It’s hard to believe, but 70 million American suffer from a digestive disorder such as Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, diverticulosis, or one of many others. There are so many factors that affect our digestion, and even though it sounds funny, digestion, in turn, affects the whole body and our lives. The foods we eat, experiences we have, and environmental factors we expose ourselves to all have an effect on the digestive system. Read on for your ultimate guide to elusive, but all-important, perfect digestion.
Your body absorbs the energy and nutrients it needs through your digestive process. If food is not being processed properly, your immune system won’t function as well as it should. Your energy levels may be low. Chronic pain from intestinal or stomach problems can lead to depression. Even your brain needs the right fuel in the right quantities to work as it should.
Which Part of Your GI Tract Does What?
Your tongue will signal the type of food that you’re eating. You may crave something salty or sweet based on what your body needs at that time. Saliva in the mouth assists in breaking down the food, along with your teeth, of course. Saliva also lubricates the esophagus to make it possible to swallow.
The stomach further breaks down food with acids and churning. The small intestines separate out the nutrients and allow your body to absorb them. The large intestine finishes up the process and gets the remaining waste ready for expulsion.
How You Can Aid Your Digestion
Here’s what can you do to help your body digest what you consume:
- Choose wisely – setting aside fads and fringe diets, you can generally tell when you’re eating something that isn’t the best for your body. Too much of any one type of food can offset an otherwise balanced diet, whether it’s red meat, simple carbs, greasy food, or even vegetables. Keep it as simple as you can, avoid processed food, and pay attention to how eating certain things makes your body feel.
- Exercise – your body is not meant to function without regular movement. Move your body and move your bowels. A sedentary lifestyle is not good for any part of your health. Take breaks, take the stairs, get outside.
- Chew wisely – when you’re eating, take small bites and chew your food thoroughly. It will help you to slow down so you can better tell when you’re full and should stop eating. Better chewing means the rest of your digestive system won’t have to work as hard.
- Eat peacefully – before you start to eat, take some deep breaths from your gut. Close your eyes and do what it takes to relax. It’s important not to multitask when you’re eating. Not paying attention to your food leads to problems all the way down the digestive line.
- Take a probiotic – probiotics can help balance the healthy bacteria in the gut. It can take time to notice a difference, so stick with it for a couple of weeks. It could help your belly to calm down.
- Pay attention – if something is wrong that lasts more than a day or so, see a doctor. There are many tests and treatments available for digestive conditions. Once things are back in order, you’ll know how to maintain digestive health.
If you have digestive problems or stomach pain of any kind, Carlisle Digestive Disease Associates can help. Our board-certified physicians have served this area since 1990. For preventive screenings or treatment for acute or chronic GI conditions, call our Carlisle, Pennsylvania, office for an appointment at (717) 245-2228.