Chewing your food is the first step that leads the food material down the esophagus, into the stomach and into the duodenum and small intestines, which further digest your food into small enough molecules to be digested. There are ways to eat that allows for the maximal digestion of healthy food and for proper elimination of waste products.
Having a healthy digestive system is important and here’s why. The fact is that you are not what you eat, as the old saying goes, but really, what you absorb. Whenever you swallow a bit of chewed and mashed up food, known as a bolus, it is then processed by the digestive system for nutrient absorption, which is achieved through a set of digestive enzymes, which break down food into smaller units and use it for nutrient value. Keeping the digestive system healthy allows you to get the most from your food.
Here are some excellent natural ways to improve your digestion and eat better:
• Take in both soluble and insoluble fiber. These are two different things. Insoluble fiber is naturally unable to be digested. Instead, it binds to some food and adds bulk to the contents of the large intestines, preventing constipation and clearing out the bowels more completely. Soluble fiber is great for absorbing cholesterol from the food you eat and can therefore lower your body’s cholesterol level in mild to moderate ways.
• Eat plenty of fiber. This includes eating foods like whole grain breads and pasta, whole vegetables, beans, legumes and whole fruits. They contain both soluble and insoluble fibers, which, as noted above, are good for your digestion. You will be less constipated and will have a lesser chance of having irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulosis and hemorrhoids.
• Avoid high fat foods. Fatty foods make digestion sluggish so, if you are prone to constipation, it will make the constipation worse. If you absolutely want to eat something high in fat, eat it along with something high in fiber to balance out the rate in which the food passes through the digestive system.
• Try probiotics. Probiotics are wonderful supplements containing the healthy bacteria you should have in your digestive tract. By taking in spores or live bacteria in capsule form, you can colonize your gut with healthy bacteria, pushing out bacteria that can make you sick out of your system. Probiotics are found at health food stores and at major pharmacies. Even eating yoghurt in its natural form will provide you with some healthy bacteria like Lactobacillus in your diet.
• Eat lean meats. If you decide that meat is the best way to get your dietary protein, try to select meats that are low in fat. This includes eating lower fat meats like skinless turkey, skinless chicken and pork loin. Trim off any visible fat when cooking and try cooking in ways that allow excess grease to fall away, such as with grilling meats. Pour grease off food after cooking whenever possible.
• Eat your foods on a regular schedule. Evidence suggests that eating several smaller meals over the course of the day are better for your digestive tract. If you eat irregularly, eating some large meals and a few small meals spread apart, this can deregulate your gastrointestinal tract, leading to excess gas and irregular bowel movements.
• Keep yourself hydrated. You need fluid, preferably water, to flush your food through your digestive tract. A diet too low in water can be constipating. Don’t worry about drinking too much water as long as you are in good health. Water you need for digestion will stay in the digestive tract while excess water is absorbed and processed through the kidneys.
• Eliminate the bad habits of drinking, excessive caffeine and smoking. These are non-nutritive substances that can negatively impact your digestive tract. These are habits that can contribute to getting stomach ulcers and symptoms of heartburn. It is best to eat healthy and naturally without these substances on board.
• Get regular exercise. Exercise activates your digestive system and allows for quicker transit time of food material through the gastrointestinal system. Try exercising 30 minutes per day 5-7 days per week for regular bowel movements and weight loss, if necessary.
• Handle your stress. If you live in circumstances of high stress or anxiety, your digestive system can go into overdrive, leading to diarrhea and cramping with increased gas in your colon. Through natural means such as meditation, Tai chi, and yoga, you can lessen the stress in your life so that your digestive tract moves and digests more normally.