Stimulate digestion: How to get gastrointestinal problems under control again

A healthy intestinal flora has a decisive influence on our well-being: If our digestion is not intact, we suffer from gastrointestinal complaints. With the right tips, you can stimulate your metabolism and alleviate typical symptoms.

According to a survey on the frequency of gastrointestinal complaints in Germany, eleven percent of those surveyed suffer from digestive problems such as abdominal pain, gas, constipation or diarrhea several times a month (as of 2017). The most common causes that bring our intestines out of sync include fatty food and stress or even gastric mucosal inflammation, or gastritis for short called. The solution is therefore already obvious: if you want to alleviate the symptoms and get the discomfort under control, you have to stimulate your digestion. How this works best, which foods help and what else you can do to get your gut flora in the green is summarized in this article.

A healthy intestinal flora is (not) a question of age

The bad news first: As we get older, our gastrointestinal tract becomes more sluggish, making digestive problems more common. The good news, however, is that we can do something our entire life to stimulate our metabolism. The most important cornerstones for a healthy intestinal flora include a balanced diet, plenty of drinking, regular exercise and balancing periods of rest. This is exactly what you should focus on if you have constant abdominal pain, gas, constipation, or diarrhea. Which foods even help you to stimulate digestion are explained in the next section.

These foods stimulate your digestion

As mentioned earlier, our diet has a major impact on digestion. In order to counteract or even prevent possible complaints, you should rely on foods rich in fiber, which swell in the intestinal tract and stimulate digestion and thus also the elimination of food – this, for example, prevents possible constipation and flatulence. They include oat flakes, wheat bran and whole grain bread, kefir and yoghurt, fruit and dried fruits such as raspberries, oranges and plums, lettuce, nuts such as almonds, legumes, flax seeds,  psyllium husks and sauerkraut. It is also important that you drink enough fluids, ideally at least two liters of water a day. But herbal and fruit teas without sugar and coffee also stimulate digestion.

These tips will help with digestive problems

We can stimulate digestion from the inside through diet, but there are also a few helpful tips and tricks on how you can influence your gastrointestinal tract from the outside – for example with heatOr a massage: Lie relaxed on your back and use your fingertips to gently apply pressure to the right half of the abdomen under the ribs. From there, work your way to the left side of your stomach in circular movements. Alternatively, you can stimulate your digestion with a walk: the movement promotes blood circulation in the intestine, so that the food in it can be chopped up faster and better and transported further. You can achieve the same effect through sport, although it is not advisable to get on a bike or go jogging if you have acute symptoms. In principle, however, exercise can help to get your digestion going.

The (bowel) strength lies in rest

Did you know that we don’t digest the food we eat until 30 minutes later? The technical term for this is “gastrocolic reflex”, which means the reaction of the intestine to an irritation of the stomach. From a purely biological point of view, this process cannot be accelerated. Not even if you rush to eat. For this reason, it is important to digest calmly. If you gobble down your meals quickly to save time, you are doing your digestive tract a disservice.On the contrary, it is not uncommon for it to react in the form of stomach cramps or diarrhea. So always take enough time to eat, and the same applies to going to the toilet. If you “have to,” go too – if you suppress your bowel movements, you will become constipated faster than you would like.

When a doctor’s visit is absolutely necessary

Medication or home remedies do not always help with digestive problems, so it may be advisable to see a doctor. Especially if, for example, you cannot go to the toilet for several days in a row in combination with severe abdominal cramps, have multiple blood in your stool, constipation lasts for a few weeks or you suffer from diarrhea and constipation alternately. These are all important signs that something is wrong with your gastrointestinal tract and that you should urgently have it examined.

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