Many of us will remember our parents saying “chew your food!”
Although it was probably said more as a precaution to prevent choking, chewing your food well, about 10 chews per mouthful of food(or more), is actually an important first step in the process of good digestion.
When food enters your mouth, glands secrete saliva that contains enzymes which start working on breaking down foods. Once in the stomach, food mixes with stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) and the enzyme pepsin to break apart protein. As we age, less digestive fluids are produced and the fluid becomes less acidic. While low stomach acid is a more common occurrence in woman than men, other factors can strain the production of digestive fluids such as; overeating, excessive fluid intake around meals, certain medications, regularly consuming processed foods, eating on-the-run and even stress impacts efficient digestion. Food is also exposed to bile and specific enzymes that break down fat, carbohydrates and proteins into molecules small enough to be absorbed efficiently into the blood stream.
The benefits of meal planning and eating live, fresh foods like fruits, vegetables and fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut is that they are rich in enzymes and good bacteria that enhance and support good digestion. Diets that contain many processed foods, high in animal protein, low fibre and low fresh raw foods put a higher demand on the digestive function and overtime this can exhaust the digestive system. Symptoms of poor digestion range from minor gastrointestinal discomforts like belching, flatulence, nausea, diarrhea and bloating to indigestion, skin rashes or allergies.
There are many natural dietary supplements available to help support and improve digestion. For example:
Complete Digestive Enzymes contains enzymes that help breakdown proteins, carbohydrates and fats, which we like to call “full-spectrum” digestive enzyme. This type of supplement is good for people who experience indigestion or prolonged sensation of fullness after a meal, seniors and even athletes or people who suffer from inflammation in the body as enzymes help with proper metabolism and may contribute to inflammatory control. Ideally, the digestive enzymes can be taken after meals and even between meals.
Peppermint Oil helps calm the digestive tract and can ease symptoms of an irritated colon.
Ginger root is a wonderful traditional herbal remedy for nausea and also helps stimulate digestion.
Apple Cider Vinegar has traditionally been used to help stimulate and aid digestion. You could also use 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a small glass of water and take it before a meal.
Papaya Enzymes contain papain, amylase and bromelain to help with the digestion of proteins and carbohydrates. This supplement is a chewable enzyme that makes it convenient to keep at the office or for travelling.
Acidophilus with Bifidus; this supplement contains probiotics that support and maintain health of the large intestine. Probiotics help promote regular bowel movements and help protect from yeast and “bad” bacteria overgrowth.
Click here for more information on Webber Natural supplements to support digestion.
Consult with a natural health practitioner if you have any concerns about your digestion or regularly experience uncomfortable or chronic gastrointestinal discomfort. Diet modifications and support with natural supplements can help relieve digestive distress and lead to a happier you!
Image source: BalancedPlanets