Improving Your Digestive Health: 20 Tips and Foods

Whether you or your kids deal with digestive issues like IBS, IBD, constipation, or occasional diarrhea, it’s crucial to understand how your digestive system functions. Good digestion doesn’t just prevent discomfort; it also boosts energy, enhances mood, bolsters the immune system, and aids in weight management. Here, we break down the basics of digestion and offer a list of the best and worst foods to incorporate into your daily diet for better digestive health.

Why Digestive Health Matters

A healthy digestive system is key to overall well-being. While everyone experiences occasional digestive troubles like stomach upset, gas, and bloating, frequent symptoms can disrupt daily life and potentially lead to more serious health issues.

Fortunately, simple changes in diet and lifestyle can make a significant difference. Below, we share 18 tips and foods to promote digestive health.

Understanding Digestive Health

Digestive health, also known as gut health, is critical for our overall wellness. Your gut is home to a diverse community of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses, collectively known as the microbiota.

Each person’s microbiome is unique, and the health of these microorganisms influences your gut health. Signs of an unhealthy gut include frequent diarrhea or constipation, bloating, excessive gas, and abdominal discomfort.

Moreover, digestive health is closely linked to various bodily functions and mental well-being. The microbiome affects the immune system, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, hormones, and the central nervous system.

An unhealthy gut can increase the risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, neurological disorders, allergies, and inflammatory bowel disease. Given its impact on both comfort and long-term health, maintaining good gut health is crucial.

12 Best Tips for Digestive Health

1. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and veggies are packed with essential nutrients and fiber that are great for your digestive system and overall health. The antioxidants found in these foods can help combat cancer, while the fiber content can reduce your chances of constipation.

Good options include a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.

2. Opt for Whole Grains and Nuts

Choosing whole grains ensures you’re getting vital dietary fiber, iron, antioxidants, and other nutrients that are often lost in refined grains used in processed foods like white bread and pastries. Fiber helps prevent constipation, and certain whole grains promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.

Good choices include brown rice, oatmeal, popcorn, whole wheat products, and barley.

3. Cut Back on Red and Processed Meats

Processed meats are often packed with unhealthy amounts of sodium, fat, and nitrates, which have been linked to colon cancer. Red meat consumption has also been associated with cancer, heart disease, and digestive problems.

Good alternatives are poultry, fish, legumes, and limiting red meat to 2-3 servings per week.

4. Watch Your Added Sugar Intake

Consuming excessive amounts of sugar can disrupt the balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut and lead to inflammation. Added sugars are commonly found in various products, including baked goods, ice cream, and desserts.

They’re also sneakily added to many processed foods, such as pasta sauces, salad dressings, and soups.

Opt for naturally sweet treats like fruits and stick to unprocessed whole foods whenever possible.

5. Opt for Healthier Cooking Methods

Eating well isn’t just about what you eat, but also how you prepare your meals. While fried and grilled foods might be tempting, they come with drawbacks.

Fried foods often contain unhealthy fats, and high-temperature grilling can produce carcinogens, which are chemicals linked to cancer.

Better cooking methods include steaming, stewing, poaching, braising, boiling, or microwaving.

6. Incorporate Foods with Probiotics

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help maintain a healthy balance in your gut, promoting good digestion.

Good sources include yogurt, kimchi, raw apple cider vinegar, garlic, onion, and sauerkraut.

7. Stay Well-Hydrated

Dehydration can contribute to constipation, so it’s essential to drink enough water to support healthy bowel function. The amount of water you need varies depending on factors like your size, activity level, and overall health. As a general guideline, adults should aim for 4-6 cups of water per day.

Hydrating options include water, green tea, black coffee, fat-free milk, and freshly squeezed juice.

8. Maintain Regular Exercise

Regular physical activity can help food move through your digestive system more efficiently, reducing the likelihood of nausea, bloating, and constipation. It can also alleviate symptoms of conditions like constipation and inflammatory bowel disease.

Good choices include taking a walk after meals or engaging in 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each day.

9. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Keeping your weight in check lowers your risk of various digestive issues like GERD, gallstones, and certain cancers. Following a balanced diet and staying active can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Good options include adopting healthy eating habits for weight loss if necessary, choosing nutritious foods, and incorporating regular exercise into your routine.

10. Quit Smoking

Smoking doesn’t just harm your lungs; it also adversely affects your digestive system. Research shows that smoking increases the likelihood of acid reflux and stomach ulcers. Quitting smoking can lead to an improvement in these symptoms and reduce the need for gastrointestinal surgeries.

Good choices include seeking support from your doctor to quit smoking or accessing resources like for assistance and information.

11. Prioritize Sleep

Adequate sleep is essential for overall health, including proper digestion. Lack of sleep can trigger inflammation in the bowel, resulting in gastrointestinal discomfort.

Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night to support your digestive health.

12. Manage Stress

Chronic stress can have detrimental effects on your well-being and is associated with digestive issues such as diarrhea, constipation, and IBS. Implementing stress management techniques can help alleviate these symptoms and promote better digestion.

Good options include practicing yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, engaging in regular physical activity, or seeking therapy for additional support.

Top 5 Bad Foods for Your Better Digestive Health

1. Fatty and Fried Foods

Burgers, chips, and fried treats may taste delicious, but they’re tough on your digestive system. These high-fat foods can lead to stomach discomfort and heartburn, as they increase your stomach’s workload and are challenging for your body to process.

2. Dairy Products

Dairy, containing lactose sugar, can be hard for many people to digest. When lactose isn’t properly broken down, it can result in symptoms like gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

3. Acidic Foods

Lemons, limes, and tomato-based sauces can irritate the lining of your stomach, potentially causing digestive issues. If you’re experiencing stomach upset, it’s wise to steer clear of acidic foods.

4. Processed Foods

Processed foods are often low in fiber, which is crucial for maintaining regular bowel movements and promoting good digestion. Additionally, these foods may contain preservatives and artificial coloring, triggering digestive problems for those with sensitivities or allergies.

5. Caffeine

Caffeine found in coffee, tea, and soda can speed up your digestive system, leading to diarrhea, particularly when consumed in excess. If you’re already dealing with diarrhea, caffeine can exacerbate the issue, so it’s best to moderate your intake.

Top 8 Foods for a Healthy Digestive System

1. Whole Grains

Whole grains like whole wheat bread, oats, and brown rice are rich in fiber, which is essential for good digestion. Fiber fuels the cells in your colon, keeping them healthy, and ensures smooth and regular bowel movements.

2. Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is a fermented food packed with beneficial bacteria that support gut health. Its prebiotic fibers nourish the beneficial bacteria in your colon. Start slowly if you’re not used to fermented foods to avoid stomach discomfort.

3. Oats

Oats are a prebiotic food containing soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which promotes the growth of good gut bacteria. They also help regulate digestion and keep you feeling full.

4. Beans

Beans are rich in fiber, aiding digestion by increasing stool weight and softening it. They can help prevent constipation by adding bulk to your bowel movements.

5. Kimchi

Kimchi, another fermented food, is high in probiotics that support digestion, immune function, and reduce inflammation. Incorporate it into various dishes for its benefits.

6. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt contains live cultures that introduce beneficial bacteria into your gut, restoring a healthy balance. Opt for unsweetened varieties to avoid negative effects of added sugars.

7. Ginger

Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger is a natural remedy for nausea and aids digestion. It accelerates the movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine. Enjoy it in tea, stir-fries, or soups.

8. Fish and Lean Meat

Lean meats like chicken and fish are easier for your body to digest compared to fatty red meats. Opting for leaner options can support better digestion and overall health.

Incorporating these foods into your diet can help improve your digestive health.

Disclaimer: The content published on is intended for informational purposes only. It shouldn’t be considered a replacement for professional medical treatment, advice, or diagnosis. Always consult with your physician or a qualified healthcare provider. The information, suggestions, or remedies provided on this site are offered without any warranty, whether express or implied.

Improving Your Digestive Health

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