What is Digestive Health, exactly?
Most people only think of their digestive system as being their stomach to their bowels, but it involves so much more. Making sure each part of the system is working properly is important in order to feel your best. So, how do we make sure our whole digestive system is healthy? And why should we care?
What Does the Digestive System include?
One of my favorite ways to illustrate the parts of the digestive system is this graphic from the Nutritional Therapy Association. I think it explains it perfectly.
As you can see, it starts in your brain and ends, well, at the end. There are many other “side factors” that have an impact on the flow of digestion. For example, the liver and gall bladder. The food doesn’t directly pass through these organs, but they do play a large part in breakdown and flow of the food as it travels through the system.
Why is it important?
The digestive system not only affects how your stomach feels during and after meals, but it has affects on other systems of the body.
Immune system: this can get quite complicated, but poor digestion can cause you to be sick more often, it can also affect how your body’s immune system responds to different things.
Nutrient Absorption: this is something I have dealt with personally with Gastroparesis, but when you don’t digest correctly, your body can struggle with absorbing the nutrients. Deficiencies in different nutrients can cause a domino effect of issues. (hair loss, PMS issues, skin issues, dental issues and more)
Fatty Acid Deficiencies: fats take a while to break down in your digestive system, so having it working from the get go is super important. If your body can breakdown and use the fats appropriately, you will start seeing issues with hormone production and use, it can affect how well your muscles can perform and even brain function.
Sugar Handling: something those of us with Gastroparesis deal with is sugar cravings. That is usually because of our poor digestion. We aren’t getting to use the energy source fully from the food, so we crave that energy spike. So, we turn to sugar. However, this is similar to those without GP. The mishandling of sugar can lead to diabetes and that is not something you want to do.
There are more side effects from poor digestion, but I think this covers the main things. Also, I don’t want this blog to be forever long. But I also think this illustrates how important it is to get your system functioning properly.
How Do You Keep it Healthy?
There are a myriad of things you can do and I am sure there are plenty of “quick fix” products people will try to sell you to get to it, but most of it can be achieved through simple, natural fixes.
Increase acid production (controversial, I know, but it’s true. If you would like to discuss this further, we can) Can be done with more fermented foods, lemon water, ACV and more.
A good probiotic. Something I like to do is sip on Kombucha throughout the week, never drinking a full bottle at once. Too much at once can bloat you.
Chewing your food at minimum 15x each bite. Similarly, putting your fork or spoon down in between bites. Also, “chewing” your smoothies or soups will help let your brain know
Get active!! I don’t mean doing 1 hour HIIT workouts. I just mean simple walks. This awakens your system to start moving food through.
Don’t lay down after eating a meal.
Stay hydrated with water. Sip on it, don’t chug it, between meals.
Simple fixes you could literally start doing tomorrow!
Start implementing some of these things, give it a few days and you will start noticing some differences. Then, if you want more help, that’s what I am here for!
Keep it Fresh. Keep it Simple. Keep it Real.