It’s common to experience occasional digestive issues such as constipation, stomach upset or even heartburn. Experts believe that it’s ideal to opt for natural remedies to keep such conditions at bay—if they happen frequently, they can cause serious health problems.
Jean Marie Muhire, a specialist in internal medicine at La Nouvelle Clinic-Kigali, says there are common ways to avoid issues related to digestion, and mentions that diet and lifestyle changes are just some of the common practices.
One of the most important aspects, Muhire notes, is that people should avoid high refined carbs, saturated fat, and food additives.
He points out that this has been linked to an increased risk of developing digestive disorders as food additives, including glucose, salt, and other chemicals can contribute to increased gut inflammation.
These foods, he says, are well-known for their negative effects on heart health, and are associated with an increased risk of developing ulcerative colitis and inflammatory bowel disease.
“In a nutshell, it means that the diet mentioned is not just harmful to your digestion system but has other health effects that can complicate your entire system. Staying away from it can do justice as far as your well-being is concerned,” Muhire says.
He adds that processed foods like low-calorie drinks and ice cream often contain artificial sweeteners, which have an impact on the digestive system.
Erick Musengimana, a dietician and nutritionist at Rwanda Diabetes Association in Kigali, says another remedy is consuming food rich in fibre, especially soluble fibre, as it aids in absorbing water and helps add bulk to your stool.
Soluble fiber can be found in oat bran, legumes, nuts, and seeds, while vegetables.
Meanwhile, a high-fibre diet has been linked to a reduced risk of digestive conditions, including ulcers, reflux, haemorrhoids, and diverticulitis.
Musengimana says good digestion may require eating enough good fats as they help one feel satisfied after a meal and are often needed for proper nutrient absorption.
Additionally, studies have shown that omega 3 fatty acids may decrease your risk of developing inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis.
Foods high in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseeds, chia seeds, nuts, as well as fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines.
On the other hand, Muhire says it’s also important to stay hydrated by always taking in more fluids.
Normally, it is recommended that one drinks 1.5–2 liters of non-caffeinated fluids per day to prevent constipation.
Muhire goes on to suggest adding fruits and vegetables that are high in water, such as cucumber, zucchini, celery, tomatoes, and melons to ensure that one stays hydrated.
Normally, stress has been associated with stomach ulcers, diarrhea, and constipation which directly affect digestion.
“Practicing mindful eating is also important when it comes to digestion as this is the practice of paying attention to all aspects of food and the process of eating, thus preventing issues of indigestion,” says Musengimana.
Studies have shown that mindfulness may reduce digestive symptoms in people with ulcerative colitis.
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to improve digestion as it helps food travel through the digestive system.
Health practitioners advise that taking a walk after a meal is important as it may assist the body in moving things along. Studies show that moderate exercise, such as cycling and jogging, increased good transit time by nearly 30 per cent.