Few people give much thought to the digestive process and accept acute or chronic digestive problems as the norm. Fewer people realize the full ramifications of even minor persistent digestive problems. Symptoms such as gas, cramps, bloating, flatulence, nausea, lethargy after eating, constipation, irregularity, diarrhea, heartburn, and burping are signs of digestive irregularities. Fewer people realize the full ramification of even minor persistent digestive problems. We have 100 trillion cells in our body that are in a constant state of breaking down, dying off, and being replaced every minute of every day. Virtually, within seven years we have a totally new body. Primarily every cell is built from what we eat and drink; but more accurately, it is from what we digest. Treasured within our food is vital, life sustaining nutrients that our digestive system transforms into a healthy body. The efficiency of the digestive system holds the potential for health or illness. Digestion is an incredible, complex, synergistic, chain of events in which the proficiency of each action relies on the success of the previous ones. Many factors interfere with digestion so it is wise to enhance each stage of the process as digestion forms the basis of our health. There are primarily six main areas involved in the digestive process. They are the mouth, stomach, pancreas, liver, small intestine, and large intestine.
The American College of gastroenterology, estimates there are over 95 million people with digestive disorders in the USA. Many people are unaware there is a dysfunction in their digestive system. The purpose of this article is to give an overview of digestion to help you understand how important it is and how to support digestion on a daily basis as preventative health measures. This article looks first at each stage of the digestive process and its function.
The first half of this article contains information on the anatomy and physiology of each stage of digestion.
The second half provides helpful suggestions, foods and supplements to support that area.
To discuss specific ailments and diseases is too expansive to include in this article and is best left to other individual articles.
Stress affects digestion in each one of the six stages. Stress has negative effects on our psychological well-being and imparts negative factors on our physical body. Because stress is an unavoidable negative factor present in most of our lives we need to take measures to assist our body in coping, particularly at the foundational level of our health, in the digestive system. Our health is integrally bound to the digestive process and for most people to reduce stress would be a major contributing factor to the proficiency of the digestive process. Stress hampers the process of extracting life-sustaining nutrients from food, without which we are destined to accelerated aging, illness and disease.
Consider the stress factor on your digestion from another perspective. When you encounter stress, real or perceived, your body sets in motion some pretty instinctive behaviors; one of which is diverting blood and energy from activities deemed non-essential in the moment, such as digestion. This is probably why when you are under stress, you rarely feel like eating, despite your friends telling you, “Eat something, you’ll feel better.”
The topic of stress is too expansive to do it justice within the confines of this article.
THE ORGANS OF DIGESTION
Digestion begins in the mouth, and most often, this important step is disregarded as we live our fast paced lifestyle. Teeth are considered an accessory organ in the digestive system. Unfortunately, we seldom take time to chew our food adequately. Chewing lubricates the food and releases a starch-splitting enzyme called amylase, that begins the breakdown of starches in the mouth. Chewing also sends a message to the stomach to prepare to release specific types and quantities of enzymes needed for the type of food being eaten. Even though the peristaltic action of the esophagus muscles breaks down the bolus (soft, wet ball of chewed food), inadequate mastication (chewing) of your food can leave particles to large for adequate breakdown in the next stage of digestion, the stomach. Remember, your stomach has no teeth.
The stomach is a bean-shaped hollow muscular organ in the gastrointestinal tract involved in the second phase of digestion. When empty, the stomach is about the size of a person’s fist and contains approximately 50 ml of fluid. It normally holds about 1litre of food, but can hold as much as 4 liters. When drinking milk, it can expand to just less than 6 pints, or 3.4 liters.
The walls of the stomach are made of many layers of smooth muscle and connective tissue. The stomach carries out digestion through a continual churning and mixing process of muscular contraction-and-release action until the food is in a paste form called chyme (pronounced KIME). Protein takes about 2 hours for the stomach to digest and carbohydrates about 20 minutes.
The innermost layer of the stomach forms deep pits, called rugal folds, with specific glands in different locations throughout the stomach. A mucus gel layer, which is the innermost layer, is a protective coating on the stomach wall. This layer secrets mucin, needed to protect the stomach wall from dissolving itself in the acidic environment that is present for protein digestion. Three other layers consist of cells that secrete enzymes or chemicals needed for digestion.
The stomach has a highly acidic environment with a pH range usually between 1 and2. The pH scale ranges between 0 (highly acidic) to 7 (pure water) to 14 (highly alkaline). Human blood stays in a very narrow pH range right around 7.3. Below or above this range means symptoms and disease. When pH is off, microbes in the blood can change shape, mutate, and grow; enzymes that are normally constructive can become destructive and oxygen delivery to cells suffers.
