Avoid Heartburn

  • Chewing antacids such as Rolaids, Maalox or Tums is fine for occasional heartburn.
  • While eating a meal have a glass of water mixed with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.
  • Don't smoke, and avoid smoke filled rooms.
  • Eat at least 3 hours before going to bed.
  • Check with your doctor if you are taking any medications, as this could be the cause of your. heartburn.
  • When lifting anything be sure to bend at the knees. Bending over can cause the acid in your stomach to be forced upwards.
  • Avoid lying flat, and elevate the head of your bed 4-6".
  • Try to avoid stress.


Healing Your Heartburn

Gas and Bloating

The average person will pass gas 20 times a day either by burping or via flatulence. We get gas by swallowing air when eating or drinking, which will sometimes go into the small or large intestine. The only way for it to leave is to be released by flatulence. Eating carbohydrates and not having enough enzymes to aid in digesting them will cause the food to go from the small intestine to the large intestine undigested. Bacteria then goes to work which in turn causes gas.

One of the symptoms of gas is a bloated feeling and can cause stomach cramps. If this is happening quite often, one should seek medical advice as it could be a sign of a serious medical problem that needs to be treated.

Foods that Can Cause Gas and Ways to Avoid Gas

Beans, brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli and apples are among some of the food that may cause you to have gas.

You may find you are lactose intolerant and have to cut out all dairy products.

Ways to try to Avoid Gas

  • Eat smaller meals more frequently. Don't inhale the food, eat slowly.
  • Avoid eating high fat meals and snacks.
  • Cut back on your salt intake.
  • Figure out what foods are causing the gas and avoid them.
  • There are over-the-counter medications that you can purchase but again check with your doctor to rule out any serious problems.


For Gas and Bloating

Constipation

Having a bowl movement less than three times a week can be a sign of constipation. Some people have daily movements and others every second day. If the stools are small, hard and dry, and cause you pain when you go to the bathroom chances are that this is due to:

  • Diet
  • Medications
  • Not enough exercise
  • Pregnancy
  • Dehydration
  • Age
  • Problems in the colon or other medical issues

Treating Constipation

If this is not an ongoing issue there are ways in which you can treat constipation.

  • Add more fiber to your diet
  • Drink more water
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol
  • Exercise

Constipation can be caused by diseases or other medical problems.



Diarrhea

Diarrhea is loose or watery bowel movements that is caused by a stomach flu, and can last a few days. Other causes include: Food poisoning, medications, too much fiber in your diet, allergies to certain foods, consuming too much alcohol, radiation therapy or an underlying medical condition that may be serious. If you experience diarrhea for more than a few days and it is accompanied by a fever, vomiting, pain, blood in the stool or sudden weight loss you should immediately seek medical attention.

Treating Diarrhea

Over the counter medications are available.

Drink plenty of fluids such as water, fruit juices, broth to avoid dehydration.

Avoid caffeine.

Probiotics, which are added to some yogurts, juices and snacks have been know to help treat diarrhea. Check with your doctor to see how much you should consume.



Your Health

Eating properly, adding the right amount of fiber to your daily diet along with exercise will help in achieving a healthy digestive system.

Thank you for visiting, and if you'd like to read more HubPage articles by Just Ask Susan, please visit my profile page. Have a great day!

© 2012 Susan Zutautas

Comments

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on October 10, 2013:

Crafty, I hope that the links helped and hope that your daughter is doing better.

CraftytotheCore on October 08, 2013:

Great Hub! I've started incorporating more protein from nuts in my diet. I make homemade trail mail now with dried fruit, and an assortment of almonds, cashews, honey roasted peanuts. Eating it as a snack helps me stop craving sweets which I used to divulge in daily.

I also want to thank you for those emails! I looked at all the links you sent me. Thank you so much for taking the time to do that.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on February 14, 2013:

Thank you sasta, Hope that you're feeling better soon.

sasta10 from Manchester, UK on February 13, 2013:

A great hub and thanks for the list of high fiber food. I was looking for some tips as I am going through some health problems. Thanks for sharing.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on November 24, 2012:

sfrentz, Thanks so much.

sfrentz06 from Sterling Heights, MI, USA on November 23, 2012:

Very useful hub. Glad you posted this!

