Having a poor digestion is more common that you may think: and it's because nobody ever likes to talk about it. It's embarrassing. Yet, think about the supermarkets and TV adverts, if you really pay attention, you will notice that many are promoting the goodness of a better digestion. Funny really, apart from feeling sluggish and meh, why is having a good digestion so important.
Firstly, why are so many of us suffering with such as simple thing?
Rushed eating, stress, and medication can all lead to decreased digestion, and the modern lifestyle means these factors are present in abundance.
There are actually many ways we can improve digestion through the foods that we eat and the ways in which we eat them.
Stress and Poor Digestion
Stress can constitute as anything that puts a strain on the body. For instance, physical activity and day-to-day dramas that can lead our bodies into heightened flight or fight modes.
When our body does this, the blood and energy are moved away from our digestive area towards more important organs such as the heart and lungs – so our body is properly prepared to survive the danger.
If we're not in a relaxed state when eating, there isn't enough blood or hormones to digest your food efficiently and consequently, you feel poo. Relax, chill out, switch off and enjoy your food. Think about it: you'll feel better later and will get more done by taking those extra 10 minutes.
Chewing Your Food and Poor Digestion
It used to be a common phrase in our household;
"Sit down and chew your food properly"
I must put into context, that my brother and I were about 6-10 years old and very fidgety to leave the table to go play but those were some wise words from our mother.
The mouth is involved in both mechanical and chemical digestive processes. The mechanical processes involve the breaking down of food into smaller pieces. The food is then ready to be broken down by chemical processes in the body. The mouth is also home to three sets of salivary glands which release an enzyme called salivary amylase.
Hence, why chewing our food is very important if we want good digestion. Chewing is the body's way of telling the stomach to get the juices flowing, it's time to eat!
The Stomach and Poor Digestion
So imagine being inside an erupting volcano. You know, with all the lava spurting etc. Well, that is your stomach essentially but with just a very acidic liquid environment, hydrochloric acid (HCl) so to speak.
Despite what you may think, you may be experiencing:
Because you have a low HCI. No worries, you can naturally improve your level by drinking apple cider vinegar, lemon juice or by taking supplements such as HCI betaine.
The Liver, The Gallbladder and Poor Digestion
The liver is responsible for the metabolism of all fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. It detoxifies toxins and drugs and metabolises bile which is secreted into the small intestine and stored in the gallbladder. This bile is very important for the emulsification of fats. If you have had your gallbladder removed, then metabolising fat may be more difficult for your body; supplements such as bile salts or ox bile may be beneficial in this case.
The Small Intestine and Poor Digestion
The small intestine participates in all aspects of digestion, absorption, and transportation. Food is either broken down into its constituents of amino acids, fatty acids, and glucose, or it isn’t. If it isn’t you may develop stomach or digestive disruption, irritation, or malabsorption. Food particles mix with enzymes, stomach acid, and bile and interact with the “brush border” of the small intestine as it passes through. It is here that the body decides whether it recognises the food particles as food or whether it views it as an enemy. If the small intestine views a food as an enemy it launches an immune attack which presents itself as digestive discomfort or pretty much any inflammatory response in your body. If you have digestive issues further up your body (e.g. low HCl, low enzyme secretion, etc.) you are more likely to experience digestive issues in the small intestine. To avoid these issues you should avoid all common allergens and hard-to-digest food such as grains and legumes.
The Large Intestine and Poor Digestion
This is the location where for the absorption of water and the uptake of micronutrients left behind by the work of the small intestine. In addition, this is also where your poo is formed. Ideally, you would want the time it takes to pass through at around 10hours, however, it can be up to 3 days ! Ekk!
Test your guts by consuming foods whole such as sweetcorn and sesame seeds and see how long it takes.
Gut flora. A word you may recognise from the television. This is where the majority are present. Drinking adequate amount of water and eating fermented food such as sauerkraut and kimichi as well as good probiotics will help.
Finally, eating foods rich in soluble fibre such as oats, sweet potato and dates also help too.
Feel free to ask questions and we'll be more than happy to help <3
Author: Charleh Dickinson
Disclaimer: Please note that we are not a professionally qualified Doctor, Dietician or Nutritionist. The information on our blogs are based only on my own experiences and the research we have found in academia.
If you are interested in changing your diet we would highly recommend doing so under the care of a qualified Health Professional. We firmly believe that there is a no diet that suits everybody. You have to go out there and discover it for yourself and enjoy the journey along the way.