10 Ways to Support Your Immune and Digestive Health
Your digestive system, or gut, is a complex system of organs that does much more than turn the food that you eat into the energy your body needs. Your digestive system also plays a role in a variety of bodily functions beyond digestion, including immune system support. So even if you don't suffer from occasional digestive problems like constipation or diarrhea, maintaining a healthy digestive system can be an important factor to a healthy you. We've put together some healthy tips and natural immune boosters that you can incorporate into your daily routine.
Eat Fiber-Rich Foods
Most American's don't get enough fiber in their diet but fiber keeps your digestive system running smoothly. Increase your fiber intake by eating unprocessed and fiber-rich foods like aloe vera, berries or apples, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains instead. By adding these foods to your diet, you are more likely to stay regular, boost good bacteria, and guard against illnesses.
Drink More Water
Getting enough water is important for a healthy lifestyle. Water is attracted to fiber and helps it pass through the digestive tract. Most people need about eight, eight-ounce glasses of water each day. To help increase your intake, keep a water bottle with you at work and in the car. If you think water is a little boring on its own, add a little flavor to your water with a slice of lemon or cucumber. (To cover both fiber and water in one serving, try our aloe water, available in a selection of delicious flavors!)
Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight but moving your body through regular exercise has another health benefit. Regular excercise can help your body move things through the digestive system to eliminate waste.
Eat Small - Chew Big
Avoid overloading your digestive system by eating too much, too fast. Eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day and don't forget to chew your food slowly and thoroughly! This way, the food you eat will be ready to move through the digestive system properly.
Probiotics are living microorganisms like the good bacteria that live naturally in your digestive tract. Those good bacteria help to support digestive health. You can help replenish your body's good bacteria and support digestive and immune health by taking a daily probiotic supplement.
Kick the Habit
Smoking is the leading cause of cancer and damages nearly every organ of the body. But if you need another reason to give cigarettes the old heave-ho, here's one that'll literally give you indigestion: Smoking can harm all parts of the digestive system and may contribute to heartburn and peptic ulcers. Everyone responds differently to various quitting methods, so talk to your doctor about the one that's right for you.
Fill Up on Fish
Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, tuna, mackerel, and herring may increase your body's "good" cholesterol. According to the World Gastroenterological Organization, eating oily fish three to five times per week may help support digestive health, too.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
Excessive alcohol can inflame the stomach lining, interfere with nutrient absorption and cause digestive health problems. Regular heavy drinking can also damage your pancreas, which is a large gland located behind the stomach that secretes digestive enzymes into the small intestine to help your body digest fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
Reduce Fatty Foods
Eating too much fat may contribute to heart disease and weight gain. But there's another reason to cut back on high-fat foods: fat slows digestion and gives food more time to ferment, which can cause intestinal gas. The USDA's dietary reference intake for fat in adults is 20-35% of total calories. That means if you consume 2,000 calories a day, you should only eat around 56 to 77 grams or less of fat per day.
Get Rid of Stress
Researchers at the Ohio State University College of Medicine observed medical students over the course of 10 years and found that their immunity went down each year due to stress during the three-day exam period. So the next time you're feeling stressed, try any activity that calms your nerves whether it's yoga, meditation, or even a game of basketball with friends.
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