With some top tips to aid your digestion!
You might be surprised to hear that a whopping 86 percent of us Brits suffer with digestive ailments every year! Digestive issues are on the rise and as good digestion is so important to our health, it’s about time we started talking about it.
Indigestion (dyspepsia) can include symptoms such as chest and stomach discomfort, bloating, wind and stomach rumbling, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting. Low levels of stomach acid may be due to eating too quickly, eating too much food (especially fatty food) and even drinking large quantities of fluid. Chloride is a component of gastric acid and therefore can be taken as a supplement to help in its production. Apple cider vinegar also has similar properties and may help with the initial stages of digestion. It also contains a variety of vitamins, minerals and enzymes which are beneficial to health. If you are sensitive to the acidity and want to be kinder to your teeth, consider taking it in a capsule form as oppose to the liquid, which needs to be diluted and may leave a bitter aftertaste.
As well as indigestion, another troublesome issue at this stage is the condition heartburn which causes acid to move up from the stomach to the oesophagus and create a burning sensation. Acid should be controlled by the oesophageal sphincter, a muscle which shuts tightly after food has passed into the stomach. However, smoking, being pregnant or overweight and a poor diet can weaken this muscle, making acid spill up into the oesophagus, causing the burning sensation of heartburn. It may also be a sign of low digestive enzymes – therefore taking a supplement prior to eating may help. Choose a digestive enzyme supplement that helps to break down proteins, carbohydrates and fats and contains a small about of betaine hydrochloride to assist enzymatic function, which should be taken before each meal.
After the stomach, food then travels to the small intestines where 95 percent of nutrients are absorbed through tiny fingerlike projections called villi. Here digestive juices from the pancreas further break down proteins and also bile salts from the liver help to break down fats. However, gas can occur at this stage, especially if some sugars and starches have not been properly digested. Taking activated charcoal is a great way to prevent passing wind and minimise any offensive smells. Then once all the good stuff is taken from the small intestines, the final components of food reach the large intestine.
It is here where the final stages of digestion occur with the help of probiotics. Probiotics form a major part of our gut flora and are essential to our overall wellbeing. They reside alongside our immune cells, which are found within the lining of our large intestine and are key to our immune health. Fermented foods such as kefir and sauerkraut are probiotic. Prebiotic foods, such as leeks, garlic and honey can aid the growth of the gut flora and therefore should be consumed regularly within the diet. If you suffer from IBS, constipation or diarrhoea, then you may benefit from taking probiotic supplements.
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