Taking a healthy approach to the new year

A common tradition of ringing in the New Year is establishing New Year’s resolutions. To a number of people in the United States, that entails setting goals to promote a healthier way of living. Throughout your efforts to search for ways to optimize an ideal diet and a healthy lifestyle, make sure to take steps to boost your digestive health. Your digestive system conducts a number of important functions that help preserve your overall health. We encourage you to make plans now to take proper care of your gastrointestinal health and ring in the New Year with a healthy start.

What foods can I eat to improve digestive health?

Begin the New Year by choosing to follow some healthy dietary habits. Included among the most significant steps you can take to bolster your digestive health is to consume an abundance of foods high in fiber. This helps keep your digestive tract processing properly and could inhibit concerns, like diverticulitis, hemorrhoids and constipation. Nutritional foods to add to your dietary intake that contain a high amount of fiber are items like:

• apples

• whole grains

• green peas

• lentils

• beans

• artichokes

• chickpeas

• broccoli

Along with foods high in fiber, you can additionally consider integrating probiotics into your nutritional intake. Your GI tract relies on a proper proportion of helpful bacteria to work properly. If you increase the consumption of good flora, you could potentially support a healthy balance of bacteria in your digestive tract. Probiotics can be consumed as supplements or incorporated into your diet in the form of fermented foods and drinks.

What are other tips to boost GI health?

The foods you eat are only a portion of the battle. Some other activities that may help improve your digestive health include an exercise regimen. Remaining physically active might help inhibit and relieve constipation as well as help you develop stronger muscles.

The next thing you can consider to help bolster your GI wellness is to manage stress effectively. Unchecked stress and tension might possibly lead to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and constipation. Consider minimizing stress by practicing meditation, making sure to get a proper amount of sleep and strengthening meaningful bonds with others.

Considering that tobacco has a harmful impact on every portion of the body, one last way you can aid your gut health is to stop smoking and using tobacco.

When should I visit a GI doctor?

Though maintaining nutritious dietary habits and establishing an active lifestyle can considerably support your gastrointestinal health, there could be instances in which you should consult a gastrointestinal doctor for more troubling issues. Common signs that you might have a GI condition or disease are as follows:

• unintentional weight loss

• constipation

• loose stools

• blood in your stool

• incontinence

• abdominal pain

• recurring heartburn

• vomiting and queasiness

When should I set up a colon cancer screening?

Promoting good gut health also means remaining current on your preventive care. Colorectal cancer is the third leading form of cancer for both women and men; however, the good news is that an early diagnosis can greatly improve prognoses. Medical experts recommend that individuals begin undergoing routine colonoscopy procedures when they are 45 years old. If the colonoscopy outcome reveals no abnormalities, then another will not be needed for about 10 years.

— This column was provided by Hinsdale Gastroenterology Associates.