When the phrase “digestive problems” comes up many people think of heartburn, acid reflux or even a stomach ache but it could mean many other things as well. Our digestive system is a central part of our body and many medical scientists believe healthy digestion is the root to natural wellness.
Our bodies break down the food we eat and use the nutrients as fuel. Once energy is taken from the food through digestion and metabolism, the remainder is removed through the bowel.
When we chew food gastric juices help release the nutrients. Once we swallow, the food is pumped from the stomach into the small intestine where it gets flooded with fluid and enzymes from both the liver and pancreas. These chemicals help break up the molecules from the food into small pieces. The smallest of nutrients are absorbed while the largest make their way to the large intestine where they become fecal matter. The system can break down when it is abused though. Evidence shows that highly processed foods, as well as our stressful lifestyles can disrupt the enzymes that make digestion easy. This makes digestion harder, our bodies are then robbed of energy and nutrition…the end result is a host of health problems.
The National Institutes of Health estimates that somewhere between 60 and 70 million Americans suffer from digestive problems. Back in 2004 just over 200 thousand deaths in the U.S were associated with digestive problems. Digestive problems include abdominal wall hernias, chronic constipation, gallstones, diverticular disease, inflammatory bowel disease, hemorrhoids, GI infections, colitis, irritable bowel, peptic ulcers…and the list goes on.
Research shows that digestive problems are not confined to the above ailments. Digestion can impact many aspects of our health including our hormones, our auto immune system and even our chances of getting cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute about 25 percent of all cancers are GI related. Examples include colon, rectum, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, and liver.
There are over 80 different auto immune disorders. Studies show many genetic predispositions to auto immune diseases are kept under control thanks to diet, lifestyle and the elimination of stress; all factors that are also connected to digestion.
North Americans are no strangers to bacterial digestive infections. It could be as simple as consuming tainted food or water. Commonly, it occurs if meat is not cooked properly. Doctor Daniel Kalish has conducted extensive research on digestive problems and has said what many people don’t realize is that chronic digestive infections over active the stress hormone system. As a result fat burning slows down and fatigue and depression set in.
Most people don’t think much about it, but taking time to chew food thoroughly is a very important step to healthy digestion. Additionally, before even putting anything inside the mouth we have to consider diet. Foods that are high in fiber are highly recommended. They not only help regulate bowels, they are known to assist in lowering cholesterol and controlling blood sugar levels. Including a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables in our diet is a good way to avoid digestive problems. For more digestive health tips you can follow the link below to the American College of Gastroenterology http://patients.gi.org/topics/digestive-health-tips/.
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