Eating is one of life’s most enjoyable pleasures for a human being, both for the nourishment and sensory experiences of it. By the time we reach adulthood most of us have very developed tastes and preferences for certain types of foods, but that also typically comes with some unhealthy eating habits. Some of them you can be dealt with in the interest of continuing to enjoy certain foods (and ingredients within them) in moderation, but ingesting certain foods and ingredients may inhibit the digestive functioning of your stomach and intestines.
Today we’re going to discuss some dietary choices and natural products that you can use as ways to improve digestion. Dyspepsia is the term for having impaired digestive function, and there’s a big difference between it and having an upset stomach. Individuals who have inhibited digestion are likely to have been suffering from it long-term and be could prone to major health problems as a result. Being proactive in creating a strong digestive system is best, but you can also use quality supplements like Prairie Naturals Enyzme-Force comprehensive digestive enzyme blend or – for dealing with gluten sensitivity – Gluten Digest-Zyme.
Believe me, you want to have your digestive system operating as efficiently and thoroughly as possible. Here’s why.
The Second Brain
There is a very direct link exists between a person’s digestive health and their physical and mental wellbeing. So much so that many experts on the subject identify the gut as being your ‘second brain.’ Whether you believe that or not, it’s a fact that your intestinal tract is home to your enteric nervous system where the intestines produce and co-regulate 30 different neurotransmitters that are used by the central nervous system to regulate mood, stress levels, sleep patterns, mental functioning, and a number of other body processes.
A sufficient and steady supply of the vitamins and minerals used as building blocks for those neurotransmitters is absolutely essential, but in cases of severely deficient digestive process as little as one half of the essential vitamins, minerals, and protein are taken in by the intestines and supplied for production of neurotransmitters.
Simply put, if you want to be in good mental health then you want your digestive system functioning well. Understanding how the digestive system and process works can help people address / prevent digestive problems, and the first important step in the process that’s important to understand is that digestion does NOT begin in the stomach.
Which leads us to tip number one.
1. Chew your food thoroughly
Digestion begins in the mouth as you begin to chew your food. The movement of your jaw that way stimulates you saliva glands to produce saliva. Saliva is full of digestive enzymes that begin to break down food before it reaches the stomach, but if you swallow prematurely the mouthful of food doesn’t receive a sufficient intermixing with saliva. Most of you have probably never really given much thought to how thoroughly you chew your food. Gastroenterologists recommend 20 times per mouth is recommended. Do it successively and eventually it will become a habit, and your food will be much more effectively prepped for stage 2 of the digestive process.
2. Moderate Consumption of Beverages while Eating
Once food has entered it, the stomach secretes hydrochloric acid and various enzymes which serve to further digest and break down the food. The second tip here is related to an issue that occurs quite frequently during this stage of the digestive process. Many of us both eat and drink simultaneously. Consuming a moderate volume of a liquid (beverage in this case) is fine, but larger amounts will dilute the concentration of the mixture of hydrochloric acid and enzymes.
The possibility then becomes that food enters the intestines without being broken down. This can result in gas, abdominal pain, and progressive nutritional deficiencies, with the body struggling to extricate the vitamins and minerals locked away in the undigested food matter. Prairie Naturals Digest Force is an excellent all-natural and herbal supplement that utilizes activated coconut charcoal and ginger root extract to detoxify the intestinal tract and relies gas, bloating and other related symptoms.
Don’t consume too much liquid while eating your meals, and in fact it’s recommended not to drink any liquids at all in the approximately 30 to 40 minutes before you’re going to eat a meal.
3. Be Full of Beneficial Bacteria
We also need to be very aware of the role of probiotics – bacteria and microorganisms found in the intestines – in proper digestive function. Quantity and balance of the variety of probiotics is essential for optimal digestion. Eating well and making sound diet and lifestyle choices is enough for most people to keep their ranks up and maintain that healthy balance, but the most conspicuous threat to the probiotic flora in your gut is antibiotics. Unfortunately, the use of antibiotics is so prevalent in Western society.
