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5 Natural Ways to Aid Digestion (And Keep Your Gut Happy!)

By Elisa - Jenny Craig Science-Backed

Ah, digestion—a bodily function almost everyone wants a better handle on. The digestive tract comprises four major parts:  the gastrointestinal tract, liver, pancreas and gallbladder.1 Together, this master system of processing nutrients keeps your body running. If one or more of these components gets stuffed up or compromised, digestive issues can arise.

 

When gut grievances do pop up, instead of reaching for the usual over-the-counter suspects, try some natural ways to help get your stomach back on track. Follow these tricks to safely clear the way and boost your overall health.

Follow an eating schedule

Digestion_Schedule.jpgPaying attention to your circadian rhythm can benefit your digestion in significant ways. Our bodies feel hunger based on an internal clock,2 also known as our circadian rhythm. The National Institute of General Medical Sciences defines circadian rhythms as one’s mental, behavioral and physical changes over a 24-hour cycle, dictated by lightness and darkness. By eating the majority of your calories during daylight hours when you’re most active and giving your body adequate time to rejuvenate during the night, you can work with your metabolism to optimize not only your digestive process but also to promote weight loss.3 What’s more, eating according to this timeline can keep your system regular and your metabolism functioning efficiently.3-4

 

How can you incorporate eating with your natural circadian rhythm into your daily routine? Start by following a daylight nutrition strategy, or time-restricted feeding pattern. Consume your calories within a 12-hour time-period and then refrain from consuming food besides herbal tea or water for the next 12-hours, which includes sleep. For example, if you start your day with breakfast at 7 a.m., you would have your last meal by 7 p.m., resuming your consumption of food the next morning at 7 a.m. Rapid Results, Jenny Craig’s newest program, incorporates this daylight nutrition strategy.

Manage your stress

Many of us have heard time and again: stress can wreak havoc on your body. Your digestive system is no exception. Stress can trigger our "flight or fight" response,5 which can interfere with digestion while your body uses all its energy to fight against the stressor instead. Keeping your stress levels in check can help ensure things keep moving smoothly.

Drink more waterDigestion_DrinkMoreWater.jpg

Your gut needs water to keep moving your meals along. Fibrous foods absorb the water that helps them do their job: keep things moving through your system.6 Think of it as a constant stream of water to clear the pipes and help all the things you eat move efficiently and easily through.

Embrace probiotics

Digestion_Probiotics.jpgThese are the good guys—also known as the good bacteria that boosts gut health. Studies have suggested that consuming more of these live bacteria can help aid digestion, promote regular bowel movements and help alleviate symptoms of IBS or IBD.7 Looking for an easy way to incorporate probiotics into your day? Grab a cup of yogurt to accompany your breakfast. Look for the phrase “live active cultures” on the packaging and try opting for one that is low in added sugar. Not only is yogurt an excellent source of protein, but it’s also a valuable source of calcium—which may help prevent the onset of osteoporosis.8

Move more

Digestion_GetMoving.jpgRegular exercise can help you stay, well, regular. Going for a walk can help move things along if you're feeling constipated, and a normal routine can promote ongoing healthy digestion. The more frequently you get your heart pumping, the stronger you and your digestive system can get as well. Stronger muscles mean less blood diverted from your digestive tract during movement because your muscles are working more efficiently.9

 

For more information on how Jenny Craig can help you achieve your health goals, contact us to book your free appointment.

 

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Sources:

[1] National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Your Digestive System & How it Works, December 01, 2017, https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/digestive-system-how-it-works

[2] Advances in pediatrics, Gut clock: implication of circadian rhythms in the gastrointestinal tract, April, 2011, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21673361

[3] Longo, Valter D., and Satchidananda Panda. “Fasting, Circadian Rhythms, and Time-Restricted Feeding in Healthy Lifespan.” Cell Metabolism, vol. 23, no. 6, 14 June 2016, pp. 1048–1059., doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2016.06.001.

[4] CNN, How your gut's circadian rhythm affects your whole body, January 02, 2017, https://www.cnn.com/2017/01/02/health/gut-microbiome-circadian-rhythm/index.html

[5] Harvard Health Blog, Stress and the sensitive gut, https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/stress-and-the-sensitive-gut

[6] NHS Choices, https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/good-foods-to-help-your-digestion/

[7] Harvard Health Blog, Health benefits of taking probiotics, https://www.health.harvard.edu/vitamins-and-supplements/health-benefits-of-taking-probiotics

[8]https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/good-protein-sources

[9] Manhattan Gastroenterology, How Exercise Affects Your Digestion, July 18, 2017 https://www.manhattangastroenterology.com/exercise-affects-digestion/

Elisa Hoffman

bio-photo-Elisa.jpg.ea6b8a205d9e2f742b035cb498a3b0bb.jpgElisa is a content marketing manager for Jenny Craig with over ten years of experience working in the health and fitness industry. She loves sharing her passion for living a balanced and healthy lifestyle. A San Diego native and an endurance sports enthusiast, you can usually find her swimming, biking along the coast highway or running by the beach in her free time. Elisa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University Chico.

 

Favorite healthy snack: mozzarella string cheese with a Pink Lady apple.

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This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and is written by experienced health and lifestyle contributors and reviewed by certified professionals.

 

Our goal at Jenny Craig is to provide the most up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics, so our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All articles undergo an extensive review process, and depending on the topic, are reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Nutritionist, to ensure accuracy.

 

This article contains trusted sources including scientific, peer-reviewed papers. All references are hyperlinked at the end of the article to take readers directly to the source.


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