This acidic environment is necessary to break down protein. It also serves as a protective barrier against most bacteria that enter the stomach, however sometimes bacteria such as E. coli may survive, and live to raise havoc in the intestines. Hydrochloric acid (HCL) combined with digestive enzymes create an environment that is able to break down large molecules of food to smaller ones so they can eventually be absorbed in the small intestine. A glycoprotein called intrinsic factor, which is produced in the stomach, is needed for vitamin B12 to be absorbed in the small intestine. Other functions of the stomach include absorbing some ions, water, and some lipid-soluble compounds such as alcohol, aspirin, and caffeine.
The enzymes needed in the stomach to break down specific foods are as follows:
- Pepsin — breaks proteins into smaller peptide fragments.
- Gelatinase — degrades gelatin and collagen.
- Amylase — degrades starch.
- Gastric lipase — acts almost exclusively on a butterfat enzyme.
Both the autonomic nervous system and various digestive system hormones control the movement and flow of chemicals into the stomach. Knowing this, it is easily understood why digestion may be interfered with by stress or hormone imbalance. Stress diminishes enzyme and hydrochloric acid production and depletes blood supply to the stomach, slowing its performance.
Illness, stress, and some drugs, particularly acid-suppressing drugs, can hamper acid and enzyme production. Without completion of this phase of digestion, food particles are too large for adequate absorption in the small intestine and are passed on to the large intestine where they often are left to putrefy, which introduces a whole new set of problems.
Although the liver has many functions, one of its main functions is for digesting fats. It produces bile, an alkaline compound, which aids in digestion by emulsification of lipids or fats. Other functions not related to digestion are glycogen storage, decomposition of red blood cells, plasma proteins synthesis, and detoxification. The liver is the largest gland in the human body and lies just below the diaphragm. Blood brings nutrients and bi-products of food digestion, through the hepatic portal vein, from the spleen, pancreas, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine, to be processed by the liver. The bile produced in the liver is collected and excreted through bile ducts after being temporarily stored in the gallbladder. Bile is excreted directly into the duodenum, the upper part of the small intestine, by the common bile duct.
The liver performs over 500 jobs, and produces over 1,000 essential enzymes. The liver:
- Excretes bile required for emulsifying fats.
- Performs roles in carbohydrate metabolism.
- Is responsible for protein metabolism.
- Performs several roles in lipid metabolism.
- Produces coagulation factors involved in the blood clotting (to stop bleeding).
- Breaks down haemoglobin, creating metabolites that are added to bile as pigment.
- Breaks down the toxics substances, and most medicinal products in a process called drug metabolism. This sometimes results in detoxification, when the metabolite is more toxic than its precursor.
- Converts ammonia to urea.
- Stores multiple substances, including glucose (in the form of glycogen), vitamin B12, iron and copper.
- Is the main site of red blood cell production in the first trimester of a fetus.
- Responsible for immunological effects.
- The liver produces albumin, a major component of blood serum.
Inadequate bile production results in incomplete emulsification of fats. Without proper emulsification nutrients cannot be extracted and undigested fats putrefy and create toxins in the large intestine.
The pancreas is a dual-functioning gland. It is a gland /organ for the digestive and the endocrine systems. It secretes both pancreatic juices containing digestive enzymes and endocrine hormones, including insulin and glucagon. It secretes digestive enzymes and alkaline fluid into the small intestine through a system of exocrine ducts. Enzymes include:
Trypsin – splits protein
Chymotripsin – breaks internal bonds of protein
Pancreatic lipase – converts emulsified fats into glycerides
Amylase – splits starch into maltase
Specific cells that line the pancreatic ducts secrete a bicarbonate and salt-rich solution into the small intestine. The autonomic nervous system stimulates hormones that are carried through the blood to initiate production of pancreatic secretions. The portion of the pancreas that performs an endocrine function is made up of a million cell clusters called islets of Langerhans. One of the endocrine functions of the pancreas is to secrete insulin encouraging the cells to take sugars from the blood. Because of the dual function of the pancreas, diabetics are prone to digestive concerns.
Without vital pancreatic enzymes, foods are not broken down enough that nutrients are extracted for absorption in the small intestine. Unabsorbed food particles are passed on to the colon.