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on November 15, 2012:

Natashalh, Yes it is sad as you'd think peppermint would sooth heartburn.

Natasha from Hawaii on November 14, 2012:

Peppermint can exacerbate heartburn? That's sad.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on November 14, 2012:

Judi, Thanks for sharing.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on November 14, 2012:

Janis, Thank you glad you found it to be a helpful hub.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on November 14, 2012:

GoodLady, So glad that you found this hub useful. Thank you for reading and for commenting.

Judi Brown from UK on November 13, 2012:

I've got a few friends who seem to experience ongoing stomach problems, so I'll share this, thanks.

Janis Goad on November 13, 2012:

Drinking lots of water really does help--64 fluid ounces daily, in addition to whatever else you drink. Exercise helps--the deep breathing stimulates the intestines and colon through the massage effect of the diaphragm and abdominal muscles. Yogic twists and inversions are really effective for digestive health.

Thanks for sharing this, Susan. It's a helpful hub.

Penelope Hart from Rome, Italy on November 13, 2012:

I don't have heartburn but I'm slow to metabolize. Diet and the right balance is so important isn't it, getting those pulces in. This is such a helpful hub. I had no idea that we pass gas 20 times a day. Must tell my son who loves farting that it's quite normal after all!!!

Thanks.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 17, 2012:

raciniwa, Thank you. I too have to watch what I eat because of heartburn.

raciniwa from Talisay City, Cebu on June 17, 2012:

what a great and useful hub Susan...i used to experience heartburn...change in eating habit of course is the cure...

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 08, 2012:

Thanks Alex.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 04, 2012:

Lela, Heartburn can be a pain, hope that some of these tips help Bob.

Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on June 03, 2012:

Now I know why Bob has so much trouble with heartburn. I'll try to get him to try these tips. Thanks!

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 02, 2012:

kjzeek, Nice to meet you and thanks. Yes a fairly new hub.

kjrzeek1 from New Jersey, USA on June 01, 2012:

Nice hub. I make a mean split pea soup, and it is so good for you. New hub?

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 01, 2012:

Arieanna, Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Glad to know that lifting weights aided in getting your digestive health back on track.

Arieanna on June 01, 2012:

Your tips on are point. For a long time, I seemed to be eating all the right things like drinking half my weight in ounces of water per day and eating fruits and vegetables and was still constipated until I started lifting weights at the gym. That exercise seemed to be what I was missing and what put my digestive health on track.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 30, 2012:

Tina, That's a funny saying, but it does make sense.

Glad you liked the hub and thank you.

Christina Lornemark from Sweden on May 29, 2012:

Interesting and very good information You have covered the subject so well!

A Swedish professor is said to have created the saying, ”a good bowel movement is the best pillow”! It makes sense since it is hard to sleep with a bad digestive health:) Brilliant hub Susan, I am sure many will benefit from this hub!

Tina

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 29, 2012:

Kevin, I didn't know about cloves but thank you for adding that.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 29, 2012:

sholland, Thank you. My husband calls me the turtle when it comes to eating. He'll have his first plate of food eaten and be on his second helping when I'm only 1/2 way through my dinner.

Alex Jose from Cleveland, Ohio on May 28, 2012:

Really health is something that everyone is looking forward to these days and this certain hub is exactly perfectly describing it...loved it so i vote for a thumbs up.

KevinMillican from Stilwell, OK on May 28, 2012:

Did anyone mention that cloves is a natural laxative for constipation?

