Healthy Digestion: You need it to be healthy, look fit and live longer
Healthy digestion, which includes regular bathroom visits, is essential for properly absorbing nutrients for energy and detoxing our bodies of waste. If we want to be healthy, look fit and live longer we cannot ignore the health of our digestive system.
With the prevalence of acid reflux, constipation, gastrointestinal (GI) inflammation, food allergies, and bloating, it’s clear our digestive systems are under attack and malfunctioning.
Taking OTC or Prescription Drugs is expensive and not a solution
Many of us take antacids, laxatives, and diarrhea remedies just to survive the daily battle of digesting foods and eliminating waste. But this shouldn’t be the case.
Our bodies know how to recognize and absorb foods and eliminate waste. So what’s really happening to our digestive health? There are three major culprits attacking our digestive system these days: dehydration, poor nutrition (or the wrong diet) and chronic stress.
The goods news is that we can make some simple daily lifestyle changes to heal and restore our digestive health, and to avoid unpleasant bathroom visits and spending lots of money at the drug store. And the changes we need to make are not complicated. They revolve around the familiar daily choices we make about our nutrition, hydration, exercise and sleep.
Before we look at our daily choices, let’s review what we need to know about the digestive system to remedy our current situation.
Quick Overview of the Digestive System:
What you really need to know
While this may feel like a trip back to biology class, it’s important to understand how our digestive system works to identify the culprits creating dysfunction and ways we can quickly remedy the problem with our daily choices.
The Primary Organs of the Digestive System
The Basics: Things to Know
MOUTH: The Basics
- The digestive process begins in the mouth.
- When you chew, enzymes from your saliva mix with food to breakdown carbohydrates.
- Chewing slowly liquifies food for digestion in the stomach and intestines.
MOUTH: Things to Know
- Common dehydration prevents adequate saliva production which means foods cannot be properly prepared for digestion in the stomach and intestines.
- Chewing and swallowing too quickly leaves food particles too large for stomach acids to break down.
- Large food particles also make it difficult for the small intestine to absorb and extract nutrients for energy in the body.
- And fungi and parasites have a better chance of surviving the stomach when present in larger food particles leading to overactive immune responses down the road.
STOMACH: The Basics
- Food particles enter the stomach and mix with enzymes and hydrochloric acid (HCl) produced in the cells of the stomach wall.
- Proteins are broken down into amino acids for absorption in the small intestine.
- Hydrochloric acid kills any unfriendly bacteria, germs, fungi and parasites.
- Proper digestion in the stomach is dependent on adequate production of HCl and digestive enzymes.
STOMACH: Things to Know
- Dehydration makes the stomach susceptible to ulcers and prevents digestive enzymes from working properly.
- Medications may give temporary relief to acid reflux or constipation but many eventually lead to the overproduction of stomach acid and greater dehydration only perpetuating the problem.
SMALL INTESTINE: The Basics
- Is roughly 25 feet long (6-7 meters) and each section is lined with special receptor sites that absorb food particles.
- Digestive enzymes from the pancreas and bile from the liver are released into the small intestine to aid in the digestion of food particles.
- Once the receptor sites have digested food particles, they are sent through the portal vein to the liver for processing.
- From the liver, the processed food is delivered to the cells of the body via the bloodstream to be converted into energy and to support building and repair in the body.
- Any unwanted or indigestible food particles are sent to the colon before leaving the body.
SMALL INTESTINE: Things to Know
- Processed foods made with chemical additives, preservatives, colorings, stabilizers and emulsifiers are not recognized as real food by the receptors in the small intestine or the antibodies of the immune system.
- The small intestine cannot and will not absorb the processed food particles.
- The immune system views these particles as chemical invaders acting with the intestinal tract to dilute and remove them from the body via a quick run to the bathroom.
- If not removed, the processed food particles trigger the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and activate the “fight-or-flight”response.
- Activating the SNS or “fight-or-flight” response slows digestion and elimination of waste resulting in constipation and, over time, a toxic colon.
LARGE INTESTINE (or) COLON: The Basics
- Is roughly five feet long (1.5 meters) and three inches in diameter.
- It acts as a specialized organ recycling useful water for the body and producing certain vitamins.
- There are trillions of bacteria inside a healthy colon, some friendly and some unfriendly.
- The friendly bacteria produce vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, A and K and a lactic acid byproduct.
- The lactic acid byproduct stimulates movement of the colon and eventually prompts a bathroom visit.
LARGE INTESTINE (or) COLON: Things to Know
- Consuming poor quality, especially processed foods, can create an alkaline environment in the colon which promotes constipation and overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria.
- Slow acting or outnumbered friendly bacteria inhibit movement of the colon and further promote constipation and create an inviting environment for unfriendly bacteria.
- Not drinking enough water or too much caffeine dehydrates the body requiring the colon to squeeze as much water from waste as possible. This results in constipation and the absorption of toxic fluids into the bloodstream.
- Generally, you are considered constipated if you are not eliminating 12 inches in a day.