The small intestine is the part of the gastrointestinal tract (gut) between the stomach and the large intestine and is made up three parts that flow into each other: the duodenum, jejunum and ileum. This is where the majority of digestion takes place. Nutrients are diffused into the blood through villi, finger-like projections protruding from the wall of the small intestines. Villi and microvilli line the entire wall of the small intestine and because of their design, a large surface area is created for more absorption capability. The surface area is about the size of one-half a basketball court, or about 2000 sq. feet. The small intestine is approximately 7 m (23 feet) long and approximately 2.5cm to 3cm in width.
The duodenum is the beginning of the small intestine and is about 25cm to 30cm long. The stomach empties chyme, via the pyloric sphincter, into the duodenum. It is the first and shortest part of the small intestine and is where most chemical digestion takes place. It is largely responsible for the breakdown of food in the small intestine. The duodenum also regulates the rate at which the stomach empties via hormonal messengers. Secretin and cholecystokinin are enzymes released from cells in response to stimuli from the acidic or fatty contents of the stomach. These stimulate the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas to release enzymes that are needed in the duodenum for digestion.
The jejunum is the central portion of the small intestine and is about 2.5 m long. The pH is usually between 7 and 8, which is more or less neutral. The inner surface of the jejunum is covered in villi. There are a greater number of villi in the jejunum than in other areas of the small intestine. Nutrients transported through the microvilli and the villi include sugar fructose, amino acids, small peptides, vitamins, and glucose.
The Ileum is about 3.5 m (11.5 feet) long and approximately 2.5cm to 3cm wide. Food is moved through both intestines by muscular, wave-like contractions called peristalsis. Vitamin B12 and bile salts are absorbed in the ileum. Water and lipids are absorbed by passive diffusion. Sodium is absorbed and glucose and amino acids are transported. Fructose is absorbed by diffusion. The digestion of proteins into peptides and amino acids primarily occurs in the stomach, but some also occurs in the small intestine, where most chemical digestion takes place.
The large intestine is the final stage of the digestive system. Its function is to absorb the remaining water from undigested food matter as well as store useless nutrients and wastes and to then flush them from the body. The large intestine is about 1.5 m long, roughly one fifth the length of the intestinal canal, and about 7.6 cm in diameter. The large intestine takes 12 to 25 hours to finish the remaining processes of digestion. Food is not broken down any further in this stage of digestion. The large intestine simply absorbs vitamins that are created by the bacteria inhabiting the colon such as vitamin K. It is very important in absorbing water and compacting feces. It also stores fecal matter until eliminated.
Any undigested food ends in the large intestine and should be eliminated readily. Lack of fiber in the diet, or depleted amounts of friendly bacteria in the colon, are two main reasons for constipation and resulting ailments. Without fibre and friendly flora, fecal matter can become impacted along the walls of the intestine. One result of this can be a condition called Diverticulitis. Regular bowel movements should be about two to three times per day with a minimum of once a day. Without the continual emptying of the colon, fecal matter becomes impacted and toxic. It is possible and known to have up to 35 pounds of compacted fecal matter in the intestine and yet still have somewhat regular bowel movements.
A large percentage of the absorption of water happens in the large intestine. When water travels through compacted fecal matter, before being absorbed into the bloodstream, it picks up toxins and impurities, which are then recycled throughout the body. How we eliminate is as important to our health as the type of food we eat. The rise of instances of conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s, colitis, and colon cancer should be a warning to us — consume adequate amounts of probiotics and fibre, and be sure to eliminate at least one, preferably two to three, times per day.
It is a common misconception that parasites are only a problem in unsanitary conditions or in Third World countries. However, about 1 in every 10 people in North America who have parasites picked them up from raw fish (sushi) or contaminated water and food, or even household pets. Herbs such as grapefruit seed extract, oregano oil, gentian root extract, quassia bark extract, cloves and black walnut are common ingredients which remove parasites. Most of these will be found in formulas such as Natural Factors Parasite Formula.
MAINTENANCE OF THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
and PREVENTATIVE HEALTH STEPS
To maintain a healthy digestive tract, or to assist with a compromised system, there are really three primary categories of supplements to consider, even though there are many choices of product within each category. The categories are:
Probiotics are vital for digestion and have many other health benefits.The body plays host to many types, and high numbers, of microbes. These microbes are found on the skin, in the mouth, in a woman’s vaginal tract, and all through the gastrointestinal tract. It is estimated that there are more microbes, or bacteria cells, associated with the human body than there are human cells. Bacteria cells are a hundred times smaller than human cells. There are about 100,000,000,000,000, bacteria cells in the human body, and it is estimated there are more than 1,000 different species or types of bacteria. Most of these bacteria are not harmful and can contribute positively to normal human growth and development. However, some of these bacteria can have negative influences. This makes it important to maintain a majority of positive microbes over the potentially harmful ones. We receive our initial probiotics while traveling down the birth canal. A baby inside the womb has no probiotics, but is fully saturated within a half an hour of traveling through a healthy birth canal.
