Ways to Aid Digestion – Go Beyond the Prescriptions
A good topic for a dinner table conversation is “how-to aid digestion.” Why? Because people don’t pay enough attention to digestion, which is a prominent factor when it comes to being healthier.
The phrase “listen to your gut” is very good advice but alas, many people don’t pay enough attention to digestive issues. Consequently, their health may be affected by something that could easily be cured in the early stages.
How Does the Digestion System Work?
Digestion starts with the mouth and the salivary glands. Once a piece of food – be it a slice of steak or a tomato — enters, saliva kicks off the first stage of the digestive process. Think of the adage “it makes my mouth water,” as it is literally true.
Then the teeth get into the action. They break down food and mix it with the saliva. Most people produce about one liter of this fluid a day.
Once the food is swallowed, it makes its way down the esophagus. Some think of it as the “windpipe.” The muscles of the esophagus squeeze and relax to propel the food into the stomach, via the lower esophageal sphincter muscle.
The powerful muscles in the stomach get to work to break the food into even smaller pieces. Glands in the lining of the stomach produce acid and enzymes called chime.
After the stomach
Once well mixed, muscle contractions move the food into the initial part of the small intestine. Next, the digestive juices of the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder do their jobs of processing it.
The pancreas has enzymes to aid in breaking down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. The bile in the liver aids digestion. The gallbladder works like a hose that squeezes bile into the small intestine.
The jejunum is the name of the second part of the small intestine. Here the food moves into the ileum where the final nutrients are absorbed. By the end of this process, all that is left is electrolytes, water, and waste products.
Once in the large intestine, the water is absorbed. The waste products are further broken down and moved into the lower colon and rectum. When the walls of the rectum are stretched, they send a signal to the anus to relax. Once that happens the stool is expelled from the body.
No matter if it is potato, chicken tikka or popcorn, the process is always the same.
What Foods Help Aid Digestion?
Hippocrates was right when he advised, “Let food be thy medicine.” People who eat well are healthier than those who don’t.
The rule of thumb about foods that are good for the digestive system is to avoid fat. People who stay away from greasy fries, hamburgers and deep-fried chicken have fewer problems digesting their food. Not a surprise.
Rather than grease, go for fiber-rich food. Since fiber isn’t digested it helps to keep the digestive system clean and running well. Think of it as a sweeping of the digestive system.
So, avoid the fast food joints and go directly to a farmer’s market or a grocery store with a selection of good fresh food. Fill the shopping cart with poultry, seafood, and lean meats. When it comes to meat, avoid the fatty cuts. Or switch to vegetarian options like beans.
Stay away from whole milk products and pick up the fat-free or low-fat options.
The following fit on the healthy digestive-system shopping list:
- apple with skin
- pear with skin
- baked beans
- green beans
- lima beans
- bran flakes
What Is “Gut Bacteria”?
Mixed together, the fluids of our digestive system – starting with saliva — form what is commonly called “gut bacteria.” With more than 100 trillion cells, gut bacteria has a major impact on people’s health.
Good gut bacteria has a positive impact on both the immune and digestive systems. It also creates much-needed vitamins.
Bad bacteria is responsible for bad digestion, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and skin conditions. Mental health problems – including chronic stress and nightmares — can also be caused by this category of gut bacteria.
Often the first sign of a gut bacteria imbalance is problems with digestion.
Another thing to aid digestion is to avoid antibiotics. They indiscriminately knock off both good and bad gut bacteria.
What Are Ways to Deal with Digestive Issues?
When it comes to digestion, virtually everyone will have a problem at some point in life. Mild digestive issues include flatulence – embarrassing, but not fatal – burping, and diarrhea.
There are also very serious diseases related to the digestive system. These include inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, and Chron’s disease.
Natural cures and remedies
Since homo sapiens have had digestive problems since before they even crawled out of the caves, there are a plethora of natural cures.
Ayurveda and China — the first civilizations to practice medicine – considered the digestive system to be one of the major health indicators. Modern medicine agrees that they were right.
A question now being raised is whether the increasing number of people with an undiagnosed gluten allergy and lactose intolerance, in fact, just have digestive issues. A possibility worth considering.
In the world of the Internet, there is no shortage of sites offering advice about digesting. Type “natural digestion remedies” into a search engine and be prepared for pages that go on almost forever.
Remedies to aid digestion issues can found in many kitchen cupboards. Included in this list are chamomile tea, apple cider vinegar, ginger, coriander, pumpkin, garlic, peppermint, fennel seeds, black pepper, and caraway seeds.
And prunes are an age-old effective remedy for constipation to aid digestion.
Other suggestions include dandelions, skullcap, black cohosh, and yarrow.
Over-the-counter drugs to help with digestion include laxatives, antacid, and oral rehydration preparations. And they are readily available at the local pharmacy.
When it comes to serious digestion issues, however, it is time for prescription medication. Anti-inflammatory drugs include corticosteroids and oral5-aminosalicylates and are common choices.
If worse comes to worst – as in the case of Crohn’s Disease – it is time for surgery. Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually solve the problem. The disease often reoccurs near the reconnected tissue.
What Effect Does Lifestyle Have on Digestion?
People who eat junk food, don’t exercise, smoke, drink alcohol, and are obese can expect to have digestive issues.
Advice such as regular exercise, drinking lots of fluids, and not eating too quickly is fairly obvious. A good idea for people who have digestive issues is to keep a diary of what they eat and record what the reactions are.
Monitoring goes a long way when it comes to identifying digestion triggers. It is also a reminder to people that they had deep-fried junk rather than soup and a salad for lunch.
While de-stressing is great advice, accomplishing it may be more difficult. However, people who start to watch their diets, exercise, and not go to sleep on a full stomach take a step that helps their digestive system.
How Inversion Tables Aid Digestion
Inversion tables are being used to help treat all kinds of ailments but they do much more than just relieve pain in places like the lower back and/or SI joint. When used correctly, inversion therapy can ease the effects of numerous ailments, including digestion.
The body’s internal organs are constantly feeling the pull of gravity and inversion tables give the digestion system a break. However, it is wise to do your inversion therapy on an empty stomach to avoid nausea. There are many inversion tables on the market today and they are available in every price range.
What Is the Plan of Action?
The first step to aid digestion is to talk about it – and over the dinner table is a good place to start.
People who are aware of the effects of the food they eat have moved closer to being healthy. Add exercise and lots of water and chances are that the digestion system will improve remarkably.
To aid digestion, fresh is best.