Susan Holland from Southwest Missouri on May 28, 2012:

Susan, this is great research and helpful to so many. I love your layout, and believe the chart is informative and interesting for a guide on what to eat and how much fiber it includes. Personally, I keep Maalox on hand. As you stated, we need to slow down when we eat. It not only helps our digestion, but it also makes us feel full faster. As a teacher with a 22 minute lunch period, eating slow is a hard one for me to master. Great hub! Votes and shares! :-)

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 27, 2012:

tillsontitan, Thanks so much.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 27, 2012:

Thank you pandula.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 27, 2012:

Peanutritious, I would find it very difficult to give up cheese, and hope I never have to. Thanks for stopping by and for your comments.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 27, 2012:

Thanks Sharyn, and glad you found some fiber ideas.

Mary Craig from New York on May 27, 2012:

Good information and covered well. People have so many ailments and don't know what cause them. You have pinpointed some of the few that are more common than many realize. Voted up.

Dr Pandula from Norway on May 27, 2012:

Thanks for sharing such valuable information. Its great to find almost all the answers for most digestive problems in one place. Voted up!

Tara Carbery from Cheshire, UK on May 27, 2012:

An informative article. I have been a vegetarian for almost 30 years so eat very healthily but get cramps and wind when I've had lots of pulses, milk or cheese. I think I'm lactose intolerant but love cheese too much to cut it out altogether! I just try to only have it every now and again. I just have to hope that when the wind strikes, it's a night my partner is working a night shift!!!

Sharon Smith from Northeast Ohio USA on May 26, 2012:

Speaking of "you are what you eat." Does that mean I am a "hot fry?" Hmmmm . . . great research here Susan. And I love the chart because it includes so many more fiber ideas that just "cereal" which is the first thing that I think of.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 25, 2012:

vocalcoach, Thank you, glad you found this useful.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on May 24, 2012:

These Tips are so helpful Susan. You have given information that goes beyond a "Doctors Visit." I especially like knowing preventative measures. Voted up and across, but not funny!~

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 23, 2012:

Hi Jan,

Sorry to read that you have coelaic disease. Glad that you liked the hub and thanks for letting me know.

Take care

Janhorner on May 23, 2012:

Hello,

Your article is really good and informative. I have coelaic disease and sometimes it's a bit of a nuisance. Your article has provided lots of info on a healthy life style and I loved the table.

thanks Jan

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 21, 2012:

Thank you indesign.

indesign on May 20, 2012:

Hi Susan, Nice tips and and great information. Thanks for this awesome hub.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 20, 2012:

Sue, Thanks and I hope you're having a nice Victoria Day weekend too.

Sueswan on May 20, 2012:

Hi Susan,

Great advice and tips. This one was easy to digest. ;)

Hope you are enjoying the long weekend. :)

Voted up and awesome.

Daffy Duck on May 19, 2012:

I like to take vanilla ice cream and mix it with peanut butter. Sometimes I'll add some chocolate sauce on top.

You're welcome! :)

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 19, 2012:

Daffy, I know I'd be lost without garlic and onions ... they're a staple and used almost everyday in my cooking. I used to eat chocolate ice cream with peanut butter right out of the jar added to it, Haven't done that in awhile. Thanks for reminding me :)

Daffy Duck from Cornelius, Oregon on May 19, 2012:

Fried foods, garlic, onions, chocolate, butter rich desserts, foods with tomatoes--spaghetti, caffinated drinks. If I get heart burn I might as well kill myself. :)

I put onions in almost every protein and pasta. I use tomatoes and garlic in spaghetti and eat pizza. Pies are so delicious. Peanut butter without chocolate. What's the point in living? Soda twice a week and with pizza once a month.

I choose death! LOL!

I have to admit this is a very useful, and depressing hub. :)

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 18, 2012:

Thanks so much Brenda, I'm glad you liked it. I would rather fix any problems when it comes to health the natural way rather than buying an over the counter product if it can be helped.

Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on May 18, 2012:

Hello Susan. Many people can benefit from this Hub. One day at the local pharmacy, I saw an entire row of products designed to fix these problems. I do believe most can be-er-eliminated with proper diet. I am a fan of fiber and tout the health aspects to everyone I can. Many feel they don't have time to eat well but the consequences of a poor diet are serious. Thanks for educating us on the issue. You did it well and in an interesting manner.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 18, 2012:

Thank you Alicia.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 18, 2012:

Golfgal, Thank you. Acid reflux is nasty.