Supplemental probiotics are useful in treating both minor and critical digestive disorders as well as immune support and prevention. Although many people consume yogurt and other fermented foods as sources of probiotics, foods typically do not contain large enough numbers of probiotics. Supplemental products have the advantage of providing high amounts of beneficial bacteria.
Because of the harsh acidic environment of the stomach, there is concern that beneficial organisms will not survive the journey through the stomach to the intestines, where they are needed. Therefore it is recommended that probiotics be taken with food, as the food absorbs some of the acids.
Probiotics are integral to our health. We need probiotics in the digestive tract to:
- Restore and maintain healthy intestinal flora balance.
- Limit the growth of pathogenic bacteria inside the digestive tract by competing with their food supply.
- Help stimulate the immune system.
- Interfere with bacterial toxins.
- Protect gut surfaces.
- Control food allergies, intolerances and other reactions.
- May be helpful with celiac disease, and inflammatory bowel conditions.
- Improving breath odor.
There are many strains of friendly bacteria. Different strains perform different functions and are found in varying areas of the gastrointestinal tract. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are two of the most important strains of beneficial bacteria. Bifidobacterium primarily stimulate the mucosal lining of the small intestine and the Lactobacillus actually attacks unfriendly bacteria found primarily in the large intestine, although both may be found throughout the digestive tract.
Antibiotics destroy both the pathogenic and friendly bacteria. When taking antibiotics, it is advisable to restore beneficial bacteria quickly by taking probiotics two hours before or two hours after the antibiotics have been taken. Continue to use of probiotics long after the antibiotics are finished to replenish and restore the flora. Antibiotic-associated diarrhea can persist in up to 39% of patients on antibiotics. It is decreased to about 80% in patients taking probiotics.
When traveling to foreign countries, it is advisable to take along probiotics. Some strains of probiotics can reduce the incidence and severity of traveler’s disease. Probiotics colonize in the gastrointestinal tract and theoretically prevent pathogenic organisms from infecting the gut.
Friendly bacteria are found throughout the gastrointestinal tract. When taking a supplement, it is advisable to start the action in the mouth. This can be in either chewable form or by opening the contents of the capsule and putting it directly into your mouth and swish it around before swallowing. You body will take care of distributing it through the rest of the digestive tract.
There are many different types of probiotics formulas available in the vitamin section at Nutter’s. Feel free to ask our staff for assistance, but to get you started, following are a few recommended products.
Natural Factors Ultimate Protec Multi Probiotics
This is a 12-strains brand with a minimum of 12 billion live cells at expiry date. Each strain has undergone a stringent selection process and was carefully selected for its resistance to gastric acids and for their ability to grow in high acid levels. Strains are chosen so they do not interfere with the effectiveness of antibiotics, but still protect from their adverse facts. A common misconception is that many strains in the same blend compete with each other and compromise the quality of the product. This is not true. All of the strains in this formula have undergone strain compatibility testing to ensure bacteria are compatible without inhibiting effects among strains.
Flora High Potency Bowel Probiotics
This concentration has 70 billion live cells per capsule at the time of manufacture, with a guarantee of 49 billion live cells per cap at expiry. In tests, these bile resistant strains showed that 0% is lost due to the exposure of stomach acids and bile secretion. L. acidophilus can sometimes cause constipation in the elderly, but this blend has been used in studies on chronic, diseased patients with no side effects reported. Probiotics are recommended to help with lactose intolerance, and may help in digestion in order to reduce cramping. No case of lactose intolerance has been recorded after 30 years of probiotics use for people with dairy allergies. However, there could be traces of residue left over from the manufacturer and therefore people with Type 1 Hypersensitivity, could experience an allergic reaction.
Nature’s Way Primadophilus Intensive 100 Billion CFU (Colony Forming Units)
This probiotic is the most powerful probiotic available today. In each box are 10 single serving powder packets, each with 100 billion colony-forming units, which make up the 10-day intensive program to replenish healthy intestinal flora. The 10-day supply fortifies and replenishes the small and large intestine. It is ideal for digestive distress, immune defense, traveler’s aid, or as part of a cleansing or detoxification program. This tasty powder can mix into beverages, cereal, yogurt or other soft foods.
