Belly burn? Gas? Bloating? Constipation? IBS?? All of these are related to the way our body processes food, but it all begins with the food you are asking your body to process.
Pipes in the House
Think about the plumbing system in your home. You may have read some guidelines about what is okay to put down your sink drain, bathtub drain and even your toilet. If you stay within the guidelines, your home plumbing should work very efficiently for many years. Put a lot of grease, hair, or large materials in any of the drains and your troubles begin.
Digestion Is More than Your Belly
When your digestion is off, is your stomach the first thing you think of? I’m going to take you through the whole system, because often the trouble doesn’t lie in the stomach but in one of the other organs that are part of this complex system called digestion.
What’s Up There?
To begin, look above your stomach - you may find the trouble right at the start of your digestive system. Start with your mouth - are your teeth in good condition and are you using them to chew, chew, chew your food before you swallow it? In doing so, you will activate digestive enzymes in your saliva that activate the nutrients in the food you are eating. If you do not properly chew your food, your esophagus will need to work harder to pass the food through, and stomach’s role of breaking down food with its acid will be more difficult. .
By chewing your food your brain also has time to quiet the appetite mechanisms - a big help in weight management.
Once the food passes from the stomach, the action intensifies. There are all sorts of organs that contribute to the processing of your food from here on. There’e a force called peristalsis that begins in the mouth and continues all the way through the digestive system. Peristalsis is a series of muscular contractions that moves things along in a rhythmic pattern to all the processing stations in your digestive system. It sends food out of the stomach to the small intestine where a mass of tiny fibers pulls nutrients from the food and sends the rest on its way. The liver, gall bladder and pancreas release enzymes to further break down food, sporting out and assisting with absorption of what your body needs and passing the rest forward to the large intestine or colon. From there, provided you have a fair amount of fiber in your diet, your body will excrete the waste in a bowel movement.
How You Help
As you can see, digestion is a complex series of events. The quality depends very much on what you put in your body. Here are some tips for supporting your digestion:
- Eat regular meals - it will support your body’s natural rhythm or peristalsis
- Make fruits and veggies the main event - they are nutrient rich, delicious and full of fiber
- Eat real food - that is, food in its natural form, not dried and packaged with artificial ingredients. Vary your diet and be alert for any food sensitivities
- Drink lots of water - it will help with digestion
- Remember that your stomach needs acid to do its work. If you have acid indigestion, look at what you are eating first and make changes before you take an antacid
- Have your last meal at least 3 hours before bedtime so you can properly digest.
The food you put in your body will determine the overall well-being of your digestive system. Unlike plumbing systems, your digestive system will last your entire lifetime if you put the right foods in it. Simply follow my six tips and you will be on your way to better digestion, no matter what your age.