The digestive system is an important part of the body and any problem related to it can cause a lot of discomfort. Its primary functions are to help your body absorb essential nutrients and get rid of waste products.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, about 60 to 70 million Americans suffer from some kind of digestive problem.
Some common digestive issues include indigestion, bloating, gas, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, acid reflux, peptic ulcers, lactose intolerance, food intolerance, diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), celiac disease, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
While the causes of digestive problems vary, some common factors are poor diet, improper hygiene, lack of exercise, dehydration, excessive smoking, excessive alcohol intake, stress, lack of sleep and nutritional deficiencies.
As there are different types of digestive problems, proper diagnosis and treatment is essential. However, you can use home remedies and lifestyle changes to treat some common digestive issues, such as indigestion, constipation, diarrhea and bloating. Serious digestive problems, however, may need treatment by a specialist.
Here are the top 10 home remedies to treat digestive problems.
To improve digestion and prevent digestive problems, you must include ginger in your diet. It stimulates digestive juices and the flow of enzymes needed to properly digest food. It is effective for preventing and reducing nausea, vomiting, flatulence, indigestion, bloating and diarrhea.
In addition, it has carminative, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties that help prevent digestive problems.
- Drink 2 to 3 cups of ginger tea daily. To make the tea, boil 1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger in 1½ cup of hot water. Let it simmer for 10 minutes, strain out the ginger, add some raw honey and enjoy your tea.
- Alternatively, add 2 teaspoons of ginger juice and 1 teaspoon of honey to a cup of warm water. Drink it once or twice a day.
- To improve digestion, chew a small piece of ginger after your meals.
2. Probiotic Foods
Probiotic foods help keep your digestive system healthy and functioning efficiently. Probiotics contain strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria (good bacteria) that help restore the natural balance of your gut bacteria. They can help treat and prevent digestive problems like diarrhea, abdominal bloating, flatulence and IBD.
A 2010 study published in the Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology journal highlights the efficacy of probiotics, as either a single strain or a combination of probiotics, in treating several digestive issues.
Some of the best probiotic foods include Greek yogurt, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, buttermilk and sour pickles. You can even take probiotic supplements, but only after consulting your doctor.
The herb peppermint also aids digestion and prevents digestive disorders. Its carminative, antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties help treat gas, bloating, intestinal cramps as well as nausea and vomiting.
In addition, it helps calm an upset digestive system and accelerates healing.
A 2007 study published in the Digestive and Liver Diseases journal suggests that this herb helps improve abdominal symptoms in people suffering from IBS. It can even treat similar symptoms of lactose intolerance or celiac disease.
- Drink peppermint tea once or twice a day. To make the tea, add 1 teaspoon of dried peppermint leaves to a cup of hot water. Cover and steep for 10 minutes. Strain and drink it.
- Eat fresh peppermint leaves daily by sprinkling them over your dishes or add them to your salads.
- Another option is to take enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules 3 or 4 times a day for a few weeks.
4. Fennel Seeds
Fennel seeds also support digestive health. You can use them to treat heartburn, indigestion and low stomach acidity. These seeds also provide relief from intestinal spasms and bloating commonly associated with IBS.
A 2003 study published in the Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine journal concluded that fennel seed oil (emulsion) helps decrease the intensity of infantile colic.
- Chew 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds after eating your meal to aid digestion.
- To treat indigestion, drink fennel tea or take ½ teaspoon of fennel seed powder along with a glass of water twice daily. To make fennel tea, steep 1 teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds in a cup of hot water for about 5 minutes.
The potent-smelling spice asafetida is good for your digestive health due to its antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiflatulent properties.
It is highly effective in treating gas, flatulence, upset stomach, stomach pain and food poisoning. You can also use it to treat colic pain in small babies.
- To improve digestion, mix a pinch of asafetida in a glass of warm water and drink it after your meals. Also, include this spice in your daily cooking.
- For small babies, you can rub a little asafetida mixed with water around the navel to reduce stomach pain and gas.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar
Another ingredient that helps keep your digestive system in good health is apple cider vinegar. Though acidic in nature, it has an alkalizing effect in your body.
This helps improve digestion and treat problems like indigestion, gas, bloating, stomachaches and heartburn.
In addition, it has pectin, a water-soluble fiber that regulates bowel movements.
- Add 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a cup of warm water.
- Mix in a little raw honey.
- Drink this 2 or 3 times a day to maintain a healthy digestive system.