By: Cindy Papp
Good digestion is important for good health. Digestion affects your metabolism, your hormonal system and your nervous system. If you don’t take good care of this area, problems arise from ulcers to Irritable Bowel Syndrome. In some cases, digestion can even be shut down.
Your gut area, including the stomach, small and large intestine, are known as the “enteric nervous system,” or second brain. Nearly every brain-regulating chemical is made in this area, including hormones and neurotransmitters. When your digestion is out of balance, the manufacture of these chemicals may be affected, which in turn can affect your emotional state.
Besides taking expensive digestive enzymes, there are some things that you can do to help your body and digestion naturally. Here are four tips to get you started.
Tip Number 1: Chew your food well, because good digestion starts in the mouth. Many people believe if they don’t chew enough, then it will simply take longer to digest in the stomach. Unfortunately not only is this not true, but could lead to problems.
Chewing your food serves two purposes. First, to break down the food into softer substance. This makes it easier for the stomach to break down and to swallow. Secondly, chewing starts the digestive process. Your saliva contains enzymes that break down the sugars in carbohydrates and enzymes that start the breakdown of fats. If you don’t start this process in your mouth, then the food cannot be broken down in the stomach or intestine.
Thoroughly chewing your food is actually more difficult than it sounds. Many people chew a few times then swallow. This may be because of habit or being short on time. But your digestion and your health will thank you if you take your time and chew until all the food is broken down before you swallow.
Tip Number 2: To help your body achieve good digestion, be aware of the portions of food you eat, and don’t over eat. Your body can only break down so much food at one time. If you eat too much, your body will not digest it later. It may even just sit in the digestive tract and contribute to excess, built-up waste in your body – otherwise known as gaining weight.
To start with, when eating proteins, make sure your serving is about the size of your palm. This will help to give you an idea of a portion that is good for your body without having to weight and measure.
Overeating proteins is one of the biggest contributors to excess weight gain, and makes sense since your body can only digest small amounts of protein at a time. If not digested shortly after it is eaten, it can easily get stored and even cause added fat in your body – no matter how lean the protein is.
In addition to controlling your protein serving, be cautious of the amount of starches you eat. These types of foods can easily cause an unwanted spike in blood sugar. Too much can interfere with your body’s protein digestion and contribute to weight gain. Stick to about one-half to one cup per meal. Look for the easier to digest starches such as quinoa or basmati rice.
Tip Number 3: Be sure your intestinal bacteria is in check. Bacteria, both good and bad, is found in your digestive tract including your small intestine and colon. Good bacteria is imperative for good digestion.
Good bacteria are responsible for killing bad guys such as harmful bacteria (including e.coli) and other pathogens that can wreak havoc in your system. They also can help reduce gas and stomach bloat, help break down soluble fibers which help prevent bad cholesterol build-up and reduce inflammation.
Keep your good bacteria in check by eating plenty of whole, unprocessed vegetables, fruits, and whole, unprocessed grains. These are the building blocks your body needs to manufacture good bacteria. In addition, eat foods that include good bacteria such as yogurt and kifir.
Tip Number 4: Cleanse your colon and your body. Good digestion can never happen if the digestive tract is blocked or weighed down with excess waste. Build-up can happen in these tubes just as build-up occurs in your bloodstream even though your blood continuously flows.
Be sure to consume natural fibers that can help clear this area, such as those found in whole fruits and vegetables. A fiber supplement can help as long as it doesn’t clog your body. For more intensive cleansing, a colon cleansing program may help your body remove excess waste.
Your food choices and lifestyle will be more important than anything else you will do to help your digestion. Help your body stay healthy and take the steps you need to improve your health with good digestion.