It is rightly said that you are what you eat. In fact, we would go a step further to say that you are what your digestive system can absorb.
Your digestive tract – that mysterious 30-foot tube – holds the key to your health and needs to be in good condition to deliver nutrients to their digestion and absorption points. Your digestive health has a direct link to your body’s health.
The human stomach is filled with a naturally produced acidic liquid that activates digestive enzymes that will break down a wide variety of consumed foods. Excess stomach acid can cause severe problems and painful symptoms. Heartburn is one such example. This is a burning sensation near the heart which can be aggravated by spicy food and cause severe damage to the sensitive tissue of the esophagus and throat.
So, instead of just feeding our taste buds we should be thinking about how it affects our digestive health. Here are some important steps to good digestion:
Choose high quality, fresh organic food Incorporate a healthy mix of raw and cooked foods in your diet. Follow the 80/20 rule – 80% of your plate should be full of healthy vegetables.
Chew thoroughly Digestion of carbohydrates (starches, sugars) starts in your mouth with saliva and enzymes. The enzymes not only help break down your food, they also attack bacteria. Most people don’t chew thoroughly, which makes digestion of food much harder when it reaches the stomach. Chewing is stage one of proper digestion.
Understand the importance of stomach acid (Hydrochloric Acid – HCL) Stage two of good digestion happens in the stomach. It is the stomach’s job to temporarily hold food and begin to break it down. Stomach acid is important for in this stage of digestion, while it does not actually digest the food, it triggers the enzymes that break down protein. Stomach acid also destroys pathogenic bacteria and parasites.
Avoid eating disorders Extreme dieting, eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia can cause extensive damage to the digestive system. When the body does not receive enough food or is forced to regurgitate ingested food, stomach acid can increase substantially. These are the conditions that can result in longterm harm. It is important to follow a dietary and nutritional programme supervised by a doctor.
Pay attention to digestive enzymes Your food moves from your stomach to your small intestine, where 90% of nutrients are absorbed. Your pancreas produces digestive enzymes so that you can digest carbohydrates, fats and proteins. It is important to understand these processes so you can make the right choice of food.
Hydrate Sufficient amounts of water can help regulate the acidity of the stomach. Drink eight to ten glasses of water a day.
Instead of just living to eat, we should eat to live – a sensible diet will help make the digestive system work as it needs to and improve our quality of life.