By: Catherine Metzgar, Dietetic Intern, Penn State University Date: 6/15/11
Bloated? Gassy? Constipated?
Ever wonder if these and other digestive woes could be related to what you eat? The food choices we make each day impact the way our digestive system works. Some foods and beverages such as fruits, vegetables, fiber-rich grains and certain yogurts can even benefit your digestive system and help “quiet the storm” below. Read on for other tips and strategies to make smart dietary choices and settle your tummy troubles.
· Be a Fiber Achiever: Aim for at least 25 grams of fiber each day (slightly more if you’re a guy) – this amount provides the proper amount of bulk to your diet. Where can you find fiber? Whole grain products, nuts, legumes, fruits and vegetables are often good sources of fiber, as well as fortified foods and beverages. These include items such as some yogurts, cereals or nutrition bars. Look for foods and beverages that provide at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
· Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids to keep things moving!
· Call on the “Good Guys”: Probiotics are live cultures that have certain health benefits. These good bacteria keep your digestive system in shape and are found in a variety of fermented foods such as certain yogurts, cheeses and kefir.
· Keep in the “Good Guys” in Shape: To keep probiotics alive and healthy, they need some assistance from prebiotics. Prebiotics are naturally occurring in foods such as asparagus, onions and wheat, but may be added to products like yogurt, cereals, breads and dietary supplements. Need help finding what probiotic foods and supplements are right for you? Contact your health professional or a registered dietitian.
· Get Moving: Focus on fitting physical activity into your day. All types of exercise, from walking and stretching to jogging, will help promote good digestive health.
For more tips and strategies to promote digestive health, check out the Foundation’s new video “Foods for Health: Eating for Digestive Health,” produced in partnership with registered dietitian and author of “101 Optimal Life Foods,” David Grotto. The video is the sixth in the Foundation’s “Foods for Health” series featuring nutrition expert and author, David Grotto. Other video topics include healthy kids and families, weight management, immune health, heart health and healthy aging.
Remember, no single food will replace the benefits of an overall healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and regular physical activity.
What foods and beverages do you use to keep your digestive system running smoothly? Do you have other tips to prevent digestive difficulties?