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By Elizabeth Radisson
From time to time, everyone experiences symptoms of indigestion or heartburn. Often, these symptoms occur following a big meal. An estimate five million men in the United States alone are affected by indigestion at one time or another. However, some people experience more frequent digestive problems.
There are a number of steps you can take to improve your digestive health and reduce the chance of indigestion. Here are five specific things that can help.
1. Eat a Diet High in Fiber
Not only will adding plenty of fiber to your diet prevent indigestion, it will also improve your overall digestive health. The modern person eats a diet made up of too much junk food and fast food. In addition, most people eat high-fat meals made of mostly meat. These types of foods only help to worsen episodes of indigestion.
In addition to improving digestion, a high-fiber diet can also aid in preventing heart disease, diabetes, colorectal cancer, hemorrhoids, and a host of other diseases. To increase the amount of fiber in your diet, add more fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grain breads and cereals.
For those that suffer with frequent indigestion, it may also be wise to avoid food that can give you gas, such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, baked beans, and carbonated drinks and sodas. Drinking enough water is also a good idea, as it helps to lubricate the food within the digestive tract, and helps dissolve minerals, vitamins and other nutrients so they are more easily absorbed by your body.
2. Chew your Food
Proper chewing may be one of the most forgotten of all the habits for good digestion. Chewing helps to break down your food, and the motion signals the body to begin to release digestive enzymes. Take the time to ensure that you chew each bite well.
In addition, make sure you don’t overeat. It can be an easy thing to do, especially with the portion sizes doled out in many restaurants. The larger your meal is, the more acid your stomach needs to produce to properly digest the food. In turn, this extra acid can increase the your chances of developing heartburn or indigestion.
3. Exercise Regularly and Avoid Stress
Regular exercise will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle, while improving your digestive health. Regular exercise can help to avoid obesity, which can lead to such digestive problems as diarrhea, stomach pain, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Excess stress can also have a negative effect on your digestion. Stress reduces blood flow to the abdomen. It also can reduce the production of digestive enzymes, which in turn slows the digestive process and can lead to indigestion and heartburn.
4. Don’t Overuse Antacids
When trying to rid yourself of heartburn or indigestion symptoms, you may be tempted to take more than the recommended dose of your favorite anatacid. Stomach acids can sometime reflux, or back up, into the esophagus which causes the burning sensation of indigestion.
Over-the-counter antacids usually work to neutralize stomach acid, but overuse can cause more harm than good. Too much antacid can cause your stomach to lose acidity, which will impair its ability to properly digest your food, and leave you susceptible to bacterial infections.
5. Supplement your Digestive System
Digestive enzyme supplements can be a great way to decrease the occurrence of heartburn. These enzymes are source from plant fiber, and help to enhance your body’s ability to digest food and absorb nutrients.
If you are in poor health, or have an unhealthy diet, you likely do not have adequate amounts of digestive enzymes. Even otherwise healthy people can benefit from digestive supplements, especially if they are experiencing heartburn or indigestion.
While there are certainly other things you can do to reduce your chances of experiencing indigestion, these five will get you well on your way, not only to eliminating your symptoms, but to an overall healthier body.
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