What we eat and assimilate is so important for the health and wellbeing of every cell in our body. This is how we get the nutrients that keep us alive and well. A sick gut can leave us with a myriad of problems, whereas a healthy gut can have us feeling full of energy and running in tip top shape.
If this topic is of interest to you, check out these two earlier posts – Quick Tips for Better Digestion – Part 1 and Quick Tips for Better Digestion – Part 2. They both list more tips to keep your gastointestinal (GI) tract going smoothly.
The Journey of One Bite
The automatic movement of food down the digestive tract is called peristalsis and is so automatic that even if you were eating upside down, your food ball would still get to the next stop.
Our favourite food is no longer recognizable! The stomach is not a place of absorption, other than alcohol and aspirin. All the contents continue to move on.
The Small Intestine
When the chyme reaches this stage, carbohydrates and proteins have only been partially digested whereas the fats have been left almost untouched. At this point, juices from the pancreas and gallbladder (bile) are released. They are responsible for making the chyme more basic (from acidic), complete the digestion of starch, continue protein digestion, and are totally responsible for fat digestion.
The Large Intestine
When the large intestine has absorbed all the water and nutrients it can, what is left is a solid product containing undigested food particles, mucus, millions of bacteria, and just enough water for smooth passage. This is what feces is made of. Interesting, no?!
The journey is over with the release of feces which ideally happens once to three times per day.
The Benefits Of A Healthy Gut
Celiac disease, food allergies and sensitivities, gas, bloating, digestive pain, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine headaches, anxiety, depression, skin inflammation, nutritional deficiencies, the list of maladies goes on.
When our gastrointestinal tract is not working optimally, we pay the price. If you are feeling anything but energetic and happy to be alive, then you may want to work at supporting this system. Below I have listed some easy ways to work at supporting this system. It is just a basic, general list.
- Chew food 20-30 times per bite. This takes the unnecessary stress off of your stomach and will help everything flow easier.
- Drink before or after a meal, not during
- Eat in a relaxed state of mind
- Eat a bitter food before a meal – the bitter taste sets off the digestive cascade
- Reduce alcohol, tobacco, nitrates, caffeine, sugar
- Increase fiber and water intake
- Increase the amount of whole foods while decreasing processed/refined foods
- Avoid bad fats (trans) or too much fat. This will strain the small intestine and overburden the liver and gallbladder.
To check out more ways to help digestion check out two other posts where I go into detail about each of the suggestions (Quick Tips for Better Digestion – Part 1 and Quick Tips for Better Digestion – Part 2.)