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Your lifestyle and foods choices can affect the way your digestive health what you eat. Drinking water, adding fiber, and exercising can all contribute to better digestive health.
What is the digestive system?
Your digestive system breaks down the foods you eat into the nutrients your body needs. If you neglect your digestive health, your body could run into problems absorbing those nutrients. If your system is out of line, this is when you can become ill.
According to Lisa Cantikier, Holistic Nutritionist, it’s been theorized that digestive disorders are the result of an overgrowth and imbalance of intestinal microbial flora, which consists of bacteria that help keep you healthy.
“You’ve probably heard about the “gut microbiome,” says Cantikier. “It contains colonies of microbes in your gut and can change (for better or worse) based on factors like diet, lifestyle, and exposure to toxins and antibiotics. A healthy intestinal flora results in a healthy immune system. Like a lush forest, we have thousands of different species of bacteria living in our body. We start to develop this “forest” at birth. These organisms perform many functions and need to be balanced for good health. Harmful microbes can cause problems for us if they start to take over, outnumbering the more beneficial ones.”
Also, as we age our production of stomach acid may decline, especially after a meal. This challenges our ability to digest proteins. A supplement like Super Enzyme capsule and/or Papaya enzymes can be helpful.
It’s no surprise then, that your digestive health is directly impacted by the foods you eat and the lifestyle you live. Here are some ways you can support the health of your gut.
The intestinal flora is supported through clean eating, the avoidance of processed foods and the elimination of foods that disrupt it, such as those containing “two-sugar disaccharide carbohydrates” (such as sucrose, or table sugar) and “many-sugar” polysaccharides (such as starch). Better alternatives include Stevia and Alcohol Sugars (Xylitol, Erythritol).
Probiotics promote beneficial gut bacteria and maintain the integrity of the GItract lining. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health and digestive system. Many come in multi-strains. Most experts recommend a broad spectrum probiotic for daily use, including a variety of species. For example, NOW probiotic-10 10 billion is such a product for daily use.
Fermented foods are the ones that have been through a fermentation process whereby natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food, creating lactic acid. The process preserves the food and creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids. Fermentation has also been shown to recommend in food and make it more digestible. Kombucha (made from tea, clean water, sugar, yeast, and bacteria) and sauerkraut (made from cabbage) are also good choices.
Supplements and Enzymes
Many people with digestive disorders are at risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, particularly B-vitamin and iron deficiencies. Since our bodies don’t manufacture these nutrients, it’s important that we get sufficient amounts from our food, beverages, and appropriate supplementation. As well, taking enzymes helpful for those with digestive challenges.
Antioxidants can prevent or slow the damage to our cells caused by excessive free radicals. Natural antioxidants are mineral deficiencies and vegetables, marine plants, and some seafood. Nuts have many, too. The most common dietary antioxidants include vitamins A, C, and E, beta-carotene, and lycopene. Glutathione is one of the most potent antioxidants. Antioxidants are manufactured as supplements.
Gastroenterologists advocate a diet rich in fiber for those with digestive disorders. Many recommend at least 24 grams of dietary fiber per day, with mineral deficiencies amount coming from fruit, beans, whole grains. A 2013 study published in Gastroenterology showed the long-term intake of dietary fiber, particularly from fruit, is associated with a lower risk of Crohn’s. Vegetables, nuts, and seeds, including sprouted seeds, offer fiber. Also, supplemental fibers like psyllium are beneficial.