ENZYME AND BILE PRODUCTION
Enzymes are primarily located in the stomach and small intestine. Enzyme and bile production involves the stomach, liver, and pancreas, and all three are integral to digestion. The following are recommendations of supplements for enzyme and bile support.
Bitters is a century-old herbal remedy used for detoxifying, preventing illness, strengthening natural defenses, improving digestion and promoting regularity. By enhancing digestion, bitters can help with bloating, gas and other digestive disturbances.
Natural Factors Swedish Bitters is a unique formula of 11 herbs and supplements using the principle of synergy.
In North America, we tend to shy away from anything that tastes bitter, however it might help to remember that bitters promote health through digestion.
ENZYMES – Stomach and Pancreatin
There are many digestive enzyme formulas available in different combinations of enzymes and hydrochloric acid. When having digestive problems, it is not always easy to figure out which area may be deficient. Start by supplementing all areas and then, by a process of elimination, find out which area or process needs support on a continual basis. Supplementing for a while may stimulate your body back to its natural balance of enzyme and bile production. The following can be taken in combination or separately and are the things to look for when supplementing enzymes:
- Stomach enzymes – pepsin, protease, gelatinase, amylase, lipase, cellulace, invertase
- Betain HCL
- Bromalain – can replace trypsin or pepsin
- Papaya – a proteolytic (breaks down protein) enzyme. Papain, a pancreatic enzyme, is also in the papaya and helps with digestion. Proteolytic enzyme therapy is being used for a host of ailments such as cancer, MS, arthritis, sinusitis and more.
In addition to, or on its own:
- Pancreatin enzymes- Trypsin, Chymotripsin, pancreatic lipase, and amylase
One study demonstrated that subjects treated with artichoke extract experienced 127% increase in the flow of bile 30 minutes after one dose, and 151% increase in flow one hour after dosage. Artichoke extract is recommended as a general tonic to improve liver function and detoxification and as a digestive aid for patients with digestive problems such as flatulence, bloating, and constipation or diarrhea. Artichoke extract enhances the detoxification process of the liver and protects the liver from toxic byproducts of the detoxification process. The way artichoke protects the liver is not understood however, this herb also transports toxins in the form of bile from liver.
This common, unwanted weed is known to herbalists for its medicinal and nutritional value. The leaves are eaten both raw and cooked or made into a therapeutic tea. The bitter principle is believed to be responsible in part for the plant’s therapeutic activity. Dandelion is used to regulate digestion, liver function, and as a diuretic. The bitter principle stimulates digestion, including the creation of some salivary and gastric juices. It also enhances the flow of bile, improving the health of the liver.
Milk thistle has been used for more then 2,000 years. It is known for its use in an array of illnesses including hepatitis, liver cirrhosis and alcohol-related liver disease. It is a powerful antioxidant and protects the liver from toxins and has shown to regenerate liver cells. It also stimulates liver and gallbladder activity.
OTHER HELPFUL SUGGESTIONS FOR DIGESTION
Ginger is commonly used for the stomach and helps with digestive gas and bloating. It supports the stomach, liver and intestines. Ginger is well known for combating the inflammatory response, which helps in both digestion and inflammation throughout the body. Gingerforce from New Chapters is a full-spectrum ginger extract with at least 250 times the concentration of fresh ginger. This full-spectrum extract contains hundreds of naturally-occurring beneficial ingredients.
Laxatives are used for periodic constipation or as part of a detoxification program but should not be depended on for regularity. Stimulant laxatives can create a dependency as the body’s natural peristalsis (alternating muscular contractions) action diminishes. Cascara sagrada is a gentle stimulant that usually can be felt in about 8 hours. It generally presents a softer stool. The too-good-to-be–true news is that it aids in restoring the natural bowel tone of the colon that could have been disturbed from overuse of others types of laxatives. Senna is another natural laxative but it is more purgative, which is sometimes needed but can create a dependency with prolonged use. Turkey rhubarb is a milder, stimulating, tonic herb that can also help with diarrhea. Natural Factors Laxative Formula is an example of a gentle formula that helps improve elimination and cleanse the bowels.
DGL – Deglycerrized licorice
DGL is a licorice that has been deglycerized because licorice can promote hypertension. It is commonly used for ulcers in the digestive tract, but it is also beneficial for other digestive disorders as it has the capability of manufacturing a protective coating on the delicate lining of the stomach and other digestive organs. It comes primarily in chewable form and has been found to give quick relief for gas and bloating, and particularly for leaky gut syndrome.
