The Importance of Digestive Health and Probiotics by Keri Glassman

The Importance of Digestive Health and Probiotics

By Keri Glassman, founder and president of Keri Glassman, Nutritious Life; Author of The O2 Diet and The Snack Factor Diet

Most of us know that eating right is just one component of overall health; however, many don’t realize that what we eat affects our digestive systems, which can have a significant impact on overall well-being. In fact, a lot of the steps we take to stay healthy overall — such as exercising, minimizing stress, getting adequate sleep, and drinking plenty of fluids — may be linked to good digestive health.

Why is digestive health so important? For starters, the digestive system is where vitamins, nutrients and minerals are absorbed. Unfortunately, factors such as stress, lack of sleep, antibiotics, illness, aging, and poor diet choices can often lead to an imbalance of the bacteria in our digestive tract. 

Maintaining a healthy digestive system can be quite challenging, especially as we get older. Consuming an abundance of rich and indulgent foods may compromise our digestive health by flooding our bodies with large amounts of fat and sugar. High fat foods not only stay in the digestive system longer, but they cause more stomach acid to be produced which can also lead to gastric reflux. Processed foods also become more challenging for your digestive system with age, so try to avoid these. 

The good news is, there are many steps we can take we can take to improve our digestive health, including easy changes to the foods we buy and eat. Simple steps for a healthier digestive system include: 

  • Eat until you’re satisfied, not stuffed. When eating a snack or meal, the goal is to feel satiated (the feeling when hunger goes away), not full or uncomfortable. Foods that contain whole grains will help you achieve this feeling while also delivering a strong dose of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Try adding a helping of vegetables to round out a healthy meal without adding a lot of calories. 
  • Drink lots of fluids. Fluids can help ease the passage of food through the digestive tract. Drink at least one glass of water at every meal. If you’re tired of plain water, add slices of lemons or oranges, or whole berries to pack a punch of flavor without extra calories.  
  • Incorporate healthy bacteria in your diet. Factors such as stress, lack of sleep, antibiotics, illness, aging, and poor diet choices can often lead to an imbalance of your digestive tract bacteria. Certain probiotics, mostly found in dairy products and some fortified cereals, can help to maintain the balance of “good” bacteria in the digestive tract. Try having yogurt with probiotics every day, such as Activia. Activia is made with the exclusive probiotic culture, Bifidus Regularis® (Bifidobacterium lactis DN-173 010) and help naturally regulate your digestive system when consumed daily for two weeks as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.
  • Get moving. Regular exercise, including taking a walk after a meal, is a great way to keep your digestive tract on track. Be sure to stay hydrated before, during, and after a vigorous workout.  
  • Understand the gut-brain connection. The “gut feeling” isn’t just a myth; the gut and brain are closely connected, and if you’re feeling stressed, angry, or nervous, it can affect your digestive system. To maintain good digestive health, try to find ways to stay relaxed and stress-free. 

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