Pamela, Thank you. I have a huge container of flax seed and do the same thing.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 18, 2012:

Thank you writer20, glad you liked it.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 18, 2012:

Ruby, Chocolate does that to me too. At Christmas when I make shortbread I have to be careful not to overindulge as brings on heartburn so quickly.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 18, 2012:

barbergirl, Kelly and Lesley, Thank you.

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 18, 2012:

Cardisa and RH

Thank you both, and I'm glad you found this informative.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 17, 2012:

Thanks for the useful information, Susan. Your tips could be very helpful for someone suffering from digestive problems!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 17, 2012:

Excellent hub on digestive health. I have found adding a little ground flax seed to cereal or on a salad prevents constipation. Awesome hub.

Golfgal from McKinney, Texas on May 17, 2012:

Hey Susan, Nice job covering a subject so near and dear to our....well you know. smiles. Acid relux can also give signs of heart attack. I had this just recently. I truly appreciate the contents. That no-no list is everything I eat. Shucks.

Joyce Haragsim from Southern Nevada on May 17, 2012:

Great hub thank you for doing such good research for all your hubbers.

Voted up useful and interesting.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on May 17, 2012:

I am not having any problems with digestion now, but i have in the past. I still am bothered when i eat too much chocolate. ( I love it ) Thank's for a great hub..

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 17, 2012:

Angela, Thank you. I'd forgotten about BRAT food, thanks for adding that.

Movie Master from United Kingdom on May 17, 2012:

Hi Susan, a very helpful and useful hub.

Thank you and voted up

kelleyward on May 17, 2012:

Susan, Great hub packed with useful information! Thanks for sharing this! Voted up and useful! Take care, Kelley

Stacy Harris from Hemet, Ca on May 17, 2012:

Great research on a "shitty" topic! Ha ha - sorry couldn't resist. Luckily, I am not ailing from any of these currently. Which is a good thing... because I enjoy my alcohol and soda way too much! Great hub and you can really tell you did your work. Although - I never knew that tomotoes were considered a fiber. We learn something new every day!

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on May 17, 2012:

This is very informative! I do know someone who has terrible issues - I'm so excited to pass this along. I bet a few of the tips - are really going to help. It's a friend of mine (on FB too) and I know she has a terrible diet! I've been telling her this stuff - maybe she will hear you!

Thank you!

Carolee Samuda from Jamaica on May 17, 2012:

Susan, this is truly awesome. You have covered bowel problems very well. In most cases these problems are caused through poor diet or indigestion as in the case of gas. Thanks for a very informative hub.

Kaili Bisson from Canada on May 17, 2012:

Hi Susan...excellent info here, a one stop-shop for all things digestion related. Thank you for sharing!

Susan Zutautas (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 17, 2012:

Bill, Glad to hear your not having any digestive problems, and thank you.

Rebecca, Thanks so much!

TToombs, I used to get heartburn all the time, and learned that I had to stay away from rich foods.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on May 17, 2012:

Thank you Dr. JustaskSusan, this is actually very helpful.. and considerate.. bless you Frank

Hubert Williams on May 17, 2012:

Very helpful hub. Thank you. Voted up interesting useful

Angela Michelle Schultz from United States on May 16, 2012:

Very informative, great topic. Also to treat diarrhea, you want to eat BRAT foods, that's Banana, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. This foods will bulk up the stool.

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on May 16, 2012:

Great hub and very helpful. I, for one, will be following the advice on heartburn. :)

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on May 16, 2012:

Great advise! I think that we all get digestive problems more often than we want to admit. You have outlined the signs and symptoms so well. Thanks, voted up and useful!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 16, 2012:

Well, gratefully, I'm not experiencing any of those things, but great hub and well-researched. If I ever do have any of those symptoms I know where to turn for info.

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