We can’t stress enough how important your digestion is to your overall health and wellbeing. Here’s the lowdown: It breaks down the foods you eat into nutrients – think glucose (sugar), amino acids (protein) and fatty acids (you guessed it, fats) – which your body uses for energy, growth, and cell repair. Picture a long muscular tube – it’s up to 10 meters long – that begins at the mouth, ends at the anus, and connects your stomach, large and small intestines, liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. From the small intestine, your blood absorbs the nutrients and carries them to cells throughout your body. Your large intestine, in particular, hosts a big reservoir of microbes, such as bacteria, which play an influential role in healthy digestion.
Have we mentioned that your brain takes about 20 minutes to realize that your stomach is full?
This rule of thumb suggests that satiety, or feeling full, happens as a result of many body signals. These are triggered when food or fluid is ingested, digested and absorbed, which takes a certain amount of time. But it also shows how interconnected the various systems in your body are.
What does effective digestion actually contribute to?
A stronger immune system, better heart and brain health, improved mood, and restorative sleep, to name but a few. For one thing, about 70 per cent of your immune system lives in your gut; compromising your gut health, in turn, also increases your risk for chronic conditions. A healthy gut also clears your skin and can prevent hair loss. In contrast, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and nausea, among others, are common negative symptoms. Of course, there are many more – and more serious – effects. In fact, globally, a third of the population has functional bowel problems at some point in their lives. If any of these symptoms carry on for a longer period, please consult your trusted health practitioner*.
Natural Ways to Boost Your Digestion
01 Eat real food: That’s right, avoid refined carbs, saturated fats, and food additives. Instead, indulge in fresh, organic produce – from vegetables and fruits to legumes, there’s options galore.
02 Eat fiber-rich produce: Avocados, broccoli, berries, whole grains, beans, peas, sweet potatoes, oranges – the choice is yours.
03 Eat healthy fats: We’re thinking of Omega-3-rich foods like salmon and sardines. Vegetarian or vegan? Go for chia seeds, nuts, avocados, spinach, and kale.
04 Stay hydrated: Drink your water, and opt for vegetables and fruit with high water content.
05 Exercise regularly: A series of muscle contractions move food and digested material through your body. Exercising therefore increases your metabolism, which makes these muscle contractions more frequent. Try to carve out about 30 minutes every day.
Further explore the topic of digestive disorders with our audio and video content pieces. They offer holistic solutions and expert advice, and will empower you to take an active and preventative role in your health.