Peppermint has been used for many years to sooth gastrointestinal problems. Remember grandmother having a peppermint plant in her garden and chewing peppermint candies? Modern science has brought us enteric-coated peppermint capsules. These contain concentrated peppermint in capsule form that is not released until it is delivered to the intestinal tract. Tests have shown it to be effective for digestive disorders, even irritable bowel syndrome.
L-Glutamine is a nonessential amino acid. This means our body can produce it providing it has the amino acids it needs. Many people have a compromised diet and therefore are lacking glutamine. It is important for maintenance of the delicate walls of the digestive tract and the stomach. People suffering with gastrointestinal tract disorders often find considerable relief by supplementing with L-glutamine.
FIBRE FOR DAILY HEALTH
The average American consumption of fibre from food is approximately 10 to 15 grams however our daily requirements, as suggested by the National Cancer Institute and other professional health organizations, is 20 to 35 grams per day.
Dietary fiber is the digestible parts of the plant cell. There are two types of fiber; soluble and insoluble. Fibre is found only in plants, not in animal products. Foods containing fiber are rich in phytonutrients, chemicals made by plants that have antioxidant, disease-fighting properties. The role of fibre is primarily to cleanse the body by regulating transit time of food through the colon, but there are other important benefits as well.
Soluble fibre is composed of substances such as gums, mucilage and gels. It is a soft, sticky and thick fiber that forms a thick gel when dissolved in water. It adds bulk and is soothing to the bowels. It is often used to prevent diarrhea or constipation. It feeds intestinal bacteria and helps to produce short-chain fatty acids. These short-chain fatty acids may reduce the risk of cancer, improve the immune system, and help slow down the absorption of glucose, which can help lower blood sugar levels. Soluble fibre softens and forms stool, regulating bowel function and improving the colon environment. It can prevent colon cancer cell growth, lower blood cholesterol and thereby helping to control diabetes. It regulates the immune response, as well as acts as a prebiotic that promotes probiotic growth.
Some sources of soluble fibre are Jerusalem artichoke root, chicory root, onion, apples, citrus fruits, oats, barley, rye, seaweed, flax seed, beans and lentils.
Insoluble fibre is a coarse material that does not dissolve in water, yet holds water very effectively. It holds up to 15 times its weight in water. It softens and expands stool volume by having bulk and weight, thereby speeding up fecal transit and elimination time, which alleviates constipation. Insoluble fibre helps with muscle tone in the colon. It is less likely to break down in the intestines and plays a valuable role in activating intestinal toxins and passing them through the intestines largely intact. It is possible that it can prevent cancer in the intestines.
Some sources of insoluble fibre are flax seeds and nuts, carrots, plum, apples (with edible peels and seeds), whole grains, or the bran of grains.
Although we can get 100% of our fibre requirements from food, most people do not include enough raw fruits and vegetables in their diet to get 35 grams of fibre. As a guideline, here are a few fibre-rich foods and their fibre content.
FOODS AND THEIR FIBRE CONTENT Oats
½ cup, cooked
Don’t forget the importance of FATS
Supplementing with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the good fats, Omega 3 and 6, including both plant and fish oils, have many health benefits and particularly help with stool consistency as well as tissue health in the digestive tract.
Water is vital to proper digestive health and many people don’t drink enough water daily. To determine your proper daily water consumption, divide your body weight (pounds) by 2 and drink that number of ounces of water per day. That means if you weigh 160 pounds, drink 80 ounces of water per day. It sounds like a lot, so if you’re not a water drinker, do the best you can. Something is better than nothing.
It was thought, for a long period of time, that beverages such as herbal teas didn’t count, however today, the thinking is changing and these types of beverages can be included in your daily hydration totals. If you can, it’s best to stick with straight water.
From birth to death, it is important to take care of this open-ended tube called the digestive tract that extends from one end of our body to the other. We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of an optimally functioning digestive system. It is absolutely integral to our health. Ignoring minor, yet perpetual, symptoms or taking for granted the efficiency of this vital system can have long-term negative effects on aging and health.
Suggestions made by Nutter’s Bulk & Natural Foods, and the contents of this article,
are recommendations only and should not be considered a substitute for professional
medical advice, nor a replacement for prescriptions. Always seek medical advice for any
health concerns from a qualified medical health care professional before using any
recommendations contained in Nutter’s articles.