Everyone I know dreads the night-before bowel prep for a colonoscopy… except for one friend. Thanks to what she does year-round to promote digestive health, Sarah sails through the process and reaps other benefits as well, including improved immunity and overall health. Sarah started this regimen years ago to help alleviate the chronic allergies that she suffered. She is a patient of Andrew L. Rubman, ND, founder and director of the Southbury Clinic for Traditional Medicines in Connecticut and a longtime friend and adviser to this newsletter. Among his recommendations for a smooth-functioning digestive system…

Eat healthfully. Leafy green vegetables encourage the release of digestive enzymes that help the absorption of important nutrients. Whole grains and other fiber-rich foods promote the ­secretion of saliva and gastric acids. They also help normalize bowel function, preventing constipation and other digestive problems. At Dr. Rubman’s suggestion, Sarah also takes a daily dose of glucomannan, a natural dietary fiber.

Take digestive enzymes. They help the body efficiently digest food, alleviating occasional digestion-related discomfort and reducing the potential for illness. Most people benefit from taking one or two capsules with each meal. Many good, inexpensive brands are sold in health-food stores. Look for one that includes betaine HCl (a form of hydrochloric acid) and pancreatin.

Don’t wash down your food. Too much liquid with meals dilutes stomach acid, which makes for poorer digestion. Drink mainly between meals.

Eat slowly. Relaxed eating promotes production of digestive enzymes and muscle contractions in the gut. Wolfing down your food can lead to heartburn, excess gas and other discomfort.

Chew thoroughly. It makes swallowing easier and exposes more food to digestive juices so that more nutrients can be absorbed.

Exercise aerobically. Aerobic exercise accelerates your breathing and heart rate, which helps stimulate the natural contraction of intestinal muscles. Intestinal muscles that contract efficiently help move stools out quickly, preventing constipation.

Dr. Rubman isn’t a big fan of heavily advertised “detox” cleansing regimes, which can deplete the body of healthful substances. Unless a physician recommends otherwise, just help your body cleanse itself naturally. Dr. Rubman writes a monthly column called “Rubman’s Digestion Connection” for Bottom Line’s Daily Health News, one of our free e-letters. To sign up, go to www.BottomLineSecrets.com.