I see a lot of digestive problems in my private practice. No surprise, considering that every year approximately 70 million adults in America suffer from tummy troubles such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, constipation, and numerous other symptoms that cause discomfort or worse.
Poor digestion can also be at the root of a bunch of other problems such as fatigue, skin rashes, headaches, poor concentration, and moodiness— symptoms you wouldn’t think had anything to do with digestion.
And it’s not as though you can just avoid food to make the problems go away, right? Aside from needing food to live, food is a national obsession! Doesn’t it seem as if our lives revolve around it? We’re perpetually planning the next meal. The first date is always over dinner. From the Thanksgiving feast to Fourth of July cookouts, every holiday we celebrate boils down to sitting around a table and stuffing ourselves.
Although I’m not able to change the fact that food plays a central role in our lives, I can help keep your digestive system healthy.
Doctor’s orders: Get serious about your digestive health. The first step is to gain a basic understanding of the structures and functions involved in digestion. Shall we begin?
Digestive System 101
Put simply, digestion is your body’s process of extracting the necessary nutrients and energy from the food you eat. And the process begins even before you put one morsel into your mouth—just smelling something like bacon sizzling in the pan, or chocolate chip cookies emerging from the oven starts your digestion. You may even be salivating just thinking about it!
That saliva is the first step. Once you do eat, saliva breaks down the food a little, along with chewing, both of which make it possible for you to swallow the food. Your tongue gets into the act, too, by pushing the food toward your esophagus. The main job of your esophagus is sto move the food down to the next stop on the path, which is your stomach. Next, your stomach uses powerful gastric juices to take that food from a solid to a liquid to make the work easier for your small intestines.
Digestive Problems? How Your Digestive System Ages
If you don’t want to get sick (who does?) and want to delay aging (who doesn’t?), and if you want to stay in a good mood and feel wonderful in general, then a healthy digestive system should be your priority. When your digestive system is in trouble, even the most nutritious diet wont help you.
Inflammation can wreak havoc on your entire body, and your digestive system is no exception. If any stop along the way on the digestive journey becomes inflamed, you can experience annoying, even painful symptoms, which can become chronic if left untreated.
Long-term inflammation in the digestive tract can also wear down your stomach or intestinal lining and leave you vulnerable to a host of serious illnesses, including cancer. So, part of the game plan for protecting health of your digestive system is to prevent or stop inflammation.
Signs of an aging digestive system include symptoms ranging from the rather benign, such as frequent constipation, to semi-serious diseases like GERD, ulcers, and irritable bowel syndrome, to the life threatening, such as colorectal cancer.
The Number One Strategy for Digestive Health: Probiotics
Most of today’s digestive distress remedies treat mainly the symptoms (providing short term relief), and they upset the balance of bacteria in your gut. This can lead to incomplete digestion of food or to more serious disorders. If large food molecules cant pass through your intestinal wall, they’ll provoke an immune response within your body, which could eventually lead to an autoimmune disorder.
Faulty digestion can also prevent important nutrients from being absorbed by the body. And some scientists believe that incomplete digestion of proteins can make you more susceptible to serious disease.
When looking for a probiotic product, select a multi-strain probiotic, which means it has multiple types of friendly bacteria listed in the ingredients. You want several strains because each one has different benefits. One strain may improve overall digestion, another boosts immunity, still others ease diarrhea and digestive problems, and some promote overall colon health.
If you really want to lose weight and shed pounds, take the time to learn more about my 17 Day Diet Meal Plan. You’ll learn how to start eating healthy to lose weight safely while dining out as well as create a regular meal plan.
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