The antibiotics will wipe out extensive numbers of bacteria in your gut, including the good probiotic bacteria and the bad bacteria. What can occur then is that any number of pathogens take the opportunity to set up shop in absence of enough of the endogenous, immune-enhancing bacteria that would otherwise oppose their expansion.
Using natural antibiotic medicines rather than pharmaceutical antibiotics – colloidal silver, oil or wild oregano are 2 well regarded ones – is recommended, as is taking a quality probiotics supplement with food regularly, especially for older folks who have a history of digestive ailments.
4. Limit Intake of Cold Foods
The human body typically rests at a temperature somewhere in the vicinity of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and when food is ingested the stomach will need to heat it up to this temperature in order to promote optimal digestion. Most foods that aren’t especially cold are brought up to this temperature quite easily. Eating particularly cold food, however, puts considerable strain on the digestive system and doing so regularly can lead to many of the digestive ‘burn out’ symptoms alluded to above.
Limit the amount of cold food you eat, and this includes desserts like ice cream.
5. Be Wary of ‘Healthy’ Diets
Many diets and specific dietary choices may be healthy in theory, but in practice they may not be conducive to having good digestive function. Let’s take juicing for example. It creates the same problems where excess liquid dilutes the stomach’s hydrochloric acid / enzyme mix. Similarly, many raw food diets incorporate nuts and seeds extensively. It just so happens those are 2 of the absolute most difficult foods to digest. Each of them contain varying levels of phytic acid and trypsin, which serve to render your foods to be less nutritional. They bind up essential minerals and reconstitute them to be less digestible by the stomach and intestinal tract.
Sprouting nuts does make them more possible for them to be broken down and digested, but one unavoidable reality is that ingesting large volumes of nuts – sprouted or unsprouted – can lead to chronic digestive problems.
6. Avoid Excessive Intake of Alkaline Water
Having our digestive secretions being acidic is essential for optimal overall digestion. The correct hydrochloric acid content in our stomach bile is needed for completely breaking down food so that its nutrients can be extracted. Drinking large volumes of alkaline water or other alkaline beverages neutralizes your stomach acidity. Drinking some of it is fine, but provided it is ‘naturally’ alkaline – which means it features naturally occurring minerals or added minerals, like those that are found in spring water. Keep in mind that all minerals are alkaline, and mixing them into water makes the water become alkaline.
The concern here is with ‘processed’ waters, which are ones where the manufacturer artificially alkalizes the water by having passed over metal plates putting out slight electrical charges. Try to be aware of whether or not your bottled alkaline water has been treated this way, as the false alkalinity of the water is detrimental to the consistency of your stomach bile and digestion problems can result.
7. Avoid Sugar
We’ll skip the argument against sugar in general, because you’re all likely well aware of how it’s far and away the most harmful dietary component in North America and has been for well over a hundred years. Refined white sugar is absolutely terrible for your overall health, and should be completely avoided. But you may be surprised to learn that excessive amounts of fruit, fruit juices, honey and products that contain natural sweeteners like xylitol or stevia can also be harmful for your digestion.
That’s because these types of sugars actually weaken your pancreas. To describe the process briefly, when you eat ANY type of sugar-containing food, it causes a rise in your blood sugar levels. No big surprise there, but what also happens is that your pancreas then secretes insulin to ferry all that excess sugar out of the bloodstream. Consume large volumes of refined OR natural sugars and the extra stress placed on your pancreas causes it to be overworked and ‘burnt out’ accordingly. When this occurs, it’s not able to product enough of the enzymes that are vital to healthy digestion. Should it occur constantly and long-term then you may find yourself with major digestive issues.
Follow these tips and be smarter with dietary and supplement choices and you’ll be digesting – and feeling – like a champ! Happy Canada Day tomorrow everyone.