As an 18th-century food critic once observed, “Digestion, of all the bodily functions, is the one which exercises the greatest influence on the mental state of an individual.”
It is important to realize that constipation, bloating and indigestion are just effects of a digestive system that is not functioning properly. In most cases, small changes like including more fiber and water to your diet and supplementing with probiotics will alleviate these symptoms
Below are some essential strategies in maintaining a healthy colon and proper digestive function:
Fluids: Adequate water intake is essential for maintaining regularity and a healthy bowel. You should consume approximately 8 glasses of water per day. Insufficient fluid intake can contribute to a hard stool which is the cause most discomfort. Overconsumption of caffeine and alcohol can also lead to dehydration, creating or aggravating to the issue.
Fibre: The key to treating and preventing constipation is consumption of a high fibre diet. Most people need 30 grams of fibre a day; however, the average North American only consumes about 10 grams. A diet filled with natural fibre sources such as whole fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts, and legumes is important for preventing constipation.
Digestive Enzymes: These play a key role in preventing bloating, indigestion and constipation. Some people are lacking the correct amounts of digestive enzymes in their body. These enzymes aid the digestive process by breaking down food into smaller particles. For maximum digestive benefit, look for digestive enzyme supplements that includes the following enzymes: proteases, amylases and lipases. For those over 40, including a HCL supplement may also be helpful.
Food Sensitivities: These should be ruled out! Many people with chronic constipation or diarrhea and bloating have underlying food sensitivities. The most common are milk and gluten sensitivities.
Exercise: Regular exercise stimulates peristalsis and facilitates lymphatic flow which is essential to good digestion.
By following these simple suggestions you can improve many common digestive complaints and have a healthier digestive system.
Though some digestion takes place in the stomach, most of the real “disassembly” work is accomplished in the small intestine. The small intestine secretes enzymes such as maltase, sucrase and lactase, which break down sugars into their smallest units. However, the majority of enzymes involved in digestion are provided by the pancreas. The pancreas secretes lipases to digest fats (with help from bile from the liver), amylases to digest starches and proteases to digest proteins.
The secretion of digestive enzymes declines as we age, food sensitivities may also be a cause. Many people with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) have underlying food sensitivities to milk products and/or gluten. This can result in bloating, indigestion, constipation and the passing of undigested food in the stool. Fortunately, there’s a solution for most of us with bloating, constipation and indigestion.
Increase your intake of fibre-rich plant foods, eat a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, beans and grains, and incorporate freshly ground flax seed (or another fibre source) into your diet. Get regular exercise. Very important is drinking plenty of water; at least 1litre is required for most people. Making sure you’re adequately hydrated will support every aspect of the digestive process.
Digestive enzymes play a key role in preventing bloating, indigestion and constipation.
Digestive enzymes aid the bodies’ digestive process and help breakdown foods into smaller particles therefore preventing indigestion, bloating and constipation. I suggest
supplementing with digestive enzymes. For maximum benefit, look for a product that includes all three types of enzymes: proteases, amylases and lipases. The enzymes papain (from papaya) and bromelain (from pineapple) may also be helpful.