(ARA) - A new survey from The Dannon Company, conducted by StrategyOne, reveals that Americans are making health-conscious decisions about the foods they eat, with six in 10 saying they have made food purchases driven by health concerns. In particular, 43 percent say they have purchased a food to help their digestive system. "While this finding reveals a positive step for many Americans, it also means that more than half of us aren't paying close enough attention to our digestive health", said Dr. Miguel Freitas, Director of Health Affairs for Dannon.
Why is digestive health so important? For starters, the digestive system is where vitamins, nutrients and minerals are absorbed, so it's important to take good care of it. In addition, a healthy and well-functioning digestive system can lead to better overall well-being.
The good news is, there are many steps we can take to improve our digestive health, including easy changes to the foods we buy and eat. Nutrition expert Keri Glassman, founder and president of Nutritious Life and author of the best-selling book, The O2 Diet, shares her simple steps for a healthier digestive system:
* Eat until you're satisfied, not stuffed. When eating a snack or meal, the goal is to feel satiated (the feeling when hunger goes away), not full or uncomfortable. Foods that contain whole grains will help you achieve this feeling while also delivering a strong dose of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Try adding a helping of vegetables to round out a healthy meal without adding a lot of calories.
* Drink lots of fluids. Fluids can help ease the passage of food through the digestive tract. Drink at least one glass of water at every meal. If you're tired of plain water, add slices of lemons or oranges, or whole berries to pack a punch of flavor without extra calories.
* Choose digestion-friendly foods. Eating foods that contain probiotics ("friendly" bacteria) is an increasingly popular way to improve digestive health. In the Dannon survey, over half of Americans (54 percent) reported that they have consumed products containing probiotics, and two-thirds of these individuals say they consume them often. Seek out products with specific benefits, such as yogurt containing a probiotic culture called Bifidus Regularis, which helps regulate the digestive system when consumed daily for two weeks as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.
* Get moving. Regular exercise, including taking a walk after a meal, is a great way to keep your digestive tract on track. Be sure to stay hydrated before, during, and after a vigorous workout.
* Understand the gut-brain connection. The "gut feeling" isn't just a myth; the gut and brain are closely connected, and if you're feeling stressed, angry, or nervous, it can affect your digestive system. To maintain good digestive health, try to find ways to stay relaxed and stress-free.
To learn more about digestive health and the benefits of probiotics, speak with your health care provider or nutritionist.