Introducing the second of our guest blog posts. Healthline.com blogger David Novac is today’s contributor and he’s discussing healthy diets for healthy bowels, both for those with or without an ostomy.
Healthy Diets for Healthy Bowels
Eating a nutritious, balanced diet is the key in maintaining good health. We all aspire to be healthy, but nowadays processed food are found in almost every corner, so it requires a great deal of perseverance to stick to eating good nutritious foods.
Being healthy should start by eating healthy, and whatever goes through our bowels contributes to our overall wellness. A healthy digestive system is essential since most nutrients that are needed by the body is processed during digestion. Healthy bowels also prevent prevalent diseases such as cancers, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, a normal bowel pattern ranges from three times a day to three times a week. A persistent change from this normal range that last for more than 6 weeks can signify a serious medical condition, so it’s best to confer with your physician. Always remember that every digestive system is unique and how it behaves depends on your body makeup, lifestyle and daily habits. Here are several key changes to insure healthy bowels:
Fiber is the indigestible portion of food that’s derived mostly from plants. This is the number one step in having healthy bowels. Soluble and insoluble fiber has different effects on the bowels and both are needed to keep the bowels in good shape.
Soluble fiber is easily broken down by certain types of bacteria in the colon that produce energy and gas. This is also beneficial in lowering cholesterol level. Insoluble fiber is more difficult to break down by the colonic bacteria, but it holds more water than the soluble fiber. This type of fiber helps in speeding up digestion. Some types of fiber include fruits, vegetables, oats, barley, wheat and rice. It is best to include lots of fiber in your daily diet since it can lower the risk of diarrhea and colon cancer, among other debilitating conditions.
Proteins are used by the body in building and repairing cells. Protein digestion is the process of breaking down dietary protein into amino acids, which is made available to cells, and support muscle maintenance, immune function, red blood cell formation and tissue repair. Example of protein enriched foods are salmon, tuna, Greek yogurt, shellfish, liver and beef.
Fruits and Vegetable
Fruits and vegetables are a good source of numerous nutrients and vitamins, which include fiber, potassium, folate and vitamin C. Fiber helps in reducing constipation and lowers the risk of heart disease and diabetes. It is recommended to eat five portions of fruits and vegetables daily to achieve a healthy, balanced diet. It doesn’t matter if it is canned, frozen, juiced, or dried fruits and vegetables since all of this still counts as part of healthy portions.
Drinking plenty of water keeps your digestive system on track. Water and other liquids help in breaking down food so that the body can easily absorb all of its nutrients. The stomach also needs water to produce hydrochloric acid to maintain a proper pH in the digestive system. This acid also helps in producing the mucous membrane lining in the stomach, protecting it from developing ulcers.
If you are into a high-fiber diet, you need to increase your water consumption as well to avoid constipation. It is recommended to drink at least 1500 or 2000 ml (3-4 pints) of fluids a day.
Suitable fluids include all non-alcoholic and non-caffeine based fluids such as water, fruit juices, and herbal teas. Try to limit your coffee and alcohol intake as well.
Probiotics and vitamin supplements
You can also supplement your diet with vitamins and probiotic supplements to achieve a healthier digestive system. Yogurt is a good source of good bacteria and probiotics, which are crucial for a healthy colon. These bacteria also help your body in producing vitamin B12 that is essential in speeding up the metabolism. Vitamin B6 also plays a large role in maintaining healthy digestion since it helps break down proteins consumed in the body. You can take both vitamin B12 and B6 in supplement form if you think you’re not getting enough of this important nutrient.
Physical activity or exercise is also essential in sustaining a healthy digestive system. It can help stimulate the activity of the colon, helping your bowels to push out food waste out of the body. Exercise can also help you in achieving or maintaining a healthy weight, since bloating and constipation are more common to those who are overweight. It is a good idea to choose what type of exercise suits you best since some can also have negative effects.
David Novak’s byline has appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world. He’s an avid health enthusiast, and frequently is featured in regional and national health publications. He is also a weekly writer for Healthline. To visit his other stories on Healthline, visit http://www.healthline.com/.