Irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, constipation and other digestive disorders are becoming more and more common in society today. Many medical procedures and health products have been developed to address these concerns. However, very few people are discussing how to improve your digestive health with simple lifestyle changes. Lifestyle factors contribute greatly to your digestive health. If you have a very sedentary lifestyle, it is highly likely that you are going to be experiencing digestive disorders at some time in your life. This is because the abdominal muscles aren’t contracting enough to push the waste through.
Adding some simple exercises to your life can help to improve your digestion and relieve symptoms of constipation. These can be as easy as taking a walk, a few breathing exercises or even something fun, such as jumping on a trampoline.
Peristalsis and Exercise
It is important to understand how food moves through your system. After you chew your food and swallow it, it is moved through the esophagus. Smooth muscles then contract behind the bolus (ball of food) to prevent it from being squeezed back into the mouth.
Peristalsis is the contraction and relaxation of muscles that propagates in a wave down a tube. These radially symmetrical contractions flow in an anterograde direction. The rhythmic, unidirectional waves of contractions then form to rapidly force the food down to the stomach. There is a migrating motor complex which helps trigger peristaltic waves which push the food along. This also helps to clear out remaining food in the stomach to the small bowel and remaining particles in the small bowel into the colon.
When the contractions are not strong enough to move the bolus down the digestive tract, food becomes stuck. Constipation occurs. Ensuring that you have good peristalsis will help to keep your food moving smoothly through your digestive tract. One simple way to promote peristalsis is through movement.
Rebounding is a great exercise that will stimulate the lymphatic system, which is the body’s waste and disposal mechanism. Rebounding on a mini-trampoline provides your digestive system with the peristalsis that it needs to assist with the body’s elimination process.
Another great exercise that will ensure that your digestive tract runs smoothly is simply walking. I noticed with my dog that he didn’t poop immediately when I took him outside. Often he needed to walk around a bit. I realized that he needed to get his muscles moving in order to eliminate waste. The peristalsis occurred better when he exercised. I discovered that the same is true for humans as I started to make note of my own bowel movements.
Hydration and Digestion
Constipation is often a symptom of dehydration. To maintain ideal digestion, you want to ensure that your body has enough water for its cells and organs to function properly. A body can live without food for days, but it can not live without water. Therefore, ensuring that you are getting enough water should be of utmost importance.
One simple way to ease chronic constipation is to drink plenty of fluids each day. Staying well-hydrated should be an integral part of your plan to improve your digestion and get things moving.
Water is vital for digestion. It keeps the food that you eat moving through your intestines. Water also keeps your intestines smooth and flexible.
How much water should you be drinking. According to the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board, it suggests that women get 91 ounces of water each day from foods and drinks and men drink approximately 125 ounces. For the average, healthy person, 8 cups per day is a good goal.
Eat Healthy Foods
There are many opinions about what the perfect diet is for you. Many people follow a vegan diet, while others are carnivore. The most inclusive healthy diet that I’ve found is the ketogenic diet, which has been shown in studies to reduce inflammation in the body. However, if you have a healthy digestive tract, you should be able to handle foods that require hydrochloric acid, such as meat or foods that have fiber, such as vegetables.
If you are suffering from digestive disorders, one of the things that you should focus on is whole foods. Try to consume foods as close as possible to their natural state. This means meats and vegetables that have gone through very little processing.
The one type of food that you may want to consider eliminating if you have digestive problems is going to be packaged and processed food. These foods often contain chemicals that disrupt our system. They are often highly refined and preserved with chemicals that lead to dehydration and digestive problems. Packaged foods often create dehydration in the body as well as increase the rate of breathing. This can lead to constipation.
Increase Your Body Oxygen Levels
You can’t live without oxygen. For your cells to function properly, they need a balance of carbon dioxide and oxygen that happens through the respiratory system. When your body becomes deficient in these essential gases, you start to develop diseases and chronic illnesses.
Having low levels of oxygen due to ineffective breathing is a cause of constipation. Yandell Henderson, MD, Yale University, discovered that low arterial hypocapnia (low levels of CO2) caused by chronic hyperventilation resulted in the l
oss of tone in the blood vessels located in the abdominal viscera of dogs. This produced extreme intestinal congestion, which caused constipation and weight gain. Saturation of the blood vessels with carbon dioxide quickly eliminated the congestion. Yandell Henderson’s study was published in the American Journal of Physiology in 1907.
Low carbon dioxide values in the arterial blood causes issues with the perfusion and oxygenation of the digestive organs. Therefore, the performance of the digestive organs becomes impaired.
A simple breathing exercise can help you to relieve constipation in just a few minutes.
There are simple steps that you can take to relieve constipation and improve your digestive health. It can be as simple as incorporating a daily walk into your daily routine with nasal breathing and switching your beverage to water. These steps can make a monumental difference in your digestion and improve your overall health in the process.
Creating the habit of a simple walk during your lunch break can help to prevent you from spending hours on the toilet with symptoms of constipation.