Everyone knows the digestive system is crucial to human functioning. What many may not know is that its organs are each responsible for specific facets of intricate processes, and that an imbalance in one can impact the others — including causing acute and chronic conditions alike.
Women of all ages suffer from digestive issues, and such problems can result from a nearly endless list of causes. Some of the most common stem from nutrition, lifestyle factors, stress, age, and dehydration, but others may come from genetics. The good news is that many such issues can be healed by restoring the digestive system to its proper balance.
This guide will help you understand what causes digestive system problems as well as the steps you can take to heal yours naturally.
The Digestive System’s Impacts
Your digestive system plays an important role in your survival as a human being. It takes in and breaks down food, for example, ensuring the food you consume are able to be transferred from whole food items to the nutrients and minerals your body needs to function. Different organs are crucial to different parts of the process, from chewing and swallowing to absorbing important nutrients and creating waste.
Improper functioning shows itself in many ways, though. Some of the most common causes of digestive issues include:
- Bacteria or infections
- Imbalances from medications or taking too many supplements
- Chronic medical conditions
- Poor nutrition habits
- Changes in diet or exercise
- Lack of sleep
- Stress, especially chronic stress
The symptoms of digestive issues are less pleasant, but often include bloating, gas, abdominal pain, and stomach fullness as well as diarrhea or oily stools. If they go unchecked and untreated, such issues can get worse and may even lead to chronic digestive problems such as constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, and more.
7 Natural Ways to Heal Your Digestive System
A balanced digestive system is important for overall health and wellness. There are many options that are completely natural and lifestyle-based that can help you improve the function of yours, so consider trying the following:
1. Add probiotics to your diet.
Your gut requires a healthy balance of good bacteria to keep functioning at its best and able to absorb the nutrients your body needs. An imbalance in those bacteria can result in slow digestion, poor nutrition, and other potentially harmful conditions. Adding a probiotic — as well as a prebiotic and postbiotic — to your diet can have a huge impact on restoring optimal function.
2. Change your negative habits.
Poor lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking alcohol excessively, and using prescription or over-the-counter medications for longer than prescribed can all wreak havoc on your digestive system and create short- and long-term problems. Consult your physician about smoking and alcohol cessation plans, and always take medications as intended to avoid damaging your digestive system.
3. Get regular exercise.
Your body was made to move, which means a sedentary lifestyle can slow your metabolism and make your digestive system function less efficiently than it might normally. Adding in regular exercise — including cardiovascular training, strength training, and practices like yoga or deep breathing for stress relief — can help you balance your digestive system and mitigate issues with constipation or slow metabolism.
4. Drink more water.
Dehydration is a silent killer. Your body is more than 70 percent water, and that means it needs water constantly added to it to balance the liquids you excrete during exercise, that are leached out of your skin in dry conditions, or that pass through your body to remove waste. You should shoot for at least half your body weight in ounces to ensure you stay properly hydrated, more if you are highly active or live in a dry climate. Speak with your physician if you are unsure how much is right for your lifestyle and area.
5. Mitigate stress levels.
Every woman’s life is unique, and that means each also has a unique combination of stressors. Chronic stress can lead to long-term problems, including heart issues, cancers, and more. Taking up a stress reduction regimen that includes exercise, hobbies, spending time with loved ones, setting a time to be done with work each day can help reduce the inflammation-causing stressors that impact your digestive system.
6. Add the right supplements and nutrients.
Probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics are a great start, but there are other nutrients that can help you balance your gut. Deficiencies in key vitamins and minerals can be devastating to your body, so ensuring you get the right amounts — and from the right sources — can help get your digestive system back on track. Speak with your physician about testing to understand your nutrient deficiencies.
7. Get better sleep.
You’ve likely heard that you need somewhere between six and eight hours of sleep per night to function, but the truth is that you probably need closer to seven to nine. Late work nights, busy schedules, and too much time scrolling on devices or binge watching TV shows can eat into that rest and make it harder for your body to rest at the end of the day. Consider turning your devices off sooner and getting proper rest to ensure your digestive system — and other organs — have the opportunities they need to reset for whatever the next day will bring.
There are many products on the market that claim to heal different bodily organs, but it is important to be discerning when deciding how to improve your own. It is always best to consult with a physician before embarking on any health regimine, especially if you have concerns or questions about which options might be best for your situation.
Speak with an Expert About Your Digestive Health
Lifestyle changes, paying more attention to diet, getting adequate sleep and exercise, and additional solutions such as supplements can be key to helping get the digestive system back on track and functioning at its best. It can be difficult to know where to start, however, especially if you have been suffering from a digestive issue for a whole. Speaking with an expert can help, and Dr. Karen Threlkel is here to help.
Dr. Threlkel is a naturopathic doctor who specializes in women’s health and a holistic approach to health, wellness, and treating both acute and chronic conditions. Contact Dr. Threlkel about digestive treatments available for any issues.