Digestive Problems: 10 Tips for Daily Life
3. A Balanced Diet Keeps Digestion on Track
Eating right can help prevent digestive problems or soothe your system when problems flare up. Follow your doctor’s instructions on what to eat and what to avoid. Pay attention to portion sizes, as well as how often and how quickly you eat.
What to eat depends partly on the specific cause of your digestive problems as well as what foods you’re sensitive to. Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind:
- Gradually add more fiber to your diet. Fiber-rich foods add bulk to your stools, which helps regulate your digestion. Increase your fiber intake gradually to prevent bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
- Eat several small meals throughout the day to prevent the sudden bowel contractions that large meals can cause.
4. Stay Hydrated, but Drink with Care
Water is essential to good health and normal bowel function. Water also helps keep stools soft but solid and well-formed. Avoid drinking beverages such as coffee or soda if you think they trigger your digestive problems.
When diarrhea strikes, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated. Water and sports drinks (which replace lost minerals called electrolytes) are good choices. Caffeine and alcohol can worsen dehydration.
Increase your fluid intake in hot weather and any time you exercise vigorously. Drinking water helps prevent dehydration, a potentially dangerous imbalance where your body loses more water than it takes in.
To prevent “traveler’s diarrhea,” avoid potentially contaminated water and anything that might have come into contact with water. Sip bottled water, juice, or sports drinks when you’re on the road. Remember that contaminated water may be used to make ice and popsicles, coffee, or tea, and to rinse raw fruit and vegetables.
5. Practice Healthy Hygiene for Better Digestion
Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after you use the bathroom and before eating or preparing food. This helps prevent transmitting potentially dangerous bacteria to your food.
If diarrhea causes pain or itching, try using premoistened, alcohol-free towelettes (not harsh soap) to clean the anal area. Keep the skin dry by wearing cotton underwear and loose, comfortable clothes that breathe.