With over 43% of the British population experiencing digestive problems in their life, digestion is a topic that cannot be ignored.
It's just as important as any other bodily process; your body needs it to break food into nutrients. It also helps your body gain energy and grow and repair cells.Without digestion, you wouldn't be able to perform many daily tasks and functions.
Which is why you need to look after your digestive system, eat healthy food and maintain good digestive health. To know how to do that, keep on reading; we'll cover all of this in this article.
Basic overview of how digestion works
The digestive process works as food and liquid move through your GI tract. It starts as soon as the food enters your mouth, and chewing begins to break into smaller parts. Once it's broken down, the food passes down the GI tract mixing with bile and digestive juice, causing large molecules to break down into smaller molecules.
Once broken, your body absorbs the smaller molecules through the walls of your intestine and into your bloodstream. Nutrients are then delivered in the blood to other areas of your body. Digestion waste products pass through your large intestine and are excreted outside your body, known as faeces/stool.
Causes of digestion related issues
If you have problems with your digestion, it could be due to functional issues. This is when your GI tract does not move properly, causing problems like irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, food poisoning, gas, bloating, Gerd, diarrhoea and more. Other factors that can cause difficulties with digestion are the following:
- Changes to routine
- Not exercising enough
- Eating too many dairy products
- Taking antacid medications that have aluminium or calcium
- Side effects of medications like antidepressants, iron and pain medications
Natural foods/methods to improve digestive health
If you find you suffer from any of the above symptoms, there are some foods that you can eat which may improve your health, which are:
Yoghurt is made from fermented milk, a byproduct of bacteria and lactic acid. When you eat yoghurt, you're consuming a friendly bacteria called probiotics, which promote a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut, keeping it healthy. Even though probiotics are naturally available in your gut, eating yoghurt helps increase your intake. In addition to this, probiotics may also help you digest lactose or sugar more easily.
Note: Not all yoghurt has probiotics, so always check the label to see if "live and active cultures" is mentioned on the packaging.
Another food to consider is chia seeds; they're great for fibre. They work similarly to a prebiotic, promoting healthy bacteria in your gut and allowing you to have healthy digestion. Plus, as they're high in fibre, they can promote regular bowel movement and healthy stools.
Apples contain a lot of pectic, which is a soluble fibre. Pectic is excellent for your body as it skips the digestive process in your small intestine and then is later broken down in your colon by the bacteria there. It helps add mass to your stool, which helps you relieve symptoms of indigestion like diarrhoea and constipation. Research also shows that it can reduce the risk of inflammation in the colon and intestinal infections.
One of the most common causes of constipation and digestive issues is low fluid intake. So you must drink enough water daily to meet your fluid intake. In addition to drinking water, try to consume foods that hold a lot of water, like cucumber, peppers, broccoli, apples, oranges and strawberries.
If you recall earlier, the first part of digestion begins in your mouth. It's your teeth that break down the food first into smaller pieces. If you chew your food slowly and properly, your stomach has less work to do to turn solid food into liquid. It also helps provide salvia, which helps break down carbs and fats in your meal. Chewing slowly and properly allows you to reduce symptoms of heartburn and indigestion.
One of the best ways to help your digestive health is by undertaking frequent exercise. It does not have to be too intense; it can be as simple as taking a walk after you've eaten to help your body move food along. It's thought that too intense exercise may add stress to your stomach and slow down your digestive process. Research also suggests exercises may reduce symptoms associated with inflammatory bowel disease.
One probiotic you can take known to help with digestion is Lactobacillus Rhamnosus. This probiotic has more than 1000 studies and over 30 years of research, showing how it can positively help digestive health and function. The major benefits are:
- Helps elevate your mood
- Aids discomforts associated with digestion
- Helps with increased absorption of nutrients from the food you eat
- Helps you have a clean and health digestive tract
This probiotic uses a sustained-release delivery system, which allows probiotics to bypass harsh stomach acid and allow your gut health to stay intact. It also gives your body 10 billion CFUs (colony-forming units), contributing to normal digestive function.